Monday, March 15, 2010

Maybe some animals are born with an anxiety gene?

This weekend I did drop-in visits for a lovely couple. They also have two lovely kitties, they tell me, but I wonder if they're pulling my leg. At my visits, I only saw gregarious, playful, Cat Dancer-loving Gina. Amy, unfortunately, has a profound fear of strangers. She goes into hiding if anyone comes through the door who is NOT one of her "parents." Her favorite hiding place is behind the clothes dryer, where it's dark, there's little space, and it's difficult, if not next to impossible to see behind. A flashlight wasn't of much help since Amy was so obscured, so carefully hidden, that I wasn't sure whether I imagined seeing an ear! So there was Ms. Amy cowering, and she was NOT buying my gentle assurances that I LOVE kitties!

Then came the feeding challenge. Amy had a 45 minute window of opportunity to eat her food (actually,they both did) before it needed to be removed. Gina, who loves to eat, would eat Amy's food, too, if she could. That would be a problem since they required different foods.

Of course, Amy didn't know she only had 45 minutes to fill her belly. She seemed reluctant to even move a whisker, much less eat, while "the scary stranger" was in her house. I tried sitting as quietly as possible, while keeping one eye on Gina to make sure she wouldn't bolt behind the dryer and scarf up Amy's food. (Which meant I did wind up bolting after her several times when she thought I wasn't looking.)

Separating them into different rooms might have been ideal but my clients didn't want me to do that, and they had their reasons. So I walked away wondering if Amy had gotten anything to eat. If she hadn't, I suppose fasting for 35 hours wouldn't harm her. It left me thinking (not for the first time) that animals, like people, are probably born with genetic predispositions, which may or may not manifest depending on circumstances.

Of course, that does leave my clients with a dilemma, since Amy can't be left to "fast" more than a short weekend. Bye bye longer vacations. It's amazing the things that we will do for our pets, isn't it?

One day in the distant future, I may join the Peace Corps. (I've done quite a bit of solo traveling, and would like to live in a completely different culture.) Friends ask why I don't do it now. There's a one word answer: Porter. The furry, fluffy, complex cat I love. He's been bounced around, and like many adopted animals, his early history is unknown. So when I adopted him, I vowed to myself it would be for his lifetime. No "adoption disruption" for my boy! (A euphemism used in child welfare to describe the awful situation where an adopted child is "returned" and the adoption is severed.)

"Be here now." That's my now. Loving Porter,and loving the wonderful animals I care for. For now, that's as good as it gets.