Summer of Autumn
by Ben Douwsma
I’ve been fairly busy this summer: working a day job, starting to get a new collaborative project off the ground, and trying to take in as much of what my new hometown of Halifax has to offer as I can. I also finally made good on something I had intended to do for a while: get a cat.
This is Autumn.
Before I moved here, I had been going to the Miramichi SPCA to give the animals some extra attention, as well as help with cleaning the litter boxes. Autumn had been there for a little while: she was originally a feral, and the intention that she was going to be a barn cat. She took to humans better than expected, though, and was a mainstay of one of the cat rooms for over a year. After much cajoling from my sisters, I finally went ahead and gave her a home on July 1 of this year.
The transition was a little rough; she did not like being picked up and put into a carrier, although the 5-hour car ride from Miramichi to Halifax was surprisingly quiet. Once in my apartment, she tried to climb a set of precariously-hung curtains, knocked them down, fled in terror to the highest spot in my room (knocking some CDs down in the process). The noise traumatized her so much that she hid behind my bed for the longest time. Being used to spooked or temperamental cats, I decided to give her the space; I would still stay nearby, talk to her, and hope she used the litter, food and water I had set up close by. It was only after I had to clean up after an accident that we ended up bonding more.
I don’t know when she started to trust me, but I remember deciding to risk petting her, and to my surprise, she started to purr. Soon enough, she started to flop onto her back when I pet her, and eventually I brought a few of her toys to the back of the bed. She slowly started making her way out from her hidey-hole, slowly getting brave enough to explore my room. She took a while, but she goes on my bed regularly, and now has full run of my apartment.
I think we’re pretty well used to each other by now: I know she prefers fish-flavored food to chicken, and am aware that she will destroy any paper or cardboard that I’m sloppy enough to keep lying on the floor. She knows that despite her protests, I usually leave the apartment early in the morning and come home around dinner time. She also enforces a “bed time”; she’ll start meowing peevishly until I get off the computer or away from the TV and go to my room.
I sometimes get concerned about whether she misses having other cats around or if she gets upset by me not coming home immediately after work, but everyone who knew Autumn before I adopted her say she’s never looked happier. It’s nice to know that as soon as I open my door, she’s there to interrogate me about where the hell I’ve been.