Moving back in with my mother, and bringing my pet cat along with me, I had stars in my eyes and hopes that the cats would get along. Most have told me that older cats don’t really put too much energy into territoriality the way the younger ones do, and so I was hoping I could just ease Vincent in with the family and everything would be hunky-dory.
As you can imagine, this certainly was not the case. On the first day back home, while my cat was getting her bearings and surveying – with a very skeptical eye – her new surroundings, the family cat came sauntering into the room, apparently ate from her bowl while I was not looking, and then – upon discovering there was a second, unknown feline in the house – sprinted toward Vincent.
This did not end well. Namely for me.
The result of this first pleasant exchange was a confused and irate family cat, a traumatized, cowering Vincent, and one bitten me. Now, I had watched enough YouTube and read enough cat articles to know that introducing a cat to anything new takes time, especially after having uprooted them from an environment she was familiar with. How would I like it if I suddenly found myself on an alien land with benevolent but ultimately clueless aliens, and the only other human in sight came up and punched me in the face?
I’d be rather put out, let me tell you.
So, after immediately scurrying the older cat into his room, I promptly laid down on the floor, face toward the crack beneath the sofa, and began pleading and apologizing to my Vincent. I’d like to think she understood what I was saying, because after only four hours of me alternating between apologizing, leaving well enough alone, and trying to bribe her with food in a newly washed (free of other cat smell) bowl, she finally came out from behind the couch.
Hey, surprise surprise, she even let me pet her after hissing at me only an hour or so before. Progress!
“What does this have to do with pipe dreams?” you might be saying to yourself. “It seems to me she’s just taken this time to unload her stress on us,” you might add. And I would say nay, you are wrong. There is a point (even though tangentially yeah maybe you are right).
A pipe dream, as I have learned via cat bite, is a dream that while desirable and probably admirable if ever attained, has no real basis in reality. I speak of course, of the “easy” move. It certainly doesn’t exist. And moving with a pet . . . Vincent was terrified the entire hour and a half drive to our new home, and only ceased her meowing when my fingers were either beneath her chin or she had tucked her snout beneath them.
Only on day two, and we have made progress. She is eating and drinking water, and even using her litter box before returning to her spot in the shadowy fringe of my closet. The physical move could have been rockier for both of us, to be sure. But now, stars wiped from my gaze, and the reality of a slightly-less-than-petrified cat alternating between ignoring me and begging me for attention has set in.
The pipe dream of the pleasant move and easy new pet introduction is a bubble burst. Wakefulness, I take thee one slow, trying day at a time. The move, it seems, has just begun.