Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Separation Anxiety

Can I Come Out And Play?

Every year for the last nine years, Carol and I have packed our camping gear onto the back of our dune buggy and driven up to Big Bear Lake, California for the annual Manx Dune Buggy Club rally that takes place on the second weekend in July. Last year, we held off getting serious about adopting a kitten until after that weekend. This year we had Quint. From the day we adopted him on August 2, 2008, we had never been away from home for a whole day and night, let alone a whole weekend. Questions went through our minds. How would he react to us being away for the weekend? Would he tear up the house while we were gone? Would he be okay all alone for most of the weekend? How would we feel about not having him around to play with and care for? Would he be mad at us for going away?

Lucky for us, we have a long-standing cat-sitting arrangement with our friend and neighbor, Stephanie. We take care of her cats when she travels and she takes care of ours on those rare occasions when we are away. I met with Stephanie a couple of days before we left and showed her which toys were Quint's current favorites and went over how much and how often we were feeding him. It's good to have someone who knows about cats as your cat-sitter. I didn't show Stephanie my tooth-brushing technique. I figured Quint would be okay with dirty teeth for a couple of days, and Stephanie would certainly be much happier with whole, unchewed fingers. When we hit the road on Friday morning, we felt like Quint would be well taken care of, but I still had my questions as to how he would react to our absence. I know it's absurd that I should worry this much about how my pet feels, but if I make a commitment to something or someone, I do feel honor bound to uphold it. In addition, we'd been having so much fun with Quint and getting such joy from the relationship, I didn't want to do anything to jeopardize it. Since, he had spent some of his early months abandoned, I was hoping he would not see this as something similar, but I just didn't know, thus I was a bit worried.

In spite of my misgivings about leaving, we left. We drove the car up to Big Bear and got settled into out camp. Later that evening, after a lovely dinner and a hilarious movie viewing, I took time out to call Stephanie. She had already been over to our house and fed Quint and spent some time playing with him. It seemed as though he was doing just fine. I was relieved, and so was Carol. We called Stephanie again on Saturday night just to make sure everything was still going well. It was. Quint was still doing fine. It seems that all my worrying was unnecessary.

When we arrived home on Sunday afternoon, there was Quint, acting normally and seemingly happy to see us. We exchanged hugs and greetings and he enjoyed sampling all the new scents on our shoes and clothes. In the evening we fell right back into our normal routine, none of us the worse for our brief separation. So, Quint still occupies his quintessential cat pedestal. It seems that the love and trust that we've invested in each other has paid off. I think he knows that, even if we are away briefly, we will always return and we will never abandon him.

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