I underwent a radical lifestyle change recently.
I got a cat. That might not sound so radical for most of you, but I'm over 60 years old and have never had a pet., not even in childhood, except for a couple of turtles along the way, which isn't really the same thing as a dog or a cat. Longtime readers might remember I grew up in a Downs Syndrome household and having my BROTHER JIMMY around and having pets around just wasn't feasible.
My siblings all got pets and learned how to take care of them early in their adult lives, but I never did. And funny I should mention that because one of my sisters figures into the story. She had a friend in Texas who took in a stray who was absolutely wonderful except for one small detail: She could not get along with the other cats and showed no signs of ever adapting. To prevent the cat from going to a shelter, my sister thought, "Oh, my cats are very adaptable and they all didn't get along at first but then they learned. I will take the cat and my cats will change the new cat and they will all get along and everything will be great!" (I paraphrase.)
So the Vet said she needed to be an only cat. But pretty much the only person my sister knew who didn't already have a cat was yours truly. And given that the alternative was too terrible to contemplate, I took the cat. Meet Ruby:
Here she is, posing for a formal portrait. Turns out, the camera loves her, and she loves the camera. I took over 1,500 pictures the first month or so, and I'm over 4,000 by now, plus somewhere around 60 to 100 gigabytes of video (more on that later).
But all in all, everything went smoothly from the very beginning except for the part where I WAS IN CONSTANT STATE OF PANIC. I had no idea what I was doing, I was afraid I would hurt Ruby accidentally by stepping on her in my almost-tiny-house living space or not having the space set up for a cat or otherwise through ignorance. She got a little scratch under her eye and I freaked out:
Luckily, the Crazy Cat Ladies on Facebook, of which I am not one no matter what you say, told me not to worry, that cats get that stuff all the time and that it would heal quickly, which it did, but that I should just watch it to make sure it didn't get infected, which it didn't.
Not being able to translate her mews turned out to be very frustrating. I figured out "I'm hungry" pretty quick, although unfortunately I overfed her the first month and my sister's vet made me put her on a diet so I hear that particular mew a lot, and I figured out "RUB MAH BELLEH" after a few weeks, but the rest of it I still don't get.
And having her desperately always trying to escape hurt my self-esteem as well as freaking me out. I keep my outbox at doorknob level so if I have to bring something to school from home and absolutely cannot forget it, I can't. But whenever she hears my car pull into the driveway she uses the opportunity to jump up into the outbox to plot her escape:
And here she is actually attempting escape:
This is actually kinda scary.-
The vet's informed speculation is that she was originally a house cat, turned feral, turned back to house cat. She's extremely socialized to human contact.
Sadly, during her wild days she got in some kind of life-threatening scrap with some other critter and ended up with a broken vertebrae and a paralyzed tail, so the vet had to amputate it because a paralyzed tail is super dangerous:
But it doesn't seem to have affected her ability to run or jump very much. She's a little bit clumsy compared to other cats, I guess (you can see her struggle a bit in the middle of the following video) but she's obviously very smart and very brave. The vet says she'll be fine but that I should keep my eye out for her gait to make sure she hasn't re-injured the spine or that it hasn't deteriorated. This is the world premiere of "Ruby The Cat Jumps Way High":
And I mean WAY high
Yes, people, I'm now one of those people who post cat videos on Youtube. Does that make me a bad person? I was kinda worried about that myself, so I researched it and it turns out there's a genuine, authentic, for reals, PEER-REVIEWED ACADEMIC ARTICLE discussing the question.
At any rate, the aforementioned Crazy Cat Ladies suggested a catio or cat porch might reduce her cabin fever. So I shopped around and FOUND ONE from Trixie Pet Products that I liked. I modified it slightly so that she could go in and out on her own, then hired a guy to build a platform for it outside my bedroom window, then voilà:
I don't know if it's the change of seasons or if the porch worked, but she seems much less agitated now about being cooped up inside. Although her new friend (?) rival (?) enemy (?) might be a factor, too:
Appearances to the contrary, turns out Ruby isn't a demon after all (except to other cats; and to me sometimes at 5:15 am when she's hungry):
Although here she is haunting the UNCANNY VALLEY:
What a beautiful creature.