pater familias

One big furry familia

Since Saturday, Ashley and I have been staying in a room at her parents’ house.

Wait. Strike that.

Since Saturday, Ashley and ten cats and I have been staying in a room at her parents’ house.

Still not quite right. One more time.

Since Saturday, Ashley and I have been living at her parent’s house while the ten cats have been staying in a room there.

That’s better.

Because the cats didn’t want to leave the room. They’re scared of all kinds of things: the little crippled dog, the kid, the littler more-crippled dog,(1) the nice cat, the mean cat, the cat no one ever sees. Piles of clothing. Towels. Toys.

They’re in a new place, so even familiar things are frightening to them. In the first 24 hours that we were there, none of the cats ate a single bite of food. And that includes Tolkien, whose raison d’être is being the first cat to the bowl. Every bowl. Every time.

Ashley is cuddling. Tolkien's keeping an eye on the food dish.

Ashley is cuddling. Tolkien’s keeping an eye on the food dish.

It turned out though that there was one thing that made them feel better: me. From Gaz and Randal this wasn’t surprising. Randal’s lived with me for six years now and Gaz is more like an appendage sometimes than another cat. But even GIR, who more than the others favors Ashley rather than me, was constantly all up in my grill wanting some love.

It wasn’t surprising that the kittens were all over me. Not only am I the only real dad they’ve known, but once their mom gave up on the whole mom-gig, I stepped into that role too. So I expected to be a source of comfort. What I didn’t expect was that after the first day or so all ten cats would still refuse to leave that one room. Oh there’ve been a few instances: Randal scouted the place out looking for good windows to sit in, and Sundae, the kittens’ mom,(2) generally gives zero fucks what everyone else is doing anyway. But mostly they just stay in the room.

Which gets old. It’s a nice-sized bedroom…for two people. Add ten cats and, well, it gets tiny. And stuffy. And there’s litter all over the place.

So I decided to induce the cats into coming out of the room. It was something like this

Except instead of cute little girls, picture cats. Instead of them singing happily, picture them slinking skittishly. And instead them being lead with a string, picture me laying out cat treats.

It worked, somewhat. They’ll go to the end of the hall now, which grants them access to a litter box that’s outside of the room. This morning a few of them were considering coming into the living room…but not quite. If they were hesitating because that’s just what cats do, I wouldn’t care. But I don’t want them to spend the next few months in fear.(3)

So I’ll do what it takes, as pater familias, to get them exploring the rest of the house. And then do it all over again when we move in August. Because, you know…cats.


  1. Her parents have a habit of collecting animals who seem to require more help and more work to love than the standard – hey…wait a minute…
  2. If it feels like there are more cats to keep track of than characters in Game of Thrones, that’s about how it feels for us every damn day.
  3. Well, in fear of anything other than me. They should still probably fear me, especially when they jump on the Xbox.
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