Scout and the Art of Compromise

Scout and I are working on our relationship.

He likes to chew on artificial pine, climb to the highest point in any room and knock off of every surface anything not nailed down. I like going home to find things where I left them and love the idea of not having a cat that swings from light fixtures like a little monkey.

So we’re going to compromise. We’ll do things his way.

For real guys, there is no compromise with a cat, especially an eight month old kitten with the playfulness of a baby and the strength of a small tiger.

He’s my little panther.

I lost him the other night. Searched the entire house until making it to the laundry room where I heard a faint jingle. And then up popped his little head!

Like a jack–in-the-box!

He’s cute, right? Of course, I didn’t think he was so cute the previous night when he was knocking vintage items off the top of my kitchen cabinets like a little maniac.

But he is a cat and cats weren’t designed to be down low. They are tiny little killing machines meant to climb high, hide stealthily, sharpen their claws and do as they please.

So instead of trying to stop what I call bad behavior, the new goal is to provide alternate opportunities.

Can you tell I work in marketing? I’m pretty good with a positive spin if you give me a minute to think it through.

So he wants to be up high? I’ve made the top of the linen closet comfortable for him. It’s the highest structure in the bathroom so he can survey his kingdom any time he likes.

If I’m foolish enough to leave a remote control or book on the coffee table, there’s no reason to believe it will be there when I come home. That’s just silly on my part as it is a cat’s duty to knock these things on the floor.

Those top shelf red containers in the laundry room will never have anything inside then because they provide a comfortable, warm and high place for a catnap and this seems to prevent him from trying to wiggle into an old wardrobe in that room or from climbing onto the clean towels in the linen closet. If he wants to roll around in my dirty clothes basket, who am I to argue? He’s not hurting anything.

However, we do have real and serious issues. For example, he chews on and tries to eat every bit of artificial pine in the house and most of the silk vines and flowers. All along, I’ve been scheming to design a Christmas tree situation that he can’t destroy but there’s little I can do about him trying to eat something he cannot digest.

Goodbye Christmas tree! Maybe we can revisit this next year…..

Anyway, the compromising seems to be going well. As long as Scout continues to get everything he wants, we should be fine!

Have a cat story to share? I would love to hear! Have you ever tried giving them a pot of fresh grass to distract them from eating artificial pine? This is my last resort.

Leaving Scout For Adventure

Scout did better while I was gone this last trip. He suffered severe separation anxiety during my late summer western vacation and I wasn’t sure how he would do with being left again but was pleasantly surprised with the results.

This time, he was nice to my mother for the first couple of days and turned a bit mean toward the end.

He isn’t a bad cat but clearly was worried I wasn’t coming back and maybe just a little impatient from all the waiting.

He was the sweetest little boy when I came home. He greeted me at the door, happy to be held, and purring while nuzzling up against my neck and face. This lasted approximately ninety seconds before he turned angry and started biting my hands.

He was upset and this was the only way he knew how to express his anger, fear and sadness. So I let him go at it for a minute before offering my him a toy in exchange for my hands.

Afterward, he had a little snack and, belly full, curled up in his chair by the window for a nap while I did chores.

All was right with the world.

When he woke up, life went on and neither of us spoke another word of my irresponsible disappearance.

I’m hoping it continues to get easier for him and suspect that it will. It has to be hard to be a little animal, a creature of habit who doesn’t understand why his human mom disappears.

I wish there was a way to tell him that, no matter what, I will always come back for him. Since there isn’t a way to tell him, I’ll just have to keep showing him.

Want to read about how Scout did when I took my western adventure? Click here.

Pets, Travel and Separation Anxiety

Scout is about seven months old now and seems comfortable in his role as King of the House. When I planned my summer vacation and arranged for Scout’s care, I thought he would struggle but it never occurred to me that he would be crippled by my absence.

But that’s exactly what happened.

I arranged for my aunt to stay with him for a few days and for my mother to take care of him the remainder of the time. Despite having company and care, Scout was terrified and acted out.

Actually, he was just mean. Viciously mean, in a way that only a terrified pet can be.

When I found Scout, he was about ten weeks old and living on the street. A tiny tyke, he weighed two pounds and had terrible food insecurity issues but was an absolute doll.

Almost immediately, I became his human. He’s nice to other people and happy to play but he’s very quick to come back to me and is even a bit clingy at times. He seems to remember being on his own and to understand that I was his rescuer; he rewards me every day with affection and gratitude.

However, he still gets mad when he’s hungry, scared or feeling somehow insecure so I was apprehensive about leaving.

Turns out I had good reason to be and I feel terrible for the pain he experienced that week and for how mean he was to my family.

Poor little guy. He just missed his mom and didn’t understand.

When I came home he was thrilled to see me, purring and sweet for about ninety seconds. Then he remembered himself and became angry. Another week passed, alternating between being angry and ignoring me before life returned to normal.

I stayed at a friend’s house Monday night and Scout came through like a champ with me being gone for just an overnight. So I’m hopeful that he has figured out that I’ll come home when I leave.

Is it possible future vacations won’t be so scary for him?

Want to read more about Scout? Here’s the story of how I found him and a more recent story about his temperament.

Scout “The Purr Face” Capone

Living with Scout is sometimes like living with a tiny gangster. He is such a sweet boy most of the time – he loves to purr, cuddle and play, graciously accepting attention at almost any time.

But if he’s angry, it’s best to just get out of the way. It gets bad enough that I’m working on a cool gangster name for him. “The Purr Face Capone” is in the lead right now.

I accidentally locked him in the bedroom closet yesterday. About ten or fifteen minutes passed before I realized the house was too quiet and went looking for him. He’s so dark and small he can hide anywhere and nearly disappear so I took my time searching high and low.

When I finally located him, there were just two little furry paws sticking out from under the door. He wasn’t crying or moving. Just waiting patiently for his incompetent mom to notice his distress signal.

His initial reaction upon release from this dark prison was gratitude. He purred and nuzzled and cuddled for about a minute. Then, without notice, gangster kitty took over and I’m pretty sure he wanted me dead.

So he spent the rest of the day trying my patience, defiantly perching on the dining room table for a better view out the window. He knows he’s not allowed up there and he also knows that it makes me angry.

We spent the entire afternoon bickering over the table and over my record collection which he loves to climb on and threaten to chew. He doesn’t actually bite down but strategically places the corner of the record cover in his mouth as though threatening to destroy it. He knows he won’t get sprayed with water if he’s sprawled out over the records.

We appear to be at an impasse.

Just wait till he finds out the internet is calling him “The Purr Face!” Ha, ha. He’ll hire a hit out on me then.

Adventures in Cat Parenting

I bought a playpen for my cat this weekend. It will enable Scout to be outside when I’m working or relaxing. With mesh sides and top, he can see out and safely get plenty of fresh air. It’s not huge- about 36″ in diameter and 23″ inches tall- but it’s a good size for a cat to just hang out and play with toys.

We went outside early this morning so I could work on a project. I set him up in the shade and provided several toys as well as fresh water to keep him happy for a while.

And he was happy… for a while.

He sat and looked around, watching the birds and chattering occasionally. And then he started chattering to me.

Loudly.

The next thing I knew, there was a scuffling noise and I turned around in time to see the aftermath of what appeared to be a riot. He had overturned the playpen, dumping his bowl and scattering toys everywhere.

And then he started to cry.

I ran to get him out and he purred happily, cozying up underneath my chin as we went back to the house.

Evidently, he just wanted a little attention.

This week has been an exercise in patience as I try to persuade him to drink more water. He refuses to drink from a bowl so I bought him one of those kitty water fountains to insure he always has fresh water. But he parades past that thing to beg for fresh water in the sink.

He’s not at all spoiled, right?

Has It Been Two Weeks Already?

Scout came into my life just two weeks ago but has already taken over the house, my sleep schedule and all manner of other things in that short time.

Lightening quick and so dark he absorbs light, he’s darn near impossible to photograph but has the cutest little baby face.

At just 2.5 pounds, he’s still just a little tyke. He’s too small for a harness so I’m working on leash training with a collar. But seeing as how he is a cat – well, it’s slow going to put it kindly.

He loves short walks in his backpack and I’m optimistic he will get used to the leash so we’ll be adventure ready soon. If it would ever stop raining, I would take him on some little hikes in his backpack that involve a short car ride too.

But it’s evidently monsoon season in Ohio so it has rained basically every day for as long as anyone can remember. Sigh.

Meanwhile, Scout has proven himself quite the escape artist – to the extent I’m thinking about renaming him Houdini.

He loves to play with toys, enjoys watching cartoons on my phone (classic Tom and Jerry is the current favorite), loathes the vacuum cleaner and still thinks the best place for a nap is curled up under my chin.

He’s kept me closer to home than normal these two weeks. Cats tend not to need much attention or care thanks to their independent nature but he’s so small I feel compelled to spend more time with him. He still eats smaller, more frequent meals and laps up every bit of attention you offer.

Life is good with little Scout. He certainly has brightened my world and given me a reason to go home every day. Here’s hoping we can report back on an adventure soon!

Meet Scout

Last week I had the opportunity to rescue a kitten in need. I found him darting into traffic. He had a face full of cobwebs, a handful of fleas and a nasty looking eye.

Prince Charming, he was not.

But he has a sweet personality, is incredibly smart and is such a tiny tot – too little to be on his own – that I simply had to find him a good home. Sadly, it seems everyone around here already has an abundance of cats so I decided to keep him for myself.

Truth is, having a pet right now is not in the plan. I like having the freedom to go out and do as I please, when I want and without worrying about a pet waiting at home.

But I went and did something silly and fell in love with this little guy. My new mission is to make sure his is a happy life.

Those of you who read last week’s story about the Scout will assume he’s named for the car.

He is not.

He’s such a brave and adventurous little soul, the name seemed to fit.

Also, I loved the book “To Kill A Mockingbird” and the book’s iconic character, Scout, so it’s a little tip of the hat to the late Harper Lee.

Scout loves to ride in the car, especially when he can look out the window. I’m planning to use this to my advantage and take him on some road trips. We’ll also work on using a leash and my parents are gifting their new grandchild a hiking backpack made for carrying small pets safely on adventures.

I’m sure people will think I’m crazy but I do not care. Scout will be a well traveled little fellow if I can make it work at all.

Meanwhile, he is so little he can fit into the oddest places and so dark you can hardly see him. However, his favorite place in the world seems to be curled up on my chest and wedged under my chin. If he can watch cute animal videos on my phone from this vantage point, he’s a happy boy.

I think he knows he’s found a good home and is grateful to be saved. Timing isn’t ideal but I think he came to me for a reason. Whatever it may be, I’m happy to be his.