“One small cat changes coming home to an empty house to coming home.” ~Pam Brown
“When I play with my cat, who knows whether she is not amusing herself with me more than I with her.” ~Michel de Montaigne
“Curiosity killed the cat, but for a while I was a suspect.” ~Steven Wright
Today is the day that our furniture is finally “supposed” to arrive in Okinawa.
You see, we live here in Okinawa in the future…depending on where you are. Thus, the ship could actually be arriving tomorrow contingent on the time zone associated with its arrival date. But what’s one more day when we’ve had to wait an extra seven weeks (see Castaway for the full sad story on the contracted shipping company simply forgetting to ship our household goods). As of today it’s been exactly 16 weeks since the total of our “stuff” was packed up….
BUT, let’s assume the furniture IS arriving. Given that we may only have a week or so to wait for actual delivery (unloading, customs, movement, more government waste and inefficiency surely has to be expended), and since I’ve covered some of the more important of our possessions that we’ve been missing since packing out our home back in the first week in August (see Do Sweat the Small Stuff and Easy Chair), I felt it was high time to give the third member of our home a voice about the same. Of sorts. She’s a cat, you see. And she only speaks Spanish.
I got Cleo – short for Cleopatra (of course), and her brother Alex – short for Alexander the Great (of course), about six months after my former cat Sammy (the coolest cat on the planet) went missing in very early 2010. Alex and Cleo, siblings, were very dissimilar from the very start; Cleo much more demure, light on her feet, and with rather odd leopard-like markings; and Alex, a somewhat blundering lover-boy of a more typical gray short-haired tabby tomcat. Cleo has always been a smaller cat, and her size has allowed her the ability to jump extraordinarily high and better assume risks that most cats would instead take a nap over. She has always been a climber, and always has immediately looked for the highest place she could attain in any given situation, and when that perch is attained, she promptly awards herself with a safe, quiet, and undisturbed catnap.
What’s funny about this is that Alex has always tried to follow Cleo. You see, he’s not nearly as interested in climbing, or heights for that matter. As a fit and small kitten, Alex could climb and jump to the places his sister was able to easily navigate to, places that were usually not large and were rather isolated. And once there, Alex would simply be too damn big for both of them to be comfortable. And being more of a sumo wrestling build than his sleeker sister, as he got older (read: BIGGER), he eventually gave up climbing in the same way and to the same places, and Cleo assumed her highness as Queen of the Household, wherever that home may be.
There weren’t that many high places in my old condo in Pensacola (above), but there were plenty of high places for Cleo to explore and call her own in the house I shared with Jody there (below).
However, moving to Okinawa initially really shook up her entire world. It was bad enough she had to adjust to the loss of her brother in our lives; she literally became a different cat the very day he went missing. Not only did the hotel in Pensacola suck for her prior to our flights to Japan, the journey across the continental United States and the Pacific Ocean was unfortunately somewhat eventful for our wee feline friend. I mean if you count me almost killing her (see 9 Lives and Hard Travels)….
In our “pet-friendly” room upon arrival in Okinawa – which simply means that the room was only friendly to pets exactly because it reeked of dirty, wet dog – Cleo immediately found the high spots. But they weren’t very high, nor were they overly accessible…or apparently comfortable enough to nap. Being locked in those two tiny rooms day after day for an indoor-outdoor cat is bad enough, but not having the space to climb and the security of her high perches I’m sure no doubt contributed to her rising stress.
So, as we shopped around for a place to live here on the island, we always kept Cleo’s needs, and dare I say “wants” in mind. We fully intended to rent a home, where Cleo could explore these foreign and far eastern shores easily from our windows and doors. However, as we realized that what homes were left after the summer moving crush were much too expensive, too small, or poorly located, and as we shifted to looking at apartments and condos, we still looked at each location for what it could bring to and do for Cleo. And what it might take away. She’s family, after all.
Living on the 5th floor of condominium building is tough on a cat. There are a number of buildings all along the seawall here that look the same. Further, every floor of the buildings and the exterior of every condo on every floor all look exactly alike. So even though Cleo has these little windows in our place that we leave open where she can come and go as she pleases, no doubt she finds navigating the outside world quite daunting.
Especially daunting, it seems, are the stairs! Or more appropriately, the idea of multiple floors. As much of a climber as Cleo may be, she turns out to be vertically challenged!! For an animal that had a very extensive and detailed mental map of our neighborhood back in Pensacola, Cleo can’t seem to grasp the notion – or difference – between, say, the 3rd floor and our own! We often have to go remind her, after hearing her cries for help, that “…we live up here silly, not down there.” It seems her maps are one-dimensional only. I’m pretty sure she hasn’t ventured past the 3rd floor, even though there is absolutely nothing stopping her.
All this means that she really can’t – and doesn’t explore much here. She likes the balconies at the front of our place and side where she can watch the goings-on along the seawall. She most likes to hike down the breezeway and check out other peoples’ side balconies, where she’s been rescued more than a couple of times. Jody and I have always felt bad for her because of this, and since our condo has relatively low ceilings (eight feet or so), we knew we had to do something.
Thank goodness the Japanese have a robust love affair with their cats! A trip to Pet Box and roughly $200+ later, we’re home building what has become Cleo’s new home away from her home, her very own high-rise Catland Condo. In the little Spanish I do know, I heard her instantaneously correct our labels by quite clearly saying, “CASTILLO!!” There’s no point in arguing with her.
Cleo’s Castillo is truly her place, err, PALACE. Here again she has those high places to jump and climb to, but more so, the corner post perches all supply those high, relatively inaccessible places that make her feel so secure. She sleeps, err, rules from her perches most of the day after her breakfast and morning forays outside. She lounges, err, holds court up there (when not demanding from her servant Jody to drink from Jody’s bathroom sink) during the evenings when not playing or otherwise interacting with us, or the outdoors. She even has a $100,000 (basically the expense of renting our place over three years) view of the East China Sea and some truly magical sunsets from her cathedra….
There’s little doubt that every dollar spent on this giant cat toy is completely worth the cost; it is a small price we pay for the upheaval we have caused in Cleo’s life. And there’s even less doubt that Cleo appreciates this act of caring kindness, as every night after the lights are out and things have quieted down, she meanders into our bedroom, jumps up on the bed with a small meow, and chooses to sleep with us, her lowly subjects, in our low and lowly bed, quite removed from her highness.
- The Benefits of Having a Cat Condo (cattreecity.wordpress.com)
- Over The Door Cat Condo – high rise furry feline resort (redferret.net)
- Easy Chair (fareastfling.me)
- Handmade Outdoor Cat Enclosures (kendrashep45.wordpress.com)
- Sorry, It’s Taken (cuteoverload.com)
- Speaking Through Art: Deaf-initely Different Artists of Okinawa (fareastfling.me)