Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Fear and Loathing

Maybe not so much with the loathing, but who knows, this is a cat we're talking about. We've lived in our current house for almost a year now and the cat has been upstairs twice. Once back when we first moved in and today. I think the main reason he doesn't venture up there is the baby gate. Yes he's a cat and could easily jump the gate but he won't unless necessary. Perhaps I should give you a little back story on the cat before continuing with today's incident.

I rescued Supercam from  a large laurel hedge outside the place where I worked at the time. Literally dragged him from a bush and took him home with me. I believe that he was a feral kitten, about 9 months old when I rescued him. I'm pretty sure he never lived in a home or had much positive contact with people and the world. A coworker and I spent the better part of a day trying to convince him to come out of the bush. Eventually he got tired and I was able to catch him and put him in a box, which as you can imagine, he loved. He has lived with us for over 10 years and seems to be in a constant state of alert. If it comes to fight or flight he's ready for action of the fleeing kind. He won't go in the living room while the kids are up, even if they are having a rare quiet time. Scott has always freaked him out so Supercam won't sit on the couch with him and pretty much avoids him whenever possible. We have never done anything to harm him, but he acts as though we are a major threat to his well being. When people come over he hides. Even if it's only someone knocking on the door.

Flashback to the first time he decided to check out the mysterious stairs. We had been in the house for a few days and Supercam pretty much stayed in his safe haven a.k.a. the laundry room. However that night after the kids had gone to bed and Scott was out finishing up repairs at our old house, I spotted Supercam slinking about the house. He was making his body as flat to the ground as he could while scurrying about the house, frantically looking about for danger. Well I guess he got upstairs and at this point I have no idea what he was thinking, but he started meowing like he was being tortured or trapped. I went up and he raced down the stairs back to the safety of the bottom drawer in a cupboard in the laundry room. Since then he has shown no interest in going up the stairs. It's as if that part of the house doesn't even exist. Until today.

I have been experimenting with leaving the gate to the upstairs open so that Alec can go up and down as he pleases. His bedroom as well as the playroom are up there, and now that he's better with the stairs I want him to be able to go up if he chooses to. Supercam happened to notice that the gate was open and he spent a few moments cautiously sniffing around. Then to my surprise he went up the stairs. He disappeared around the corner, but a few moments later I noticed that he was just checking out the landing. Then he was gone again. Keep in mind that the rest of us are all downstairs. As I'm sitting reading my book the cat starts mournfully meowing. I call him a few times thinking he will hear me and just come back down. For some reason the cat usually listens to me. However he was apparently too freaked to think rationally and just continued to howl at me. I went upstairs and he was just sitting at the top of the stairs completely panicked. I tried to encourage him to come down the stairs, but as that would mean going past me he was not going for it. I finally cornered him in my closet and was able to pick him up and bring him downstairs. Needless to say, I don't think he'll be going up there again any time soon.

The point of all this is I just can't figure out what exactly was so unsettling about the upstairs. Did he get up there and forget how to get down? Was it just so unfamiliar that he couldn't deal with it? Why does he not get that he's safe with us? I used to apologize for startling him, or let him know that I was just passing by and he didn't have to get up. Now I don't even worry about it anymore. He's freaked and obviously nothing I do is going to make him any less afraid. How stressful it must be to always be afraid. To constantly think that everyone and everything is out to hurt you every second of everyday. I guess I'm just glad that I'm not as fearful as my cat, and I will offer him my comfort whenever he is willing to accept it. Which is usually during nap or bed time. Those kids are just far to unpredictable.

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