My cat, Cayden, affectionately "Cady," is a ten year old tabby cat mix who may be the friendliest cat I have ever encountered. He greets me at the door every day after work and he is the only creature on Earth who wants to be around me in the morning. He rests his paw on my arm while I sleep at night to wake me up and give me attention. And of course, to demand it too. He purrs so loudly when I get home that I really do feel special and important, which is really nice after a long day of work at the office. Having him around as a companion does make me feel good and loved.
Cady, who I adopted last July of 2011, was brought to a shelter by his owners of 9 years because when they relocated to a highly-trafficked area, he was unable to adjust to his new indoor life. He was allowed to go outside to a certain extent at his original home. His original owners loved him dearly but were not able to cope with the bad behaviors he developed and felt guilty that he was not enjoying his life there. This has been a challenge for me, as well. Not knowing about these issues at all (after another family adopted him from the shelter and were going to drop him off on the side of the road when he didn't fit in with their situation...dropped him off at the rescue barn where I volunteer,) I took him in when I moved into my first 2 bedroom apartment after graduating college and starting my first "real" job.
This furry feline has been one of the greatest gifts in my life, as well as one of the largest challenges. Cady is one of the most well-behaved cats I've known. He doesn't scratch, spray, have aggression toward humans or other animals. He eats well, cleans well. What is there to complain about? Why would two different owners surrender this adorable animal? I found out about a week after the adoption that Cady is not only destructive at night, but meows excessively to the point where I could go insane. If I shut him out of my bedroom door, he meows outside my door so intensely that he will make himself physically ill. My thought is that Cady cried to go outside once his original family moved, and the situation was unable to meet his needs. Now, he cries for attention in the middle of the night and it has become quite a problem in my own life. Surprisingly, Cady is extremely well behaved during the day time.
I have tried just about everything to calm this kitty down. I play with him 30 minutes before bed-time, feed him a larger meal as I am about to hit the sack, use Feliway Cat-Calming Pheromone Diffusers, Spray and Collars. I even walk him on a harness for at least 20 minutes a day after work and on weekends to give him outdoor stimulation. All of these things have helped a bit here and there, but his behaviors are very inconsistent. Some nights he will hop into bed with his token meow and sleep the night away until my alarm goes off. I appreciate nights like these like parents do when they have young children. Other nights, he runs around the apartment frantically looking for something-not that I know what that something is. He has 4 or 5 distinct meows. And man-he uses them all! And he is LOUD. Personally, I've never heard anything like it.
As I sit back and think about Cady's interesting and sometimes irritating night time behaviors, it is easy to forget that cats are nocturnal creatures by nature. But even beyond this, it is so easy to forget that within today's society, even the most dedicated of pet owners can sometimes forget that while they are at work interacting with people for 8 to 10 hours a day, the domesticated dog, cat, horse, ferret, guinea pig, etc. are at home waiting and anticipating their owner's return. According to my roommate, Cady sleeps most of the day away. When he greets me so readily and joyfully at 5 o'clock at night, he is anxious to go outside and to have people time.
Along with other pertinent animal issues, my blog will focus on my trials to be the best pet owner that I can be. I've always been an animal person-I don't return animals once they are in my life. You don't return children; you shouldn't return the animals who are also your family unless their lives in your home are not what they should be. I will willingly and desperately try to help Cady feel more satisfied with his daily life. And I will try my best to give good advice about being a responsible pet owner and an Animal Advocate...because we are their only voice.
In a society where you may not even have time to take care of yourself, it becomes even more difficult to set aside time for a pet. That bump in the night, or in some cases, the loud meow, might mean something that we all sometimes forget: we are our pets' life lines and we directly impact whether they will have an enriching life or not. It may be challenging, and sometimes exasperating to fix a problem relating to your pet, but it is worth figuring out. Because hey-when life gets you down, who is the one always there for you? Your pet.