A monument to catdaptation: 7-foot-tall cat post, first put in service December, 2003

*Catdaptation (verb): 1. Adapting your living environment to the needs, wants and desires of one or more cats 2. Adapting your life to the needs, wants and desires of one or more cats

Given our four resident cats, Bruce and I have become masters of catdaptation. I’ve always had a soft spot for cats and have had one, minimum, as a companion for most of my adult life (Dad was allergic, barring the possibility of childhood cats). Bruce, too, is allergic to cats, but when we entered each other’s lives almost two decades ago he had to make a choice: for me, cats are not negotiable. They’ve also become non-negotiable for Bruce over the years. In fact, he’s become an indulgent catdaptator.

Take, for example, our nominally feral feline friend Piebald. This outlaw came to us from a feral cat colony across Hart Road when we lived in Prescott, WA. Piebald is as tough as they come, a hunter through and through, whose abhorrence for the human touch (or what he imagines to be the human touch) is unwavering. However, he’s never been adverse to a free meal.

We feed the cats twice a day, morning and night. Through years of wooing Piebald, Bruce has added lunch to Piebald’s day, not to mention the occasional shower of dried shrimp, or, when we’re feeling flush, freeze-dried minnows. Bruce has also tried to persuade Piebald to repent his feral ways through private acapella concerts (“Send in the Clowns” is a favorite). No luck there, though Piebald listens and seems to enjoy the music. He’s observably enthusiastic about various beds, heated or non-heated depending on the season, that Bruce has arranged for him over the years, and a dedicated radiator in his “bachelor pad” when the mercury plunges below freezing.

Bruce and Piebald are a stellar example of the second meaning of catdaptation, adapting your life to the needs, wants and desires of one or more cats. The first definition of the term brings us indoors, where both catdaptation and its companion, “dogdaptation,” are clearly evident. For purposes of illustration, I will share a fraction of this activity, focused on one cat, Grizelda, and one room, the master bedroom.

Grizelda is the official bedroom cat. This responsibility was endowed upon her when she proved adept at escaping over the backyard fence in Prescott and crossing a busy road with lots of wheat truck traffic to harass a flock of taunting tweety birds perched on gigantic weeds, then falling asleep in the weeds.

The symbols of her bedroom occupancy have multiplied with time. Of course she has a litter box. Hers is covered, something to prevent “the boys” from intimidating her when she does what needs doing during daytime hours. Atop the cedar chest, Bruce’s heirloom from his mom, sits a contoured pillow covered with a tattered plaid flannel case, the perfect retreat for when one is not receiving. And of course, food, water and homegrown wheat grass at the ready. Oh, and a heated pad, just in case she doesn’t feel like sleeping on the bed.

Catdaptation can also be a defensive activity. On my nightstand is a spray bottle filled with water, to ward off the “bad cats” who appear out of thin air in the middle of the night and claw the carpet and/or box spring with wild abandon. A few squirts in the direction of the shredding noises are sufficient to chase the “bad cats” away. Grizelda arrives on the bed moments later, some part of her wet, and spewing forth a collection of blue meows. Apparently, she gets unfairly caught in the crossfire.

There you have it, catdaptation made simple. At least we don’t have to put them through college.

*The Matley Home Dictionary (c) 2018

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