The creature inside my couch


The tale of Tangerine entered a new phase last week. Before I left for my road trip last weekend, Miss Tangerine was living in my office. Her wounds had healed, but because of my concerns about her safety outdoors I was reluctant to release her. My plan was to slowly integrate her into the household by letting the other critters come in and check her out in the office while I was home, which would also give me more time to bond with her. That was the plan. While I was gone, the boyfriend (bless his heart) forgot about my well laid plans, and left the office door open while he was gone. When he came back later that day, Tangerine was no longer in the office.

For the rest of the weekend, Tangerine never made her appearance known to the boyfriend, despite his best efforts in locating her. His best theory was that my landlord had come in and let her out. Riiiiiiight. Since I had been through this before with her during my previous failed attempt to keep her indoors, I figured she’d come out of her hiding place right around bedtime.

At 11:30 pm, right on the dot, I hear a rustling inside my couch. Then a pair of orange paws emerge from underneath the couch. Then an orange head. And finally her body squirms out. Yes indeedy, I now have a feral cat living inside of my couch. How do I know she’s inside the couch, and not merely under the couch? Because when we looked under the couch there was no feral cat, but we noted that the fabric on the underside of the couch was torn, making an easy entrance to the inner couch frame.

Once she is free from her couch lair, Tangerine wanders around the house rather sweetly, looking about curiously then skittering off to another room. Like everyone who meets Alaska, she has a major crush on him and seeks him out. She makes that flirtatious prrroww noise and seductively rubs up the closest piece of furniture when she seems him. He’s not buyin’ it. He still sees her as an intruder and her very presence in the house is making him an anxious mess. I guess he doesn’t remember how they used to cuddle together last year around this time. She sure does though.

On Saturday I woke up to find all four creatures gathered in my bedroom, each asking in their own way for my attention. Even Tangerine shyly approached and let me pet her until Mr. Binkles got jealous and charged her. Once she has out of the way, he placed himself in the petting zone right next to the bed. It was a lovely way to wake up.

Unfortunately, Alaska is not adjusting well to the new house guest. He had accepted Mr. Binkles fairly gracefully, but Tangerine is sending him over the edge. He’s having more bladder symptoms that are stress-related. He’s sick because he is stressed, and he’s getting stressed because he’s sick. I’m having a hard time breaking the cycle with him. And frankly, I’m starting to find his neediness, his constant pacing, and the small puddles of urine everywhere really, really annoying. I feel guilty that I’m feeling a lot of anger and resentment towards him when he disturbs my sleep, or my attempts to relax. My vet tells me there is nothing he can do. We’ve tested for infection and there is none. He says these things are usually stress related. I’m dosing his water with Rescue Remedy and I’ve sprayed Feliway all over his sleeping areas. The only thing I haven’t done is throw Tangerine out of the house.

I hope it doesn’t come to that.


8 responses »

  1. I like your tag “furry bodhisattvas”. I’m convinced the kitties taking up residence in my house are there to teach me lessons on patience, understanding, restraint and that we all have our own “thing” we do.

    I as a human may not like that my kitties get into the little room I call my sacred space but I’m learning that any cat would be unable to keep itself away from that spot. That’s what cats do.

    I mean, it’s got a big window where they can see their feral brothers and sisters in the backyard. The sun comes in real nice where they can lay on the window ledge and soak it up. And my zen rock garden has a great set of round polished toys mess with.

    Despite my great desire to choke the hell out of them… these furry bodhisattvas are teaching me restraint. πŸ™‚

  2. I can only comiserate with you on the woes of running an Animal House and the cost of this business. They tend to simply take over the house and all of our daily activities seem to revolve around them.

    Such is the life we have chosen to lead.

  3. First an update: Alaska is doing better. Not sure how he’s feeling about Tangerine constantly tailing him (mispelling intended), but he didn’t have any bladder symptoms yesterday and he ate like a horse (which always makes me happy because he is underweight). Me, on the other hand, I went down for the count yesterday with what I thought was the flu – fever, chills, nausea. So far today, so good. No fever, no nausea and he hasn’t moved into my head or chest. Let’s hope this is as far as it goes.

    Jules – Yes, they really are excellent little teachers these furry ones. Oh, and your sacred space sounds really lovely.

    Adam – I’ve been keeping up with your animal trials too. How’s Ubu? They do have a way of taking over the house, life and wallet, but I can’t imagine my life without them. Ya know?

  4. This sounds a little whacky, but there is something referred to as “Kitty Valium” (that is not the medical name, which of course I forget). A friend had given me some of her kitty’s way back when I had 2 boy kitties of similar age not working out well with each other, and it acted to make them ‘forget’ they didn’t know/ didn’t like each other. Have used it again, and it really helps. Sorry I can’t remember the real name! It’s not needed long-term, just long enough to effect destressing.

  5. It sounds like a very lovely way to wake up. πŸ™‚

    Just read your update. I’m glad to hear Alaska is doing better. Perhaps that means Tangerine will be able to stay inside.

  6. Shu – I’ve never heard of kitty valium. I’ve been using a spray called Feliway, which is supposed to be some kind of hormone that makes them calmer, and a homeopathic remedy called Rescue Remedy. Hard to say how effective they really are. Frankly, at one point I simply resorted to an opioid pain killer that was prescribed for another cat’s arthritis. Let me know if you find out the name of the kitty valium. Does it work on humans? πŸ˜‰

    Robin – Yes, it was. Some of my happiness times are the simplest as when I’m surrounded by well-behaved, loving furry creatures. And yes, at this point, Tangerine is not going anywhere. She’s coming out during the day and evening, and has moved her lair from under the couch to under the bed. Last night she and Alaska even did a little friendly head bump, so things are improving. She so desperately wants to be his friend, I hope it works out.

  7. Ha, your kitty in the couch cracks me up.

    Jerzy Kozinski, the writer, was fairly small and I’ve read that he used to hide himself in an overstuffed couch, wait for guests to arrive, and then move around under the cushions to startle them.

    It explains something of the perspective behind “The Painted Bird.”

    Oddly, we just saw Kozinski in the Warren Beatty/Diane Keaton movie, “Reds.” He plays an early revolutionary bureaucrat with pitiless perfection.

    I hope your cats have more kindness, and tolerance. πŸ˜‰

  8. Dang, either that must have been a really big overstuffed couch, or Jerzy Kozinski is even smaller than he appears on film or his book covers. That’s hysterical though.

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