I could feel their piercing eyes while moving quickly to tend to their needs. I was worried a sudden move would land one of them on my back, so my palms were sweating when I dropped the bowl. By the time I stood back up, they were gone.
When my sister asked me to watch her cats, I was hesitant because I’ve always just had dogs and my last encounter with one of her cats wasn’t good. Every time I walked past this cat, it would swipe at my legs, sometimes connecting, sometimes not. There wasn’t any reason for the cat to have a vendetta against me, although I think it secretly knew I don’t have much use for felines.
They don’t bark when someone unknown enters the house, aren’t happy to see you and couldn’t care less if you pay any attention to them, and I’m pretty sure they never blink. Both cats would sit on top of the shelves in the kitchen and stare at me as though I was intruding into their space. When I put out their food, I expected them to run to their bowls and gobble it up, but instead they just continued to give me the evil eye.
Cleaning the litter box was interesting. I expected it to smell, but it didn’t. The system was easy enough — scoop, sift and throw away the remnants. I wonder if dogs could be taught to use one. It’s a lot easier to clean up, although our 100-pound Lab would need a sandbox size to accommodate him. It probably wouldn’t look or smell good sitting in the corner of the front room, and the amount of litter needed would be ridiculous.
Being a fur baby mom myself, I wanted to send my sister pictures of her cats every day, just to accidentally prove I hadn’t actually let one outside and that they were still alive. I’m fairly certain the cats could read my mind because as soon as I thought they were in a spot I could get their picture, they were gone. News flash — cats are really good at hiding and can sit still for a long time. Dogs could never hide that long — they’d either start panting or wagging their tail.
On the fourth day, one of them left a hairy ball of puke on the floor. I snapped a picture and was getting ready to ask Siri what was wrong when my sister called.
“Oh, I guess I should have told you that would happen,” she said. “One of the cats pukes a hairball every week.” How delightful.
If you’re going to have someone watch your cats, make sure there’s nothing under your bed you don’t want anyone to see. I’ve looked through her closets, under the bed, furniture and anywhere else a cat might hide, and I must say, she’s either a much better house cleaner than I am or cats don’t shed like dogs do.
On the last day, one of the cats decided I was OK and let me pet her. The other one hissed at me when I tried to give her a treat.
The cats survived a week with a dog owner, so I guess I’m now the cats’ meow.
Sandy Turner is a mom, grandma, former caretaker and retired journalist living in Missouri who writes a weekly column about home, family relationships and keeping positive during challenging times.