Saturday, I brought home a new cat. It’s been exactly two months since I lost my old cat. This was an adoption from a friend of a friend. His name is currently Charlie, but it’s hard to say what it will eventually be. He’s your average white and multicolor tabby cat.
I drove him home today and this is the first cat I’ve had that does a freakout in the cat carrier – scrabbling and thrashing around. He was so spastic he scratched his own nose. Great, injured on the first day of parenthood. That makes me look like a perfect pet owner. However, I turned on some smooth jazz and he was chilled out for the rest of the trip.
Then when I got home, I let him out of the carrier and he was expectedly a little upset by his new surroundings. I let him do his exploring, which didn’t really go how I expected. After leaving him on his own for a little bit, I went in search of Charlie and he had jammed himself in a corner behind a drawer unit. That’s pathetic. He let me reach in and pet his head, so he wasn’t panicked, just scared.
A little while later, he came out and hid a little more in the open. I picked him up and he was ok with being held a little. I sat with him on the floor and he stretched out against me but after a bit, he went back to his corner. The next couple hours were spent on the floor beside me while I wrote this. I once carried him out to the kitchen area where his food and water were and he had no interest in it, slinking back to the office. I guess if there’s going to be a favorite room for Charlie, the office might as well be the one.
His acclimation took quicker than I thought given his initial behavior. He started coming out of the corner to my hand within half an hour. He would chill out beside me at the desk. Sometimes he would do some quick grooming licks, which was encouraging. Within two hours he would jump up onto my lap on his own accord. During an extended lap session, he started swishing his tail. Up to that point, he had kept his tail tucked or tight against his body in a fearful posture. He explored and sniffed some objects nearby, but still was skittish at every sound the house made. I don’t think he realizes he’s the only cat here. Now he’s on the floor stretched out and grooming, tail extended.
Charlie ended up spending the first night in the office alone. When I woke up in Sunday morning, I went to see him and he was sociable. I carried him to the master bedroom and held him on my lap while he stressed about being in a new room. After a while, I let him down and he slinked back to the office. Once back in his room, he was happy again and I praised him for the effort.
A couple hours later, I pulled him back to the bedroom and tried again. Charlie was less upset this time and when he jumped down, he didn’t leave the room. Instead, he crawled under the bed. The foster family told me he likes to hang out under furniture, so I figured this would be fine. He spent many hours under there. When I would check on him, he seemed content, stretched out or grooming. Lots of yawning. But he didn’t want to come out just yet. After about 8 hours , Charlie still had no interest in coming out.
At the 11 hour mark, I’d had enough. He wasn’t coming out for food or play or petting, so I pulled the mattress down and dragged him out. He didn’t protest, but at the same time, he did not like the transport through the house to “his room”. Once in his safe zone, though, he started purring again and was eager to jump up and sit in my lap. Then he noticed the food and had his dinner. Then more lap time. Then down on the floor. Then MORE lap time. He’s a pretty clingy cat when he’s not hiding. If he had his way, he’d sit in my lap all day.
In the second overnight spent in the office, Charlie used his litterbox, which I consider a great success. In the morning, he was eager for his wet food, and drank a lot of water while I supervised. As far as I can tell, he hasn’t explored outside the office, although at one point earlier in the evening, when he was happy and excited, he unexpectedly chased me into the hallway. Without wanting to push his comfort level, I stopped and we went back into the office, where he stayed.
Thinking back to Rump’s acclimation process, she spent many of her first days shut in the spare bedroom. Ever since then, that was “her” room. If you were in her room, she was very pleased to spend time in there with you. I expect the same thing will be true of Charlie, that he will always have his room in the office. As long as he gains enough confidence over time to roam the house, that will be fine. But we’re only on day three right now. Plenty of time to grow.