Today’s guest post comes from our good friend Ben Herman and his cat Squeaky:
Squeaky the Stressed-Out cat
Our cat Squeaky is definitely one of a kind. I’ve blogged about Squeaky before. Michele and I took her in when her previous human abruptly decided that he had too many cats. Since Squeaky wasn’t getting along with the others he wanted to drop her off at a shelter. That probably would have literally been the death of her. Squeaky is extremely shy and sensitive, plus she had health problems at the time, so she would probably have been put to sleep.
Michele told me that in her former home all the other cats beat Squeaky up whenever she tried to come out to eat, and so she was often hiding behind a radiator. She was even too scared to use the litter box, and so she scratched out a hole in the back of a sofa and used that instead. In the five and a half years since we adopted Squeaky she has definitely come out of her shell, though. She was incredibly frightened when we took her in, but now she is more at ease. She was incredibly skinny and unhealthy, but now she is round and healthy. Squeaky seems happy.
That said, she is a quirky cat. Even after being with us for all this time she is still very jittery. Loud noises cause her to run & hide, her tail completely fluffed up. Squeaky still doesn’t like tall men standing near her. I am 6 feet 2 inches, and when she sees me walking towards her she runs away. She has no problem with me when I am sitting down or lying in bed. Actually she is very affectionate at these times, and she loves for me to pet her or brush her fur. But the instant I stand up she bolts. Michele believes that Squeaky is still traumatized from whatever craziness went on where she used to live. I think that there must have been a lot of noise & chaos there.
Squeaky sometimes reminds me of the cat Mooch from the comic strip Mutts by Patrick McDonnell. Like Mooch, Squeaky is a rather idiosyncratic cat who loves to eat. Reading the strip in the newspaper often brings to mind our own black & white kitty cat. That’s especially the case when McDonnell does a strip about Mooch’s love of food.
It must have been because she was starving for all of those years before we adopted her, but Squeaky is obsessed with food. We normally feed her at 7:00 in the morning. Well, starting around 5:00 AM she starts meowing incessantly. She’ll jump on the bed and scratch up the furniture. She wants food immediately, and she doesn’t want to wait. When we finally open a can of wet food and feed her, she dives right in. Nettie also eats at this time, but she likes to pace herself. She’s a small cat, and has a tiny tummy. So she’ll have several bites and walk away for a while. Unfortunately Squeaky will then try to eat out of Nettie’s bowl, and we have to put it on top of the refrigerator until Nettie is ready to eat again.
Around 10:00 AM Squeaky starts meowing for dry food. We’ll usually give her and Nettie some an hour later. She’ll devour that right away. Dinner time for the cats, when they get the rest of the canned food, is at 3:00 PM. Well, come 1:00 in the afternoon Squeaky will start meowing sadly, pretty much non-stop, circling about in a worried manner. She really seems to be convinced she isn’t going to get fed.
Of course, every time Michele and I have something to eat, Squeaky must inspect it to see if it’s something she would like. If it is, she’ll either give us a wide-eyed pleading expression, or she’ll simply try to snatch some of our food with her paw or mouth. She is incredibly persistent.
This all inspired Michele to draw a cute, funny illustration entitled “Squeaky Loves To Eat.”
Poor Squeaky. She can get very stressed out sometimes. This just goes to show that animals can be very much like people. If an animal experiences trauma when it is young, that can affect them for the rest of their life. I definitely think that happened to Squeaky. She still appears to be coping with some of the stuff she went though before we adopted her. She seems like a very sensitive soul.
Sometimes I will explain Squeaky’s story to people as a cautionary tale, to demonstrate that it is very important for us humans to treat our four-legged friends with kindness.
Having said all this, I do believe Squeaky is now much happier. She has food and two humans who love her. She eventually got used to Nettie trying to play with her, and the two cats are now close. Squeaky also gets to play, something she never could in the past. Occasionally she will play-fight with her toy mousies. But much more often she will grab one of Michele’s pencils, pens or markers in her teeth, carry it off while yowling, and then wrestle with it, chasing it about the apartment as it rolls all over the place. A good chunk of Michele’s art supplies go missing in this manner. We often find pens under the bed, or buried in the blankets, or hidden under the rug, or in the laundry pile.
I am glad that Michele and I were able to give Squeaky a much better home than she once had. She is a very affectionate cat. Despite her sometimes-unconventional behavior, she really does brighten up our lives.
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