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Monday, November 26, 2012

The Cat's Outta The....

Kitchen.  Yes, kitchen.  This is a tale about a cat named Sophie...

Sophie was adopted into our family in the fall of 2006.  She was a beautiful and fun little kitten.  But then, we took her into the vet to be spayed and declawed.  Bad decision.  Not the spay, but the declaw.  If I had to do it over, we would have opted out of this little operation, but in my mind, little babies, new furniture and kitty claws didn't mesh well together.  After this surgery, she got very sick and had to be rushed back to the vet for a shot of antibiotics and steriods and we were told she may not make it.  She did, thankfully,  but was never quite the same after that.

She grew up to be a gorgeous cat, and tolerated her environment quite well, even when the kids treated her like a doll rather than a cat.  One of their favorite past times was dressing her up and playing cat model. 

You can tell, she's absolutely thrilled :)

Getting Sophie from New Mexico to Georgia was an interesting adventure.  She was not too fond of her cat carrier and the only reason we weren't completely annoyed by her incessant howling in the back of the van was because the 6 children along for the cross-country trip out-louded her.

Our first stop was in Texas.  We got a suite, so there'd be room for all of us, and at night we set up a litter box, a food spot and let the cats run the room, you know, to stretch their legs and all that.  Apparently, a door got opened sometime after we locked it down and Sophie got out.  We didn't discover this until the morning, as we were getting the cats back into their kennels for another long stint across the states.  Calla was hysterical.  I was hysterical because she was hysterical.  Not a fun time.  As we were walking to and from the van, loading up, we heard a howling cat sound.  We couldn't figure out where she was, and we were kind of on a time crunch because our trip was meticously planned so as to arrive in Georgia the day before Jamie had to report to his new job (same day we were closing on the house)  Kyle was running up and down the stairs, thinking he heard her up there somewhere, but Calla swore she heard her by this car parked outside our room.  We looked high, we looked low.  We looked under the car and even peeked in the car, but what Sophie had done was incredible.  She had climbed up into the engine of the car, and couldn't get out.  So not only did we have a cat trying to relocate herself to Texas permanately, the second her new owner revved up the engine, she would be a goner.  I can't even remember how exactly we got her out of that, but we did it without having to track down the owner of the vehicle and without having to add an extra day to our trip.  Jamie was...well...annoyed and I was fried before we even got on the road.  But from then on, we paid really close attention to the cats, locking them down in the bathroom of all places we were staying in, so this wouldn't happen again. 

We made it to Georgia in one piece, (well, in body.  I am pretty sure my mind was severely fragmented at this point.)  We started out with 6 kids, 3 cats, a guinea pig and two parents, and the head count was the same once we arrived, even if our nerves were completely shot.  We got to the hotel, Jamie made his first day of work and we even closed on the house exactly as planned.  We ended up camping out in our house because it was way more fun than staying in a crowded hotel room,and the cats also enjoyed the room to roam.  After we had been here a couple days, we took Sophie out the back porch so that when the movers came and we were unloading stuff, she wouldn't just bolt out the door and get lost again.  We were trying to acclimate her, a little at a time, just in case she would get out (she was strictly an indoor cat) but this plan back-fired hugely.  She didn't just sniff around and roll on the concrete like our other cats did.  She immediately bolted to the woods.  We couldn't find her anywhere.  Calla cried for days, and kept looking for her, but she was just gone.  Her being an indoor cat her entire life, plus the fact she was declawed, didn't tip the odds in her favor.  She was a city dwelling, urban princess out in the wild, rural woods and we honestly gave up hope of ever seeing her again.  I felt like the worst Mom on the entire planet, because it was my idea to bring her outside. 

30 days later, Kyle was out in our garage, getting our new puppies some food, when he heard the trademark "meow" and there was Sophie.  He rushed in the house, holding this poor cat, and yelled 'MOM.....IT'S SOPHIE!!!" I was cooking eggs for Jamie, but paid no mind to them.  I grabbed her and immediately bolted upstairs to Calla, who was sound asleep, shook her and yelled for her to wake up.  She jumped out of her bed so fast it scared Sophie, grabbed her tight and started bawling, which made me cry too.  I still, to this day, cannot believe she came back.  She was a little ragged looking and skinny, but all in one piece and happy to be home.  And she had since never been interested in the great outdoors.  She all indoor, all the time, which would be great if she would leave...

The kitchen.

The cat will NOT leave the kitchen.  We have this huge house and she will not stay in any of the rooms we bring her in.  At night, she will creep into the laundry room, where her litter box is, but never during the day.  She sleeps on top of the fridge, or the big hutch we have in there, and when she's hungry, she'll come down for a little love and begging, but if we bring her out of the kitchen, into the main part of the house, she immediately runs back.  It's weird.  And now we have a little problem.  The door on the laundry room is now complete, blocking her entrance to the litter box and there's no way I'm putting a litter box in the kitchen.  Gross.  (Well the whole litter box concept as a whole is nasty, if you ask me, but I haven't had much success in potty training my toddlers in a reasonable time frame, so I'm pretty sure any attempt to train the cat would fail.)

We have a bathroom upstairs (you know, the coat closet with a toilet) that would be a perfect location for the litter box, but now Taylor (our pooch) sleeps in that bathroom at night.  I could relocate Tay-Tay to the laundry room and put the litter box up there, but chances are Sophie wouldn't go that far (even though she used to....) and I'm not quite sure how to work around this conumdrum.

I've searched my mind for ideas about relocating the litter box to somewhere downstairs, but there is honestly no good place for it.  I will not have it in the downstairs bathroom because there's no way to hide it.  I don't think a cat box makes for good decorating, even if it's disguised as some plant stand or whatever else is popular these days. 

So what I really need is someway to train her to stay upstairs, or at least GO up there as she needs to.  Without traumatizing her.  (And you have to understand, looking at her wrong is traumatic for her.  She's a very particular kitty..) So blog readers, how would you re-train a mentally challenged cat to embrace the whole of the house and not stand post in the kitchen all hours of the day?  Is there some trick to this, outside of just stuffing her into a room and closing the door indefinitely?

Is it time for a cat whisperer type person? 


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