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Daze of My Life: Comfort and Joy

Daze of My Life
Comfort and Joy

We've had the "Buff Boys," (sandy, beige, frothy white color; and brothers, too), a.k.a. Cappuccino and Biscuit, almost two years. We' "rescued" them from Castle Cat Rescue, a cat rescuer of devoted proportions when the boys were about 7 months old. We cat-cornered them home on a Saturday afternoon and upon entering their new home (ours), of course scattered every which way looking for someplace familiar. Finding only unfamiliar places (and no familiar scents), they eventually found refuge together, underneath a couch, which sits in the corner of our dining room. And for a couple of days at least, that's where they remained, despite our coaxing. Not wanting to stress them unnecessarily, that's exactly where we left them. We fed and watered them there and placed their litter box within site and smell as well.
Though we had - and still have - an adult golden retriever in the house (Bailey), his old age prevented him from climbing the two steps required to enter the dining room and interfere with the cat's evolving routine. Certainly the cats wouldn't have known that (and of course, there's no way we could have communicated it to them). But, we knew, so their placement in the dining room was strategically considered with every expectation that over time, after familiarity began to breed courage, the boys would venture out and away from their cozy confines and explore the rest of the house and begin to acclimate.
Within a week or so of observing the boys' movements, we moved their food from immediately in front of the couch to its current location, approximately 10 feet away, still in the dining room but in a more centralized feeding location and one still safely at paws' distance from Bailey. We also moved their litter box to its present semi-private, outside-of-the-dining-room location, carrying the cats in the process and placing them directly in the box so they would know its new permanent location and force them, quite frankly, to have to move throughout the house a little bit. It wasn't a seamless operation for the cats, but as you cat owners know, eventually they figured it out and here we all sit, literally, one big, happy, family; and often together in one room; Kenny, Dina, Bailey, Biscuit, Cappuccino and not to be forgotten, Chester, our rabbit.
As I sit at the dining room table and write, Biscuit is inconveniently lying across the very tablet on which I am attempting to write. "Cino" is curled up on one of the dining room chairs that sits at the head of this table at which I'm sitting and still attempting to write. Bailey, now nearly 14, is still spry when encouraged but content most of the other times to lay in his orthopedic bed on the floor in the adjacent living room or underneath the coffee table in the den sleeping. Chester is in his cage in the kitchen, asleep for the moment, stretched out on his aspen bedding, nose crinkling, ready to pounce at the slightest noise. And so it goes, everywhere I look, an animal, doing things that animals normally do.
Soon, it will be feeding time. The cats will meow, Bailey will pant and Chester will stand up on his hindquarters, front paws grabbing his cage pleading for a cracker. Bailey will be fed first, he's the senior man; next will be Chester because his food is stored between Bailey's and the cats', then the cats will be fed (last) because they're fed in another room (still in the dining room, for privacy sake). If we don't pay attention and watch who eats what, the animals will eat from one another's bowls: Chester will eat the dry cat food and the dry dog food, the cats will eat Bailey's dry dog food and drink from his water bowl, and Bailey will eat from the cat's litter box (if he can remember where it is) and miscellaneous other animal-related droppings he might find (from when the rabbit is out of his cage). After meals, everybody goes to sleep; Chester in his cage, Bailey and the two cats wherever they find comfort.
I was hesitant at first to introduce two kittens into the life of our semi-retired golden retriever, I didn't want them bothering him while he was trying to enjoy his golden years (no pun intended). But the cats seem to have figured out his tolerances and really don't interfere with his winding-down routine. Oh, they run underneath him when he comes back in the house, curl their tails under his jaw when he's walking, stick their noses in his food bowl when he's eating but generally, the animals coexist peacefully (most of the time).
Thanks to Biscuit and "Cino," there is new life and energy in our house, energy that we didn't know was missing. And as it has evolved, energy that was much needed and is very much appreciated. I realize I'm only discussing cats (and a dog and rabbit), but living with love and affection cannot be overvalued. And thanks to the "Buff Boys" our lives are whole again.

Kenneth B. Lourie is a regionally syndicated columnist who resides in Burtonsville, MD.

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