Pumpkin kept going back in. Since last Friday, Pumpkin has spent anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour sitting or napping in the bag. I don't know if she spends time in it when I'm not home; I haven't become the person who sets up video cameras to see what her pet does when she's not home...yet. Sometimes she peeks her head out and watches me, either when I'm in the kitchen (directly across from where the bag is) or sitting on the couch. She occasionally lays down so I can only see the tops of her ears. On Thursday, she didn't go in the bag; she rubbed her face on it and sat next to it but didn't go in. My theory is she did this because I came home later than normal and she preferred snuggling with me on the couch than sitting by herself. However, she did get me up at 4:30 am by making the "I'm going to throw up in your shoes" gagging noise. She didn't actually throw up; when I got up to check on her she was laying in the bag. The move seemed to say "I just want you to know I do what I want and right now I want to live in this bag. I don't have to explain my life to you, Erin."
Which brings me to all the questions I have about this latest chapter in my life with Pumpkin. We've been a part of each others' lives for 15 years now. In that time we've lived in Honolulu, New Orleans, Alexandria (twice), Alameda, and Arlington. She's been in an airplane on multiple occasions and driven cross-country (not in a Toonces the cat sort of way). She's even evacuated form a hurricane like a freaking boss. She's undergone endoscopic surgery (she swallowed a needle and thread because cat's do stupid shit sometimes) and had to take kitty morphine once after having some teeth removed. Pumpkin has led a more interesting life than many humans. She's just that cool.
So what does the whole thing "I live in an Ikea bag" thing mean? Pet experts always tell pet owners that pets do odd things to tell you something; their food isn't right for them, they're not getting enough exercise or water or sleep, they're sick. Weird behavior can be a sign of trouble. Here's the things: cats are always weird. How is a cat "owner" supposed to know the difference between normal weird and weird weird? Cats have a very specific life philosophy that skirts the normal weird/weird weird line very closely:
- "If I fits, I sits."
- Nap for at least 18 hours a day, sometimes with your eyes open because you can and it creeps humans out.
- Sleep in ways that can only be described as cat yoga.
- Stare creepily at your human in the shower or bathroom not because they're planning anything bad but because you love your human as the intense staring proves.
- "All of your things belong to me, human. I will now rub my face on everything."
- Run around at odd hours of the night like something is chasing you. Look perfectly at ease.
- Hide when your human sneezes; she has offended your ancestors.
- Am I a bad pet mom? Have I not provided you with adequate napping and living space options?
- Did you pick up a love of modular, brightly colored Swedish furniture at some point in our journeys and the only way you know how to express that love since you can't go to the actual store is to spend time lounging in a reusable bag created by the same company?
- Are you still upset about moving? Are you trying to figure out your place in our new apartment?
- Have you secretly been harboring a desire to construct furniture with only an Allen wrench? Do you know what an Allen wrench is?
- Is the apartment too big? Our last apartment was on the small side and we lived there for awhile so I could understand if the space now is too much for you. Maybe the smallness of the Ikea bag is comforting.
- Do cats know how to interpret the instructions provided when humans buy Ikea furniture? Is this actually the cat plan to take over the world - reduce humans to sad, sniveling creatures curled in the fetal position because they can't construct a three shelf bookcase and then our cat overlords take over providing clearer instructions but only if we pledge our eternal devotion? Wait...I sort of already do that. When do I get clear Ikea instructions?
- Is it the crinkly-ness of the bag what makes it so appealing?
- Does it feel like you're hiding but also visible at the same time? You can see me but I can't see you? (I can see you because you're terrible at hiding in a very large, blue bag.)
- Did you want to give me a good story to tell people this week?
- Is this the cat version of an mid-life crisis? Is Pumpkin thinking: "I need change in my life but I like my toys and my food so I'll just add oddly cryptic behavior to my repertoire because I'm a cat and it's the only option I have"?
Next week: Dispatches from the #misfittoysroadtrip2017 all the way from Music City. We'll talk queens of country music and there might possibly be a new chapter from my novel.