My cat Juliean lived at the humane society for two years, and nobody would adopt her. Simply put, she is crabby beyond words. Beautiful … but crabby.
Why did I adopt her?
Because she looked me in the eye and said, “You are my human.”
The same reason I adopted Molly.
After I promised to adopt Juliean, I was thrilled to discover that she’s as much of an outdoors enthusiast as I am. She’s perfectly comfortable in a harness and leash and even tolerates a clumsy human sneaking up on birds with her.
She’s tolerated a few other things, too …
It was winter when I brought Juliean home to my new apartment–the coldest winter I can ever remember. The furkids and I eventually gave up on any idea of cross country skiing and winter hikes and basically hibernated.
Once the worst of the weather lifted, Juliean was thrilled to get out on her leash again.
I quickly learned that Her Crabbiness and I had a serious difference of opinion. One or two outings a day simply were not enough for her. I could walk with her for an hour, but as soon as I let her back in, she was meowing at the door to go back out.
And we’re not talking sweet, plaintive little mews.
The more I took her outside, and the more the temps warmed up, the worse it got. Her noisy desperation was so much like a cat in heat, I questioned whether she was really spayed. But I knew she had been one of the cats to receive a donated spay surgery while she lived at the shelter.
Her meowing was so loud, I was afraid the neighbors would complain. But I wasn’t keen on kicking her out the door unsupervised. Juliean has two modes: Sleeping and getting into trouble.
Setting up a schedule she could learn to count on didn’t help. Giving her a place to sit in a sunny, open window didn’t help. (She’d wait for somebody to walk by and yell, “Help! Bust me outta here!”)
I Googled “cat won’t quit meowing at the door” and learned that the only way to stop the racket was to cut off her outdoor privileges cold turkey.
It broke my heart. She loved going outdoors, and I loved taking her outdoors.
Two months on restriction went by–but she still hadn’t forgotten her thirst for the World Beyond the Door. A squirt bottle did nothing. Herbal essances and a pheremone diffuser only helped a little. Frequent play sessions with catnip and strings and laser lights were appreciated, but not nearly enough to expend her seemingly endless energy. Night and day, she took up her vigil by the door, depriving me of sleep, writing hours, and sanity.
It got to the point where Molly cringed every time Juliean meowed–knowing that the cat’s meow was a trigger that made me frustrated.
I couldn’t bear to have Molly anxious. Not to mention, the cat pretty much hated me.
“Fine!” I said after two nights of nothing but Juliean singing and Molly wandering from room to room, trying to find a place to hide. I opened the door and kicked Juliean out of the building. “You win.”
Juliean stood on the front stoop, her eyes wide. Oh my gosh. I’m outside.
I pointed a finger at her. “Whatever you do, don’t annoy the neighbors. You’ll get in trouble with the landlady. Or worse, get us evicted. So don’t screw this up.”
Juliean just stared across the yard. Oh my gosh. I’m outside.
“Yeah. Have fun. I’ll check on you in an hour.”
I went back in.
Forty-five minutes later, someone knocked on my door. One of my neighbors stood there, trying to hang on to a squirming Juliean.
“This your cat?” he asked.
I sighed. Busted already? “Was she getting into trouble?”
“No. I just saw her sitting outside and thought maybe she got out by accident.”
Ha! He had no idea.
“I talked to the landlady,” he went on, “and she said there was a cat in this apartment. So we figured it must be yours.”
I raised an eyebrow at Juliean, who by this time had squirmed out of my neighbor’s hands and was trying to decide which way to run. So you’ve met the landlady? I asked her.
Juliean bolted into my apartment and hid in the bathroom.
I told my neighbor there was no mistake; I had merely lost the war to convert her to an indoor cat. I thanked him, had another talk with Juliean, and put her back outside.
Over the next three days, I met nearly half my neighbors, who either knocked on my door or called the number on Juliean’s ID tag. In each instance, she had been in no trouble. My neighbors were just making sure she wasn’t lost.
In fact, I’m surprised. Miss I-Can’t-Keep-Out-of-Trouble has been a model citizen so far. The two little boys in my building adore her, as do the kids next door. One day I went out to check on her and found a young couple petting and playing with her in the grass. “I miss my cats back home,” the young woman said. Now that everybody knows where she lives, they let her into the building for me, and I now hear Juliean meowing on the outside of my door, asking to be let in.
Her shining behavior isn’t the only surprise. Queen Crabby has recently been observed weaving around my legs, purring for no particular reason, and even head-butting me (while I’m trying to work). She even enjoys a few cuddles now and again–something she used to shun.
Thanks for listening to me, she says.
Then under her breath she adds, Humans are so dense.