Making adjustments

Bob has gotten a little better about attacking humans (i.e., me) since I added the bouncy-wire toy. He really loves that, and it gives him good exercise. The problem is that it pretty much requires a human hand (mine) at the other end to make it do stuff it won’t do if the human end is just tucked into a dresser drawer. Bob learned quickly that the drawer arrangement wasn’t challenging enough for him—the challenge requires human participation. Me again.

I love Bob a lot, but my life has a few other claims on it than cat entertainment, and this poses a difficulty. Not only am I not around a lot during the day (isn’t that why we animal companion lovers chose cats, because they sleep while we’re at work, and that works out nicely?). When I am here I usually have other obligations, like paying the bills; I’m not talented enough to think clearly, type at the keyboard and play with Bob all at the same time. Even if I could, he wants my full attention, not just a body part waving the metal wire wand.

Bob doesn’t care. It’s all about Bob for him, and he can’t fathom why that’s not so for me.

He knows when I’m packing for a trip (even for one little overnight), and he hates it. The whole time I’m gone I think he inflates his abandonment issues, for which I pay when I return. Alas, what to do.

Another toy, perhaps. Back to the local Feed Barn and down the cat toy aisle. I’m looking for a specific toy, one that I’ve seen in nearly every cat owner’s home. It is some version of a circular tube, with cat-paw-sized slots cut around the side and top. Inside the tube there is a plastic ball. Cats love this toy. They try to capture that ball, which of course doesn’t work but does make the ball zoom around the tube, which is fascinating to a cat. Those are hours spent alone, because this toy needs no human intervention to make it work.

Like other cats, Bob likes this toy. He doesn’t play with anything for hours though, and if I’m not paying rapt attention to his capture-the-ball effort, he loses interest quickly. (He also seems to be a little uncoordinated about connecting paw to slot, but that’s material for another blog.)

Attacking me produces much better results by way of attention, so I am still his toy of choice. I know that humans prefer negative attention to no attention, so I suppose it’s a similar dynamic with cats. I’ve tried fussing over him every time I come back here, snuggling him on my shoulder, which he loves, giving him my full attention for a good ten minutes or so. He may like this a lot, but it’s not solving the problem. And now my little office/bedroom is beginning to look like a preschool, with toys littering the floor.

I think Bob and I are still trying to figure each other out. He is definitely trying to tell me something, sometimes with his teeth, sometimes with claws, and sometimes with an eerie howl. I’m pretty sure he’s not in any pain (though that howl at times sounds otherwise), but I think he’s frustrated with my slowness.

When there appears to be no way through a conflict, maybe it’s best just to scootch over and make a little room for your neighbor. Sometimes all it takes is a little movement to produce a breakthrough.

So we’re working on it. We’re making adjustments. I’m getting used to tripping over a big blue tube and yellow ball, a scratching board and a twangy arc of wire hanging out of my sock drawer.

Bob is … well, I hope he’s adjusting in his own way to living with a non-feline creature.


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