This post is different from most of those that I’ve done so far. It’s more like a diary than an article. It’s a story rather than a rant or remembrance. I began to write on July 3rd. I’ve stopped writing and published because I think Dorothy has finished this first chapter of (what I hope will be) a story spanning many years to come.
As you know, Spider crossed the Rainbow Bridge around 9 PM on Tuesday, June 28th. Loretta and I laid her to rest two days later. I was devastated and had no intention of adopting another cat.
At 15 minutes after Midnight on Friday, July 1st, I received an e-mail from my friend and former colleague, Connie. She had read my post on Spider’s passing (see link above) and told me about Dorothy. Dorothy was living with Connie’s neighbor and friend, Jan. Dorothy was a 10 year-old orphan. She had lived with Jan’s parents. Both Dorothy and Jan had lost their “Daddy” about a year ago. Their “Mommy” had joined him about a month before Spider’s passing.
Dorothy was not happy at Jan’s. Jan already had 3 cats and a dog. Having been an “only cat”, Dorothy was frightened by the other animals. She spent her time in the garage and the catio. Dorothy had lost her “parents”. I had lost my “child”. After prayer and soul-searching, I knew I needed to meet Dorothy and … with her permission … adopt her.
Sunday, July 3, 2016
About 1:30 PM
After Loretta and I visited with Connie for a while, the three of us went over to Jan’s so that I could meet Dorothy. I was nervous. I wanted to give Dorothy her “Forever Home“, but it was as much Dorothy’s decision as mine. What if she didn’t like me?
My worry was a waste of my energy. Dorothy took to me immediately … and I to her. Dorothy and I spent about 15 minutes getting to know each other. When it was time to go, Dorothy did NOT want to get into the cat carrier. I had to tilt the box while Jan essentially dumped Dorothy into it, but we were able to get on our way home.
About 2:30 PM
Dorothy and arrived home. As soon as I opened the carrier, Dorothy went off to find a place to hide. After preparing her water, food, and litter box, I went back to the car to get the box of Dorothy’s “possessions” that Jan had given me. When I returned, she was just inside the door. I squeezed in and closed the door. (Had Dorothy “escaped”, she wouldn’t have gone far … just into the building’s hallway.) As soon as the door closed behind me, Dorothy went off to a new hiding place in the living room … under a table at the end of one of my couches. When I tried to encourage her to come out, she did … and promptly squeezed under a bookcase.
Monday, July 4, 2016
About 9:45 AM
Dorothy was still under the bookcase. Apparently, she spent the night there. I put bowls of dry food and cool water near her.
About 10:30 AM
Hoping her own scent would help Dorothy be less fearful, I decided to put her blanket near her hiding space. When I got to the living room, I found that she had moved to her original fortress. I laid the blanket near her. Here’s a rough drawing showing the layout of Dorothy’s fortress.
(I know. It’s a cluttered mess. What do you expect from an old man who lives with a cat?)
About 8:00 PM
I moved Dorothy’s litter box into the living room … about 10 feet from her hiding place. It’s not too close to her “fortress”, but within her sphere of influence.
Tuesday, July 5, 2016
About 7:30 AM
There’s no evidence that Dorothy has moved from her place … food and water seem to be untouched; nothing in the litter box. I blocked the bottom of the bookcase to eliminate that hiding place. (It can’t have been a comfortable retreat.) I moved the couch a bit and removed the plastic boxes.
I’m hoping that being able to see a more expanded reality will embolden Dorothy. I moved her water and food to a spot within her new field of vision. That wasn’t possible earlier.
Between 11:20 AM and 12:30 PM
Sometime while I was taking a nap, Dorothy used her litter box. That was the first indication that she’d left her “fortress”.
About 12:45 PM
Before going out, I put a dish with a spoonful of moist food with gravy near Dorothy’s dry food and water in the living room.
When I returned home, I couldn’t find Dorothy anywhere. I searched everywhere. You wouldn’t think that a 15 pound, long-haired, white cat could hide so well … even in our apartment. She’s good.
About 4:30 PM
I put a small quantity of Whiskas Temptations (essentially “cat candy”) in each of Dorothy’s food dishes. I noticed something that I’d missed earlier … a bit of dry food spilled outside the dish. That’s a sure sign of cat nibbling … another good sign.
I decided to look for her again. This time, I found her. She was in my home office under some of the computers … one of Spider’s favorite “hidey-holes”. I missed her earlier because she was curled up way in the back. I had to lie on the floor to see her. Even though she’s still hiding, Dorothy is beginning to explore her new home. I have no doubt that, in time, she’ll feel secure enough to live out of hiding most of the time. I just have to be patient. (I’m not very good with “patient”.)
Wednesday, July 6, 2016
Dorothy used her litter box again. Later today, I’ll begin it’s slow move to its proper location outside my bathroom. I plan to move it a foot or two a day until one of the following:
- Dorothy gets upset and misses. (This would be a serious setback.)
- The box reaches its spot outside the bathroom.
- Dorothy “takes ownership” of our whole home. (If we reach that milestone before the move is complete, I can finish the move and show Dorothy where the box is.)
This morning, Dorothy has returned to the computer room “hidey-hole”.
Between 1:45 PM and 2:30 PM
Sometime after arriving home from my Wednesday errands and unpacking my purchases, I went looking for Dorothy. She’s in the “hidey-hole” to the left of the one Spider used. (The computer platform has 3 supports running front to back … hence, 2 “hidey-holes”.) The opening on the left is wider than the one on the right. (Because the supports are open on one side the interiors are comparable.) The left opening is easier for Dorothy to enter and gives her a clear view of the outside.
Thursday, July 7, 2016
About 7:30 AM
It looks as if Dorothy ate some of her moist food in the kitchen. She seems to have given up “Fortress Dorothy” in favor of her “hidey-holes”.
About 11:15 PM
I went to the living room to make sure she had food and water in there. As I walked around the couch, I saw a white, furry blur. I don’t know to where she dashed off. I do know she’s quick.
Friday, July 8, 2016
About 7:15 AM
Dorothy ate from both her moist and dry food dishes in the kitchen. I consider this to be a good sign. She’s returned to using the hidey-hole with the smaller opening. I guess it makes her feel more secure.
About 6:30 PM
I had to go out unexpectedly this afternoon. When I returned, I found Dorothy’s moist food bowl practically licked clean. This is the first time that I can be sure that she’s eaten twice in the same day … her schedule in her previous home. It’s a very good sign.
About 9 PM
I believe we’ve reached a milestone. Dorothy seems to be extremely fond of Fancy Feast Medley, Tender Turkey Primavera. By 6:30, she had eaten more than half of a can. At that time, I scooped out about a third of a can more and returned to my room. While my back was turned to the doorway, she snuck by me and ate the third of a can too. I’ve scooped out another half of a can in case she wants more. We can worry about a schedule after she feels secure enough to no longer need to “eat and run”.
About 11:25 PM
As I was closing up for the night, I looked into the darkness of the office toward the window to make sure it was partially closed. I saw Dorothy sitting on the shelf by the window so that she could look outside. Jan had told me that Dorothy enjoyed looking out the window. (Most cats like to look out windows. Jackson Galaxy, the host and star of “My Cat from Hell“, on Animal Planet calls it “Cat TV”.) I am so glad to see that she is expanding her horizons.
Saturday, July 9, 2016
Dorothy has reached another milestone in becoming acclimated to her “Forever Home”. She is lying under the bigger desk in my office … spread out in comfort and relatively exposed. She has claimed another of Spider’s favorite places … one that is better suited to a cat her size. Looking at her, I thought of a big cat in the plains or the jungle resting under a convenient rock outcropping. I didn’t get too close. I want to give her space until she’s ready. I said hello, praised her growing courage, and told her that her dinner is ready in the kitchen.
Sunday, July 10, 2016
I went looking for Dorothy. She was not in either “hidey-hole”. She was not under the desk. She was beyond the desk in a space next to a file cabinet.
It’s not a milestone, but it’s Dorothy expanding here territory. I lay down on the floor (on the opposite side of the room) and spoke to her for a little while.
About 11:20 PM
Dorothy and I had a “close encounter of the doorway kind”. As I walked toward the kitchen to get my nightly pills, I found Dorothy at the office doorway. She froze in place. I said “Hi” to her and continued into the kitchen. When I headed back to the bedroom, she was still in the doorway. She turned and scooted into the darkness of the office. I called to her that I was done in the kitchen. I hope she realizes that she can take her turn now.
Monday, July 11, 2016
As I lay on my side waiting for sleep, I saw movement in the hallway. (Knowing I will be getting up sometime during the night, I leave the stove light burning as a sort of night light.) The movement was Dorothy. Not wanting to startle her, I remained still and watched.
Dorothy sniffed at a small bag I’d left hanging on the linen closet doorknob. It was the bag that had carried Dorothy’s “possessions”. It must have smelled familiar. I hope it gave her comfort. She turned and walked into the kitchen. In less than a minute, she returned, walked to the bedroom doorway, and sat there peering into the darkness facing me. She sat there for several minutes. I imagine she could see me. Perhaps she was waiting for me to act. I didn’t. I wanted to avoid anything that might startle her. Dorothy is moving at her speed. I want her to come to me when she feels safe. After a while, she turned and walked into her room (the office).
About 1:05 AM
I was still waiting for sleep. Dorothy came out of her room and checked out the hallway again. She turned and walked into the bathroom … more exploring. After a minute or so, she came back to the hallway and returned to her room … stopping only briefly to make sure that I was still “unthreatening”.
I am encouraged by these two episodes. Dorothy is exploring her home and starting to learn that the staff (me) may be worthy of her trust.
Tuesday, July 12, 2016
Dorothy is eating several varieties of Fancy Feast Medley. She’s particularly fond of the Primavera varieties.
Sometime in the Morning
I moved Dorothy’s litter box to its permanent location … in the hallway outside my bathroom.
Sometime in the Afternoon
Dorothy found her litter box and used it. Success.
I had just finished my supper and was taking my dish to the kitchen. Just as I stood up, Dorothy came out of the kitchen. Again, we startled each other. She stopped. I sat facing her and said hello. She froze for a bit … looking back and forth between me and the door to her room. She decided it was safe to go back to her security location and walked into her room.
Wednesday, July 13, 2016
About 9:40 AM
The doorways to my bedroom and Dorothy’s room are right next to each other. This morning, we both left our rooms at the same time and had another “close encounter of the doorway kind”. Both of us were startled. I wish a camera had recorded our expressions. I said hello to her and told her I was going out for a while. She dashed back to the interior of her room.
Thursday, July 14, 2016
About 9:20 AM
I printed a copy of this “article” for proof reading. When I went to the office to get the printout, it was still printing … and Dorothy was sitting there watching the printer. I backed off to avoid distracting or startling her.
In a short time, Dorothy came out of her room to go to the kitchen for breakfast. She saw me watching her and became nervous. I talked to her. She seemed uncertain about whether to proceed to the kitchen or duck back into her room. Breakfast won out. (As she entered the kitchen, I noticed just what a big girl she is.)
After several minutes, Dorothy returned. We “visited” for a few minutes. Dorothy didn’t enter my room nor did she run into hers. She looked at me, sniffed around, and rubbed against the wall in the hall to make sure it carried her scent. After a few minutes, she walked slowly into her room.
Friday, July 15, 2016
Other than peeking at her in the smaller “hidey-hole” early this afternoon, I had not seen Dorothy all day. I decided to try something that Loretta suggested yesterday … luring her out with a toy. I went into Dorothy’s room with the bird toy I’d bought several years ago. (Spider had never been more than mildly interested in this toy, but it has the advantage of having a long stick and string. I could offer it to Dorothy without invading her personal space.)
To say that Dorothy was interested in the bird toy is understatement. She stood up, followed the “bird” right to my feet, looked up, and talked to me. I reached down and scratched her head. Dorothy followed me into the kitchen and waited near her bowl while I opened a can of food and scooped her supper into her bowl. I left her to bury her face in the Fancy Feast Medley.
When she came back from the kitchen, Dorothy was less interested in the “bird”. She had just eaten. The need to hunt was less pressing. She did follow it enough to walk a couple of feet into my bedroom. After a minute of sniffing around, she left. (Maybe Spider’s scent is still too strong in here. Maybe Dorothy is old enough to have heard the proverb about curiosity and cats.)
I went into Dorothy’s room to see what she was doing after our breakthrough. She had returned to sitting under the desk. I scratched her head and sat in my desk chair. Dorothy came to me and rubbed against my legs as she had when we first met. I scratched and petted her. We spent several minutes bonding.
Dorothy just came into the room as far as the bed investigating as she walked. When she reached me, I scratched her head. She walked to the doorway, turned, and looked back at me. We walked into the kitchen. Dorothy stared at me until I poured her some Friskies Indoor Delights dry food.
Dorothy returned to my room, jumped up on the bed, and “requested” more scratching and petting. This time she purred and rolled over on her back.
Dorothy has been varying among investigating, snuggling, and napping for more than an hour. At one point, she jumped off the bed and left the room. I thought she might return to her room, but after about a minute she came back to the bed. Dorothy has agreed that this is her “Forever Home“.
I think that it’s more than a coincidence that Dorothy became an “orphan” within a month of Spider’s crossing of the “Rainbow Bridge“. Granted, there were fewer than 6 degrees of separation between us.
- Dorothy lived with Jan’s mother.
- Jan and Connie are neighbors and friends.
- Connie and I are former colleagues and friends.
- Connie sent me e-mail after reading my post entitled “Requiem“.
That’s only 4 steps, but considering the timing, I think Dorothy and I had a little special help.