I Am Not A Cat Lady: The Arrival.
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I Am Not A Cat Lady: The Arrival.

A few weeks after I agreed to become a long-term cat-sitter, my sister moved Henry, Albie, and all of their accoutrements into my apartment. I quickly went from enjoying my solo existence to sharing a space with two new four-legged roommates, a litter box, and a five-foot-tall cat tree.

The actual arrival of the cats was a lot less dramatic than I expected it to be: my sister transported the boys from their cages directly into the litter box–“Now they’ll remember where it is!”–and then instructed me to let them explore their new home at their own pace. Albie immediately began moseying around and sniffing everything in sight; Henry, in a move that resembled my behavior during freshman orientation weekend at college, bolted under the bed and hid there for the next seven hours.

While that exploration (or lack thereof) took place and my new roommates’ realness began to sink in, I peppered my sister with a series of cat care questions. The full interrogation lasted long enough for Henry to start cautiously peeking out from under the bed, but the items below struck me as the most important (and struck my sister as the most hilarious):

  • “Will they die if they eat chocolate?” Before the cat nephews arrived, I knew one thing about dogs–don’t give them chocolate–and zero things about cats. I was pleased to learn that my dog knowledge was transferable when my sister confirmed that giving Henry and Albie chocolate was, in fact, a bad idea. Score one for the pet novice.
  • “What’s the deal with litter boxes?” Okay, I know what litter boxes are for–but I still forced my sister to walk me through the emptying process, the frequency at which new litter should be added, and the exact brand and variety of litter that I was expected to buy. One detail that she conveniently left out: the amount of waste that these ten-pound cats were capable of producing. It both impressed and disgusted me.
  • “Do you see anything in my apartment that’s at risk of being destroyed?” To be fair, my sibling was mostly correct when she claimed that my belongings would be safe in the presence of cats: upon their arrival, no iPhone chargers were chewed, picture frames were sniffed but generally left standing, and the breakable items that I had moved to the top of my bookshelf were safely out of reach. However, Albie immediately discovered that the screen covering my large window was actually a wonderful, climbable wall. Ugh.
  • “How can I train them to sleep on the couch instead of my bed and/or face?” My bizarre sister actually loved having the little beasts curl up in her bed, so she didn’t consider this to be a serious question like I did. She left me with a small spray bottle and suggested that I spritz the cats with a bit of water that if they hopped into my bed. Although I was happily left alone for most of that first night, the spray bottle proved to be most unhelpful on subsequent nights as the cats got comfortable with their new home and with testing my patience.

By the end of their first day in my apartment, Albie seemed pretty content with his new abode, and Henry emerged from under my bed to finally scout out the space–when I sprawled on my couch to watch tv, he even curled up for a short nap by my feet. I may have even let out an accidental “Awww!” It was an unexpectedly cute way to cap off the cat nephews’ arrival…and a wonderful misdirect for how the rest of that week would go.

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