Friday, January 2, 2009

The Taming of Baby Grey

Baby Grey came to us in May 2005 after our elderly neighbour, Mr. Lefebure, passed away. Baby Grey is the son of Schatzie,who, if you were paying attention, runs our household. The "Old Hag" is over 20 years old. Baby Grey has to be a year of so younger, because as the legend goes he was from her first and only litter.

Baby Grey has been a barn cat his entire life. Well, until this week, that is:

This was the week Baby Grey decided to move in.

Baby has been a streak on the landscape since his little carpet was moved from Mr. Lefebure's shed and into our barn beside the house years ago. He was the most wild and untameable cat I have ever had. We barely saw him, we couldn't touch him, the only indication we had of his existence was an empty cat food bowl at the end of the day.

Most of our friends didn't even know we had 2 grey cats, they thought Schatzie and Baby Grey, if they caught sight of him, were one and the same.

But Schatzie caught on quickly; she soon gave up the great out-of-doors as her stomping ground, and decided to move into the house. For the past 2 years or so, she doesn't even entertain the idea of going out. Only on the sunniest, warmest days does she poke her nose outside, and then only under our supervision, because she is quite frail and defenseless compared to our other bruisers who are all nearly double her size. Schatzie likes her indoors schedule: a nap in the Catnip Convertible bed by the wood stove, meow plaintively for special expensive wet food for her consumption only, receive petting therapy. She then goes on what we call the day shift: after breakfast (more special wet food), Madame bolts upstairs with a burst of energy, settling in on our bed for the day. She will only come downstairs at dinnertime, and so the cycle continues...

Schatzie is opportunistic: she has never met a lap she didn't like. Most of our friends humour her, and leave our house covered in cat hair, muttering silently under their breath. Schatzie has that kind of baby-fine hair that gets into your eyes, and clings on every conceivable surface. Thankfully, Schatzie loves to be vacuumed, otherwise the already copious amount of cat and dog hair I have to beat back each day would be even more voluminous. My attitude regarding dog and cat grooming is, if the pet tolerates vacuuming, I might as well vacuum the animal directly, bypassing the floor as the inevitable resting ground for the masses of fur. With 3 cats and a dog, seemingly all I do some days is vacuum, vacuum and vacuum some more. Other days I don't even try to keep up, and I pay the price. Better to vacuum a bit every day is my resounding attitude.

But back to Baby.

I used to feed him in the barn. That meant going outside, which is fine in the summer, but not-so-fine in the winter. I started to move his bowl towards the patio door, and he caught on quickly. From the step in front of the patio door, he started to venture slowly inside. In the summer time, I'd leave the patio door wide open, and keep his food inside. He would come in, eat hastily, and leave again. In the winter, this proved more challenging: he would bolt the minute he saw anyone, but slowly, ever so slowly, he started to trust us. Sometimes he would let me pet him as he ate, then suddenly, he stopped eating as I petted him, and focused only on how nice it felt to be petted. Then I started to brush him, a completely new sensation once again. It took several years, but finally, we were starting to tame Baby Grey.

Several days ago, after coming in to eat, I forgot about Baby Grey. Normally he meows to be let out after eating, but this day, I think Baby Grey finally decided we weren't out to get him. Maybe inside wasn't such a bad place, after all. He settled down on the dining room chair, and that's where he spent the night. I keep a litter box for him in the barn which I know he uses, so getting him to use the litter box in the house was not a problem. He's started to hang around a little bit more every day, and most definitely prefers the great out-of-doors to inside, however, he is a pretty good example of perseverance paying off.

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