Turns out to not be such a good idea.
This is the time of year where I start gearing up mentally for my six-month rental in the mountains and of particular worry is who is going to take care of the cats?
I had thought of taking them with me, but on top of needing rabies shots to go across the border through France, I couldn’t really figure out where I was going to put the kitty litter: not in my bedroom; not in the living room where we’d be putting a foot in it no matter where it was located (never mind the possible odors); definitely not in the kitchen; the bathroom is too small, which left either the balcony off the kitchen or the small storage room off the bathroom. Both of those are not ideal either as it would involve leaving a door open and one would have to be netted, the other has a hole through which they could escape. Upshot of that: no cats in the mountains so we’ll have to organize here. A few obvious stumbling blocks: both housemate and younger son will be gone most of the summer so no easy solution. Hmmm… perhaps adjust their lives so that they live outside during the day, only returning to the house at night as we did with their feline predecessors. That way someone would only have to come once a day – and probably kitty litter duty wouldn’t be as onerous as well.
OK so let’s get them used to the great outside: let them out, which they had been begging to do for several months now and at first all went well. They’d stay in the immediate vicinity and returned with no problem. Then one day Cléa inadvertently got out and had so spend several hours there before I returned home – she was no longer willing to do more than step out onto the front mat and the door needed to be wide open so that she could retreat.
Babette was still adventuresome – heading straight for the neighbors. However, Friday just before I left for several hours I realized that I hadn’t seen her (library book sale). Didn’t have time to do more than open up the usual spots where she gets caught, i.e. the bomb shelter, my cupboard, the entry-way toilet, the winter garden: no Babette. Upon our return vaguely checked all the other possibilities – no Babette. The cleaning lady also missed her so took the search wider afield before she left – no Babette. Around 20:00 I decided to do a round again outside (meanwhile three of us had checked every possible nook and cranny at home where she could have been stuck0) along with the bell that I have used for every cat we ever had. Down to the lake, back around, up to the next street and back all the while ringing my bell: let’s hope that not too many neighbors are currently avoiding my path and wondering when I need to be carted off! Nothing.
Stood in the driveway and rang the bell yet again, then stopped to listen – miao. There she stood right by the usual tree. We’ll probably never know where she had been nor how frightened: one thing is sure, when the neighbor’s grandson came over to finally meet them today, neither would go anywhere near the front door. Hmmm… house sitter? Cat sitter? I may actually have to pay someone to come in twice a day whilst I am gone, as I don’t think they’re going to be ready to go out anytime soon.
And they so wanted to explore, were always begging to be let out to chase those birds, see that imaginary freedom – it’s not always what we think and the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Lesson learned for the cats, but we as humans often make the same mistakes.
So will I too be able to learn from their experience?