One of the problems with having a cat and not knowing enough people here locally who are willing to cat-sit is that we generally end up taking Inkwell with us when we go over the mountains for an event like Emerald City Comicon. My folks are very tolerant about having a cat wandering the house I grew up in for the weekend, and good about feeding him, so it's usually not much of a problem.
Inkwell himself seems to have gotten ok with the idea of traveling across the state in his box, especially since I figured out that covering it helped him stay calm. And so the trip to Seattle for Emerald City Comicon on Friday evening was nearly entirely uneventful until we got over the pass and decided we needed to stop for dinner.
I generally don't try to feed Inkwell in the car because he's so stressed, but he was really calm and relaxed, so I gave him his kibble while Eric and I chowed down on soft tacos in North Bend.
We had maybe a half hour to 45 minutes left to my folks place, and after our meal we got back on the road. Inkwell, who had been quiet for almost the entire trip, started to meow. We reassured him we'd be stopping soon, but he continued to meow, then his meows took on a deeper, more desperate tone. I reached back and put my fingers into the carrier, and he sniffed them and meowed some more. Then he started his deep "LIFE REALLY SUCKS!" meows that sound like howls... and suddenly stopped.
I put my fingers back in the carrier, and he was right in front of the door. Just crouched up against it, which he doesn't do while in the car because that means he's on the "uphill" side of the carrier (which we belt into the back seat behind the driver). I pet him a little, and he batted at my fingers, so I figured he was ok.
When we got to my folks place, the first thing we always do is bring in the carrier and let him out. Well, he was out of the carrier like a little furry rocket when I opened the door. Usually he's a little cautious. I reached into the carrier to grab his food dish and touched the towel and pad he rests on... they were damp...
I'd forgotten a very important thing about Inkwell's eating habits. After he finishes his dinner, without fail, he goes to the litter box to pee. Every time. Just as soon as he finishes his last meal of the day, it's litter box time. And I'd given him his last meal of the day while he had no access to a litter box.
I pulled out his padding and my mother washed it while we were at the convention. Inkwell, in the meantime, loves my parents house because it's a large house with lots of great places to hide (many years of accumulation, including lots of fabric because my mom is a quilter). So he vanished into the house, only appearing for skritches, meals, and to use his litter box.
Eric and I went to the convention, about which I'll write more soon. Sunday afternoon, Eric's Oz panel was our last event of the day, then we headed back to my parents house to pick up Inkwell and go. We'd packed up on Sunday morning as much as possible, and gotten the carrier ready. Inkwell is not stupid, and he recognized that he was going back in the carrier when Eric and I got back.
So he hid.
Boy did he hide.
He totally won at hide-and-seek.
Four adults searching for more than 30 minutes could not find him. We considered leaving him behind and letting my parents bring him home later in the week, but I didn't want to mess up their schedules. Eric and I both had work Monday morning, so we were getting increasingly desperate to find the little fuzzball. I tried to lure him out with treats, with more kibble, with stern commands. Nope. He was well-hidden.
As my mother and I were discussing whether or not he might have managed to get himself into a blocked-off windowsill, my dad exclaimed, "There he is!" and I rushed over. His face was peeking out of a shelf. He tried to duck, but I grabbed him and started a tug-of-cat to get him out. He was extremely well secured though, and started to growl at me. I was startled and let him go, and he vanished back into the dark.
I started removing items and discovered two bookshelves, one in front of the other. The one in back had a gap on a shelf where a hanging quilt was stored. The shelf in front was nearly completely full, just with a tiny gap, so it was impossible to see the hiding place. Inkwell was crouched on the hanging quilt, with no exit. It was an excellent hiding place, and one he'd apparently discovered and used for the entire weekend. My mom had been moving items in front of the shelves to see if she could find him, never realizing he was right there. He had apparently poked his head out when he thought the humans were gone to see what mom had moved, and my very quiet father had spotted him.
Well, Inkwell knew the jig was up, but wasn't going to go quietly to his
doom carrier box. No, he crouched as far from me as he could manage and growled. I suddenly realized I could pull out the quilt he was on, which I did, much to his dismay. I grabbed him before he could jump back into the empty space and held the grumbling, struggling, shedding cat to me as I climbed back out of the storage area to the living room. He fought going into the carrier, but we got him in, then I had to clean copious amounts of cat hair off my arms and shirt.
We got out of Seattle a full hour later than we'd hoped to.
Inkwell was quietly seething the entire trip. Whenever we stopped and I checked on him he glared at me. He was also breathing heavily, back to his normal nervousness. I didn't try to feed him on the road.
When we finally got home and let him out, he seemed remarkably surprised and recovered very quickly. Eric fed him, we dragged stuff out of the car, and both fell into bed, exhausted. Inkwell was very skittish Monday morning when I pulled the pads out of his carrier to air them out, but otherwise got used to being home quickly. It was a pretty short trip over the mountains, and he's clearly hoping we won't take him anywhere any time soon.
Tuesday, April 12, 2016