Sunday, June 25, 2017

There's a Cat Behind the Front Door

Blitz does not want to go outside.

Oh, he's drawn to the screen by flies and moths on the other side. He'll claw at it until I tell him to stop. And he occasionally stares at the birds in the birdbath, but he doesn't want to go out there. It's scary out there. The minute I slide the screen open to go out, he's gone, deeper in the house where I won't kick him out. I try to tell him I'm not about to kick him out, but he's still afraid.

Seth is the cat who wants to go outside. Whenever I water the flowers on my deck or refill the hummingbird feeder, Seth sits at the other side of the screen and states that he intends to come out. I wish you could hear it, not a plaintive tone to his meow. It's a statement, "You will bring me outside now."

If I have time to sit with him, I'll come in and pick up his harness. As soon as he hears its jingle, he's on the back of the recliner waiting for me to figure out which way his harness goes. He's impatient for me to loop it over his head and lift his foot through, left foot or right, I can never remember. Eventually, I get it all untangled and strapped onto him and then we go outside where I snap him onto Teddy's cable and he can walk along the back side of the house while I prop up my feet, read a book, and listen for the hummingbirds. Sometimes the cable gets caught up in weeds. You should see Seth, almost falling over, like a cat that doesn't like the dress his little girl dressed him in. Then, I have to walk down the slippery ramp and rescue him from the weeds. Most of the time, though, he sits and stares at the birds in the bushes. He definitely doesn't want me to go inside. At this point, he's spent eleven years inside our house with only occasional forays outside on a leash, so he isn't happy being outside on his own. These days, he gets tired sooner and drags his heavy cable back up the slippery ramp and stands at the door until I let him in. Sometimes, if I bring out a pillow, he'll sit in the chair opposite me, enjoying the sunshine and staring at the hummingbird feeder. I'm amazed that they feed with him so close, but they do.

Then, we go inside and snap off the harness and he's good for a least twenty-four hours before he's trying to sneak out the door again.

Bringing groceries in from Costco is a hazard with Seth waiting at the front door. I will use my key and open the door just a bit. His nose is there, just waiting for an opening to escape. Shit. Even if he's not there at first, he'll appear after my first trip into the house with an armload of stuff.

Costco takes at least five trips in and out of the house, sometimes more.

For each one, I have to balance my load, turn the knob to the door, check for the nose, reposition the load to block Seth's exit, then bulldoze my way in with some large object blocking his escape. Then, I need to put my load down onto the bench opposite the door and hope Seth hasn't found that ten seconds gap and escaped to the hazards of a nearby highway or a pack of coyotes in wait. If I'm successful, I have to either find his kennel and shove his unwilling body into it or go through this balance and dance process each and every trip into the house with my Costco loads.

If he actually escapes, I have to take a deep breath, say a prayer, and unload the rest of my Costco purchases. It will do no good to try to capture him when he first gets out. So then, I'll go into the house and put away all my stuff, hoping beyond hope that Seth doesn't make it down to the highway before I get back outside. The balance of time is precarious.

This makes Nick furious. There's a chance Seth might get hit. There's definitely that chance. But the difference is that if Nick goes outside to find Seth, he'll come right to him. If I go out to get Seth before he's ready to come inside, he'll let me get within a finger's reach, grin, and run away from me. That only pisses me off and extends the game.

If I go inside, Seth quickly gets uncomfortable at being outside alone and he'll leap into my arms when I come back out, as long as I've left him out there long enough. The problem is that what is long enough for me, no time at all, is shorter than what is long enough for him which is ten or fifteen minutes. Going out multiple times only extends the game.

The worst is when I have some reason I need to bolt off again and I'm sweaty from unloading $372,16 worth of groceries, I have to arrive at a meeting in fifteen minutes, and I have just enough time to sit in the car beforehand with the air conditioner on and gather my wits. When that happens, chasing the damned cat around the back of the house to bring him inside is miserable and nearly impossible. Seth can feel my need.

Mike says I should leave him out there and just go, but I've never had the nerve. How would I explain to Nick that his beloved cat is flat because I didn't have ten extra minutes to chase him around the house before my PTSA meeting? How?

Life comes into perspective when you start thinking about how someone could die out there.  So, over and over, I do it the same way. I'll do it the same way for the next six or seven years if I have to.

If I have a meeting with you and I'm ten minutes late, breathless, and sweaty, you'll know I've been chasing Seth through the weeds at the back of the house again.

Thank you for listening, jb

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