We decided not to take our cats on vacation with us because we are, for the most part, sane. (No wisecracks, there.) The cats remained at home with someone to come minister to them once a day during our trip.
Cats don’t understand vacation. Indoor cats, in particular, think of life as a vacation and spend entire days doing what we had to pay gobs of money to do: lounging around, sleeping late, eating food they didn’t have to prepare. They think leaving their home is a tragedy worthy of an epic poem (which they compose vociferously in their cat carriers) and after arriving in a new location, they promptly find someplace to hide from eagles and turtles. Behind the washing machine is a safe place, they tell me. Not a single eagle or turtle has ever gotten them back there.
The first time my Patient Husband was away overnight for a job interview, back when Cat#1 was barely out of kittenhood, I noticed her getting nervous as I got ready for bed. When I turned off the lights, she let out a heartbroken yowl. I didn’t need a translator for that one. It was clearly, “You forgot him! You always go before dinner and get him, but tonight you forgot!”
A lot of lawn has been mowed since those days. Our two older cats no longer care if we’re here, as long as food appears.
Jerina, on the other hand, had never been in this house without us before. And I admit, to my shame, that I hadn’t considered how our absence would be interpreted by a cat who already had been abandoned once by her owners.
Even after four months, she’s skittish. If I approach too quickly, she bolts, then returns. My Patient Husband has taken to calling her “Bweckfith” in a Sylvester-and-Tweetie voice because she acts as if, every time, he plans to eat her in cold blood. We joke that we should have named her Tasty Morsel.
When we returned, Jerina showed herself (highly unusual) and stayed out in the open. She looked distressed. She followed me around.
And then, when I sat on the bed, she got on my lap. She purred. She kneaded. She wouldn’t budge.
That was as plain an “I missed you!” as I could have imagined. She never sits on me (beside me, yes, but not on) and she doesn’t knead on me. But that night, she stayed beside me, cuddling me, kneading on me, purring.
Don’t go again.
She loves us. She’s only been here four months, and we have reason to believe her previous owners were mean, but she thinks of this as home. It’s a good thing. It’s a very good thing.