June 2nd, 2008

just me

Ghost Cat

Although I noticed last Tuesday that food was disappearing from the new cat's food bowl, I had to surmise that it was going into the new cat, because I wasn't actually seeing her eat. Or seeing her do anything else.

Boss: "So, how's the new cat?"
Me: "Hiding under the stairs."

Cat-giver's Sister: "So, how's the new cat?"
Me: "Hiding under the stairs."

Co-worker, after work at the bar: "So, how's the new cat?"
Me: "Hiding under the stairs."

Incidentally, I did end up going back to the bar on Friday night to hang out with my co-workers. I needed to do something for exercise anyway, and I didn't want to jog or use the exercise bike, so I counted "walking back to the bar" as exercise instead. This time, I brought my purse. I did not, however, bring my ID which for whatever reason is not in my purse. Sigh. The waitress took pity on me this time and let me stay. ("Here's what we're gonna do. I'm gonna bring you a margarita, with salt. And if Liquor Control comes in, you're gonna slip quietly out the back door, okay?")

At about 9:30, the gathering broke up. One co-worker and her friend were going across the street to another bar. "Wanna come with us?"

"I should get home."

"They have dancing there."

"Oooooh. They do?" Despite temptation -- I promised to go if she invited me again at a future date -- I decided to go home anyway.

Ghost Cat was still hiding in the basement. I armed myself with a Lois McMaster Bujold book and a flashlight, and took a seat on one of the big plastic tubs in dark miserable section of the extension adjacent to the underside of the stairs. "Hi, Ghost Cat. I'm just going to sit here awhile and read, so's you know that there are humans in this house and not just the ants and spiders and stuff you're living down here with."

Around page seven, Ghost Cat ventured out of hiding to investigate me. Once she was out and sniffing at me, she became quite friendly, rubbing against my legs, coming to my hand to be petted, and purring up a storm. I petted her a lot and read a couple dozen more pages before going back upstairs.

Saturday, Ghost Cat was brave enough to venture to the first floor and camp outside the door, mewing for attention. Since the area where I'm keeping her is an extension to the main house, the door between the extension and the rest of the house is a typical outer door, with a glass window for the top half. So I could see her through it if I stood next to it and looked down. I opened it, intending to step outside and pet her. Then I decided to let Ash venture out and meet her again.

As it turned out, Ghost Cat was more interested in coming in than Ash in going out, so the two of them squared off in my kitchen. Ash was not happy about the interloper. She hissed occasionally and made a couple of bats in Ghost's general direction. I scolded her somewhat half-heartedly for this. On the one hand, I don't want Ash hissing at Ghost and I definitely don't want her swiping at her. On the other, it's sort of a cat thing and I don't think I've got a whole lot of influence over the matter. Ghost is going to have to demonstrate her inoffensiveness for herself. Also, I'm worried that if I scold or thwap Ash very much over her behavior towards Ghost, it'll just make Ash resent and dislike Ghost more. ("Rowyn never yelled at me until you came along, you little homewrecking hussy! Mreww!" *smack*)

Fortunately, Ghost is being surprisingly tolerant of Ash's illwill. Ghost has hissed at me a number of times, for reasons never clear to me (but usually when I'm standing or moving around, and never when I'm close to her or petting her; it seems more like a fear/surprise thing than annoyance or anger). By contrast, Ghost hasn't hissed at Ash at all, much less menaced her, and has shown a certain amount of deference to (or at least wariness of) Ash.

Late Saturday night, after segregating the cats again, I heard a loud *th-thump* sound, as if the outside door to the extension had been opened and closed loudly. Lut was in bed, so I did a sweep of all the exterior doors, but everything looked in order; I put it down to the wind and a screen door.

Sunday, Ghost came to the door while Lut was alone in the kitchen. The first time she'd seen Lut, she'd fled in terror, and he hadn't seen her since. This time, she was eager enough for attention that when he opened the door she came in to be petted. Then Lut called me in to referee between Ghost and Ash. Ash made a few more threat displays and did make contact with a paw at one point (no damage done). But Ash was willing to leave Ghost alone as long as Ghost stayed at least a couple of feet away. Mostly, Ash just watched the intruder and looked grumpy about the whole thing. Ghost got lots of petting (though not as much as Ash) and prowled all over the kitchen. She even ventured a couple of feet into the living room before I put her back into the extension so I could sit at my computer again without supervising cats.

As I was leaving the kitchen, I heard the loud *th-thump* sound again. I turned to see what it was, and burst out laughing: Ghost Cat was clinging to the lip of the window frame on the kitchen door, so that her head and paws were visible as she peered into the kitchen. The scene had the look of a cat standing on her hindlegs to look through something, except that Ghost Cat is a little cat and there'd need to be at least a foot and a half more of her for her to pull off that trick. Still, there was that mental image of a very long, very skinny cat with a tiny head peering through my kitchen door.

This morning saw a little more cat-time, with not much progress on intercat relations. Still, it's an improvement over the cat that I thought might dehydrate herself to death last Monday. Maybe this'll work out after all.