As many of you know, I am feeding four feral cats. That number shifts up and down as new ones move in for the free groceries and others move out for whatever reason. Right now the number is four regulars, two red tabby cats and two solid black cats. All four are neutered and wear clipped ear tips to signal that. They live outside all year. They do have a place to go in bad weather, an old chicken coop I converted to a “cat house” complete with warm bedding and even a small space heater in cold weather.
The two tabby cats are from a litter their feral mother “gifted” me with back in 2006. There were originally six, but through attrition, we are down to four total. I have two and a neighbor down the street has two more from that same litter.
One of mine, a short hair I named “Sugar” because of her sweet personality, bonded with me before any of the others. She is a very intelligent cat, but she holds grudges.
Sugar and I have a ritual. When I put out the garbage at night, she waits for me, and as I walk back to the side door of my house, she follows and meows to me. She wants attention. I take a seat on the steps, and she hops in my lap for a scratching. She especially wants me to massage her ears. I surmised from this that she has ear mites and bought some eardrops at Jefferson Feed to treat her.
The directions called for treatment twice a day for five days. I laughed at that. There was no way she would allow that. I figured I might fool her twice at the most. I was right. The first night, I slipped the small squeeze bottle in my pocket, and Sugar and I did our ritual dance. She hopped in my lap, and I whispered sweet nothings in her ear as I scratched her and eventually moved to massage her right ear. With my free hand, I reached down and retrieved the bottle of ear mite drops, and without her seeing it, I eased it up and squirted some in her ear.
There was a brief moment of confusion where she must have been thinking “What the…?” before she bolted like she was shot out of a cannon.
The next night, I was hoping she has not yet associated that “unpleasant experience” with me. She hadn’t. She was waiting for me, as usual, and hopped up in my lap. I stroked her and whispered sweet nothings again as I eased up to her ear and massaged it. Once more, with my free hand, I reached for the bottle of ear mite med and gave her a squirt. This time there was no “what the…” moment. Gone!
I figured that was the end of the treatments at least until I could win her confidence again. My plan was to do our little evening meet-ups for a few nights but not administer any meds, and maybe—just maybe she would forget about it, and I could sneak in at least one more dose.
As usual, she came to me the next night, but the second I touched her ear, she decamped post haste.
It rained for the next two nights, and Sugar didn’t show. I wrote that off to the weather. On the third night, it was a nice clear evening, and she was waiting for me. Our little ritual went exactly as it always had, and she followed me over to the steps and waited for me to take a seat. But this time, she stayed out of my reach and took a seat about four away and glared at me. Yes, she glared at me. She had the distinct expression on her face that said, “You won’t fool me again.” No amount of cooing and coaxing could make her change her mind. She remained seated and glaring at me.
Then she did something I was not expecting: She stood, turned around, and sat down again with her back to me! The ultimate cat insult.
Cats hold grudges. And Sugar still isn’t speaking to me.