By Sarah Herlong
For this latest trip to a writer’s conference, I wrote instructions for the sitters, two pages for the cats, and one page for mother. I put a lot of work into writing instructions and enjoy it as much as writing a story. Here I share my truncated page of cat instructions.
Ours is a merged feline household. A Brady Bunch of cats. That’s right we have 5 cats, but that’s still 20 less than an animal hoarder.
The Original Gangster
cat showed up at a family reunion as a kitten, and got brought home as part of
the family. That’s what happens when you crash someone else’s family reunion.Spooky: Cream-colored
seal point with stunning blue eyes. He’s the only male. And this means my cats
relentlessly chase him when they’re outside. Inside they’re civil.
Found under the compactor of our local dump. They are actually 2 years old now.
Josephine: She is a fluffy black cat. Her eyes resemble an owl and she is a gentle soul. In a show of solidarity she hangs out with the other black cats in my room.
My Old Cats
Rescued shelter cat and failed foster kitten. They stay in my room.
Hortense: She’s a black and white tuxedo. She has no faults except pooping and peeing on my bedclothes when trapped in the room with no access to the bathroom. Learned that one the hard way with an inattentive pet sitter.
Zoe: She’s another fluffy black cat. She’s got a smoker’s meow and the temperament of a smoker kicking the habit. She looks like she’s missing hair around her neck and on her tail…and she is. To tell them apart, Josephine has an upbeat attitude and never meows. Zoe is sarcastic and only looks at you with the stink eye. She meows her smoker’s meow often. Whereas the other cats will move out of your way, she gets in your way and you have to step over her, even in the dark. She has not figured out that we humans can’t see in the dark or maybe she just doesn’t care. Zoe will cut you if you try to pick her up.
The three black cats segregate themselves into my set of rooms separated from the rest of the world by the kitchen pullout door. If this door is not treated correctly it is the portal to anarchy. Creepily Josephine and Isis can open the partition door so it is important to keep my bedroom door closed too.
My old cats exclusively come in and out of the house through the left window over the orange table in my room. This is where they eat. Being black you won’t see them in the window at night and will have to open it just to see if they’re there. They grew up free feeding, so they like little amounts of food throughout the day if they stay inside. The other cats get fed in the morning and then again around 4:00 pm which they interpret as between 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm. Basically the feeding chair is magic to them. They sit in it, and food appears. I never said they were geniuses.