Confessions Of A Florentine Pet Sitter
© 2010 by Susan Canavarro
Violet is a small, but fully grown cat. She is shy. She always runs away from me, scampering into the closet or under the bed when I walk into the room. She will not let me pet her back or head nonetheless pick her up. When I first arrived at Violets home, Violet and her boyfriend, Francis, a mixed bob-tailed cat, always slept on the double bed downstairs. Francis is also a bit skittish with me, although not as much as Violet. As is the third cat, Rhody, a sleek, shiny black-haired energetic kitty who is, among the three of them, the more courageous and adventuresome cat.
One day, when I walked into their bedroom, they all scattered. As I wondered how to make the cats less afraid of me, I remembered the lure of my Bi-mart “fuzzy” blankets, essentially small throws that had the feel of plush, soft velour. All the cats and dogs I had previously taken care of had loved these fuzzy blankets. Fuzzies were like catnip. When I arrived at each home I pulled out the fuzzy, folded it into a small rectangular shape and threw it casually on the floor. The animals knew it was for them. They climbed on immediately, hunkered down and waited to see what was going to happen.
I decided to experiment with Violet and Francis, betting that the fuzzy would bring them comfort and a sense of safety with me. I folded it into quarters, laid it on the big double near the foot of the bed, and left the room. Violet and Francis had scattered while I was preparing the fuzzy. After two hours I went back to check on them. They were curled up together on the fuzzy, Francis’ head on Violet’s rump. Violet did not run and hide as usual when I walked into the room. I had the distinct feeling that I had walked in on something private. I murmured “Oh, excuse me,” turned around and left the room. After several days, I was able to gently pet Violet’s back when she was curled up on the fuzzy blanket with Francis, but not for long. She’d get up to run and hide after one or two pets along her back. After eight weeks, I never did get to pick her up. She was too skittish.
At night, however, the shy and fearful Violet came alive! She and Francis chased each other around the house, creating havoc. From downstairs where I slept, I could hear their thunderous paws as they raced across the hardwood floors upstairs. In the morning, all the light-weight Oriental rugs would be askew as if the cats had suddenly put on the brakes when running, knowing they would slide across the floor on their magic carpets. I always found several cabinets and drawers had been opened during the night. It was an odd thing that happened whenever I was asleep or on errands in town. I distinctly remember closing them during the day. Eventually, I learned that Francis was the poltergeist. He enjoyed opening drawers and doors and Violet loved exploring the dark spaces where she frequently got shut inside during her explorations.
Francis, very protective of Violet, would not let the dogs near her, especially Trina, the hyperactive little King Charles Cocker Spaniel or Rhody. If Rhody cat slept on the bed or sofa, you’d find her far off in the corner, not curled up with Francis and Violet. I figured it was at the behest of Francis.
Francis was clearly the alpha cat in this family.
© 2010 Susan Canavarro All Rights Reserved. No copying or use of text or images without written permission from the author, Susan Canavarro.
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