Barry Smith: Irrelativity
Aspen, CO, Colorado
(Note: The following is an excerpt from a 12-page memo intended for my neighbor.)
First of all, thanks for agreeing to take care of our cat while we go away for a week. If you’re getting this memo, it means that your references have checked out and your background check was clean. It’s so good to know that we have neighbors we can count on.
I feel like a bit of backstory is in order. Christina and I became cat owners when we moved here to Paonia a year and a half ago. As you might recall, the cat in question belonged to your previous neighbor. It lived outside year-round, ate cheap kibble from a bowl on top of the old fridge that was on the patio and was borderline feral. Which means a very low-maintenance situation – exactly what we were looking for in a pet.
See, neither of us have been pet owners since we were kids, and when you’re a non-pet person, the pet people of the world tend to look a little bit insane to you. Or, if not insane, at least tethered, which actually seems worse. Like when you’re hanging out with friends, and they suddenly announce, “Well, gotta get home and feed the dogs or they’ll eat the couch.” This always made us feel so thankful that we were free to roam, free to stay out as late as we wanted. We will never, we’d declare, become people whose lives revolve around some silly domesticated animal.
But then we moved here and got this cat and installed a cat door, and one thing led to another and, well … the point is that we leave on our trip tomorrow. Tomorrow! We’ve never left our cat alone for so long – and we’ve been agonizing over it for weeks. We even considered bringing the cat with us to New York. Cats love strange, new environments that are filled with loud noises and fast-moving objects, right? Exactly. So we’re trusting you to take care of our precious little kitty for us.
Should be pretty simple. Here’s all you need to do:
THE CAT: Her name is “Circle,” but she also answers to “Nuzzles McMeow-Meow,” “Kitten Kaboodle,” “Diddy Wah Kitty” and “Little Baby Kitten Pants.” I don’t mean “answers” in the traditional sense – like by coming to you or even looking at you – but she still clearly appreciates her numerous and ever-evolving nicknames. I usually make up six or seven new ones each day. You only need to come up with three or four.
CARE AND FEEDING: Alas, the heaping pile of kibble in the outdoor bowl is a distant memory. She’ll be needing a daily can of Seafood Medley Fancy Feast. Flaked, not chunked. She doesn’t eat the chunked. Well, she’ll eat it, but then she’ll puke it up. Not sure why. Anyway … TMI, right? She likes to eat in the morning, right after you’ve played with her using either the string (see Appendix VII – “Preferred String Playing Techniques” – attached) or the catnip-stuffed mouse (Appendix V – “Effective Mouse Manipulation to Increase Authenticity”).
She likes to have her head scratched, except when she doesn’t. She’ll let you know when she’s had enough by biting you. She also likes to be picked up in a cradling fashion, belly-up, and gently rocked. She’ll bite you when she’s ready to be put down. (Note: As I write this, I find myself asking, “Is it fair to ask my neighbor to come over and let my cat bite them?” But then I realize that the real question is, “Is it fair to make my cat go for a whole week without getting to bite someone?”)
A comprehensive list of afternoon and evening entertainment activities, including some helpful first-aid tips, is spelled out in Appendices VI through IX.
CONTACT INFO: I’m including (Appendix X) our contact information just in case there’s an emergency. You have our cell numbers already, but I’m also leaving you with my email, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Skype, LinkedIn, Myspace, AOL email from 1995 and CompuServe “handle” from 1987. My physical mailing address is also there, though I’m not sure how that would be useful. Still, just in case, right? I promise I won’t make you put the cat on the phone when I call to check in (she’d bite you), but if you could send me some photo and video progress reports a few times a day, that would be great. Nothing fancy.
Anyway, it should all go pretty smoothly. She’s a cat, after all, so ultimately she’s pretty low maintenance.
Thanks again, and we’ll see you in a week. Or perhaps sooner if it turns out that we can’t bear to be away from her for that long.
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