Monday, May 15, 2006

One Sunny Week

It’s been one week since Sunny came to live with us. During this time my feelings have ranged from desperation, awe, disgust, delight, and finally love. John gets home in four days to discover Sunny first hand. But it’s already too late, Sunny is here to stay.

Last Sunday he slept and hid and then peed and pooped on a stack of John’s old t-shirts. (John doesn’t know about this yet, and I’m not so sure he needs to.) I shut my eyes to the problem and instead took a drive up the coast to a fu-fu pet shop where I paid far too much for some quite adorable non-necessities. I rationalized it with the thought that I’m a middle-aged woman with no kids in sight (nor desired) who ought to at least be able to spoil her cat! When I returned he was still exhausted, scared and rather bewildered by his new circumstances. But my purchase of a carpeted triangle wedge cubby hole with multiple-sized windows, attached fake mice and a coating of catnip was a real winner. His time in my study was over, though. His pooping indiscretion had earned him a stay in the all tile boy’s bathroom. (It also lacks t-shirts.)

On Monday Sunny was well rested and ready to play. I built him a huge playpen out of heavy cardboard so that he could be in the living room with us without the fear of being attacked by Piper or eaten by Annie. That amused and contained him for about a day.

On Tuesday he broke free. This meant he could only be in the living room under strict supervision. Annie had to be on her leash and Piper watched at all times. Plus he still hadn’t mastered the litter box, so I required him to make frequent trips to the boy’s bathroom to become reacquainted with it. In all of my years of stray cat adoption, I have never known a cat not to immediately adapt to the litter box. Every one of my cats (and I’m afraid that’s no small number) has instinctively known to use it and had no more than a single accident. Whoever had Sunny before me must have paper trained him, because when I gave him a piece of tissue paper to play with it, he immediately peed on it!

Tuesday was also Sunny’s first visit to the vet where he received a near perfect bill of health, a vaccine, and an antibiotic to help with his outrageously pernicious, unimaginably vile smelling and un-litter-box-contained diarrhea. The vet also suggested I feed him only strained turkey baby food until he recovered, which smells almost as bad as the diarrhea!

None of this slowed him down though. Sunny was absolutely delighted by life and the wealth of play toys he discovered in his new home, like a scrap of paper that had fallen to the floor, my laptop cable, the leaves on the houseplant and Piper’s tail. He performed acrobatic maneuvers that amazed the rest of us, literaly somersaulting through the air, hoisting himself up on the couch, dangling from the cushions on the dinning room chairs, and loping down the hall like a kangaroo. Annie and Piper each thought themselves in hell. Annie because she had discovered the perfect chew toy but wasn’t allowed to eat it, and Piper because she couldn’t seem to escape this cheery, playful, indefatigable little beast.

And so went Wednesday and Thursday. During this time Piper’s hissing became less frequent, and though Annie still licked her lips when she saw Sunny, she occasionally had moments of calm in his presence. On one of these days I discovered that Sunny and Piper could in fact tolerate each other without my refereeing. (I ‘discovered’ this when I accidentally closed Piper in the same room with Sunny while I went off to school.) That was a huge step forward. However, Sunny still couldn’t sleep through the night, and the rest of us were becoming exhausted.

On one of these days (perhaps induced by sleep deprivation) I declared Sunny litter box trained and did not confine him to the bathroom that night. Annie and I went off to bed, shut the door to our room, and slept straight through to morning. I woke to discover my down comforter, which seems to reside on a living room couch, covered in diarrhea. Dear God, surely I am made for more than picking up poop! I already had to clean Piper’s litter box, Sunny’s litter box and litter box surroundings (I think sometimes he hangs his butt out over the edge), and pick up after Annie when we go for a walk. And now this! I recovered from my melt down, cleaned up and returned Sunny to the bathroom to pay for my parenting mistakes.

Friday was another day. By then Annie was rather used to traversing the house attached to my hip, and Piper had stopped hissing. Annie no longer acted as if she would die if she didn’t get to eat Sunny, but like she might simply stroke-out instead. Meanwhile Sunny got promoted to larger digs, back to my study, and John’s bathroom got a thorough cleaning so that it would be ready for his return.

On Saturday I came to the conclusion that all of our lives would be much less stressful if instead of having the four of us simultaneously occupy the living room, I rotated who was allowed in at any given time. Being the epitome of queenly behavior, Piper was always welcome, as was I. Annie and Sunny got to take turns.

By Sunday I was even better at this rotation scheduling and was able to enjoy more discoveries about Sunny. I watched him and Piper play chase and hide-and-seek. Piper and I used to play those games! I learned just how much Sunny likes his belly rubbed, his face nuzzled and his paws played with. I got to rub Annie’s tummy again, too, because she wasn’t always sitting in wait for Sunny. The vet warned me to keep a close eye on Annie until Sunny is bigger than a rat and can defend himself against Ann's inescable terrier genetics. And I will.

I also have more time for myself. Today I finished writing my last final exam for the semester, selected new textbooks for the fall, and had enough energy to lengthen my run to two miles. And those t-shirts? They are once again clean and fresh smelling, and I’m almost half way through turning them into a t-shirt quilt for John. Now that should be enough to make him forgive Sunny, don’t you think?

1 comment:

JB said...

After 12 years on this earth, Little Guy went to heaven this summer. Big Guy is having his second wind, and he spends most of his time outdoors exploring and rolling around in the dirt. He's a new man.

Back in the '90's, I threw two down comforters into the trash in the span of one year after Little Guy peed on them. I tried desperately to restore the first one. Two seperate dry cleaners couldn't remove the musk. I threw the second one right into the dumpster, and I banned Little Guy from the house for a week after that. Secretly, Gabe put food and water out for him. Gabe was merciful.

Since Big Guy has been an indoor/outdoor cat, I haven't had to change the litter box once. I just hope the coyotes don't get him.