Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The everyday life of a cat sitter

So I haven't blogged here since July. Shame on me. But time flies when you're having fun.

And having fun I have had. I've taken on a lot more cat sitting work, and boy, let me tell you, it's the most stress-free role I've ever had.

Okay, so there's a lot of driving around, which, depending on the time of day, isn't exactly stress-free, especially when you encounter drivers who seem to have picked their driver's licence out of a cereal packet. But my feline clients for the most part are a joy.

In the last few months I've only come close to being attacked once. By a cat I'll call Sybil.  In fact I'll call her Syko Sybil. (Which looks better on paper than Psycho Sybil.) Here's a cat with personality plus. One personality is nice and normal. The other, the evil twin side, can take the lead in a second. Snarls, growls, hisses and threats. For no particular reason. She's healthy, before you ask. She gets regularly checked by the vet, but she's a rescue cat and who knows what went on in her life before her owner took her home and gave her unconditional love (and probably got scratched and bitten a lot since then).

Some cats are ambivalent. "Oh, you've come to feed me. Good. Feed me and I'll bugger off and sleep somewhere. Cheers." They eat, ignore you patting them and encouraging them to come for a cuddle, and stalk off. Cats will be cats.

Some are love bunnies, and it's these I enjoy the most. They miss their humans and want contact. Pats, strokes, cuddles, brushing. I have heard purrs in every key, and been climbed on and head butted by dozens of joyful furbabies who enjoy my company as much as I enjoy theirs.

The most rewarding in the last few months has been a pair of Sphynx brothers. I'll call them Da Boyz. I've never really been excited by the idea of a basically hairless cat. Photos show them wrinkled and often, it seems, with a frown on their face. I thought touching them would be weird. It is, in a nice kind of way. They are covered in peach fuzz. Their feet, bony and prehensile, are strangely enchanting. They are agile and very smart; think of a cat who thinks it's a monkey. Their tails are like whips; thin and tapered, and they curl them up elegantly against their flanks when they sit. Waiting for their food, standing up and yelling at me, their tails quiver expectantly.

I've minded Da Boyz twice. The first time was only for a few days and they were keen to tell me they wanted food, and didn't mind the odd pat. But no cuddles thanks. Feed us, clean up after us and we'll watch you and get a bit closer each day.

This month I've had them again, for two and a half weeks on and off. And things have changed between us. Firstly Smaller Boy decided he'd hop up on my knee for a cuddle after food, and he did, nestling his very warm body against mine and purring furiously. His bigger brother watched from on top of a cupboard for a couple of days and then decided it was his turn.

Well. Big Brother has been the most affectionate cat I've ever minded. After feeding (and settling himself for a pee on the toilet - they are both trained to pee over a human loo) he would run to the sofa and jump up, yelling at me to get my butt over there too. Then he'd settle on my knee, firstly kneading me, then marking me by rubbing his head all over the front of my clothing. I'll never wear a white t-shirt to his place again! He would gently touch my cheeks with a soft paw, and lie in my arms like a baby, purring furiously and gazing lovingly into my eyes.

I found I was really looking forward to visiting Da Boyz each day as they were so engaging and loving. After a bit you don't miss the fur; you just cuddle the warm feline body and get smooched and adored in return.

Their owner is a lovely person too; I contact all owners with updates and pics daily, and some respond at length and others don't. Da Boyz's owner is as outgoing and delightful as the cats.

Then there's Chubby Girl The Food Obsessed, who has to have her food measured out in timer bowls which go off at intervals so she doesn't binge eat. She's a butterball and on a strict diet but somehow doesn't seem to lose weight. She's quite affectionate and playful. Her friend Timid Tom on the other hand hides in a cupboard and has his food in a special bowl than will only open to the chip embedded in his collar so Chubby Girl can't steal it. My role with him is to leave the food out and just check he's okay; Chubby likes a brushing and for me to throw balls for her, or some kibble, so she gets exercise by chasing it, preferably up the stairs.

I have, for my sins, agreed to work for four hours on Christmas Day doing cat sitting. The owner of the cat sitting biz has mobility issues and can't handle places with stairs, whereas I look on stairs as fitness aids. My husband G is ok with this, as we're having seafood for lunch rather than the whole baked turkey thing, but it's going to feel weird heading out to work on the country's Big Day Off. But if I don't feed these little sweeties, who will? It's not as if cats celebrate Christmas.

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