Sweeney and Lucy didn’t really get on very well. When Lucy died, we were very sad, but Sweeney wasn’t so upset. She was head cat now. OK, in a household of one cat, but still. She seemed much happier.
She continued to make occasional use of the doormat as a toilet, so we finally decided to block off the corridor that leads to the front door. The only way we could work out to do that also involved blocking off the spare room, but since that was just a room filled with stuff we really should have sorted out by now, it didn’t seem to matter too much.
After a while, we noticed that she was chasing her tail a lot more than usual. She always had done so occasionally, but now it was a regular hobby. That didn’t seem to be too much a problem – she was hopelessly bad at it, and never won. With practice, though, she got better, and after a while, she started winning. Against her own tail. That hurt. She startled us several times by suddenly howling in pain because she’d managed to catch her tail with teeth or claws.
We also realised that she was over-grooming – washing herself too much, and too often, and scratching to the point of extending her little bald patch (the result of a reaction to an injection when she was very young). She probably thought she was very clean, but actually she was just a bit covered in cat spit.
Google makes a pretty good vet these days, and it looked like there was a good chance that all the symptoms were of her being a bit mental. We always knew she was mental, but not really. It looked like the strange behavior was OCD, as a result of boredom.
Loss of… Well, not a friend as such, but at least a handy nemesis.
Loss of a room and corridor from her already limited territory.
Oh, and since moving to Devon, we’ve spent more time out, so less time at home playing with her.
We opened up her access to the spare room and doorway again, which seemed to help a little. She can sit at the back window, and watch the birds flying past.
More entertainment was called for.
We decided she needed a pet.
We ruled out a hamster in the end. It would be lots of fun for Sweeney, but maybe not quite as much fun for the hamster. I could tell this from the look on the girl’s face in the pet shop when we outlined the plan. So, we bought fish. Apparently, fish have no fear of cats. Either they’re a bit dim, or they really trust clear acrylic. Well, actually, so far, we have bought a fish tank. The tank needs to be set up for a week, and conditioned, before introducing the first fish to it, and then they should be introduced gradually, just one or two at a time.
Once all this was explained to me, there was a high temptation to pop the tank back on the shelf as being far too much like hard work, but I couldn’t quite bring myself to do that once I was holding a fish tank and discussing the best way of preparing it with the assistant. I figured maybe you’d just fill it from the tap, then chuck five or six fish in there. Sprinkle some flakes of food in there once every week or two, and the cat is entertained.
But no, it needs a stable surface, treated water, a permanently running filter, and careful introduction of fish to tank. Unfortunately, this meant we needed to start with somewhere very stable to put a fish tank, which we didn’t have. So, today has mainly been spent rearranging the living room to make space for the fish tank, which was a bit of a mammoth task. I’d have given up and taken the tank straight to a charity shop, but there’s a cat to be entertained here.
The rearrangement has a few more advantages, though – we now sit side-by-side again (Sam and I, that is, not Sweeney), rather than with our backs to each other. We can also see Sam’s monitor from the sofa, which makes it much easier to sit comfortably to watch TV shows we have downloaded. The printer isn’t sitting on the floor behind a desk any more, so we can actually reach it.
There’s an extra advantage for Sweeney now, too – she can now sit on a cushion on the back of the sofa, and see out of the living room window, so she gets a view from the front of the flat that she’s never had before.
Maybe all these things, along with a bit of a change, can help make life a bit more interesting for her again.
If not, it’ll be off to the Blue Cross to find a replacement for the role of Arch Nemesis.