What I learned after three weeks with a cat is that they’re easy to take care of. Cleaning up the litter tray takes seconds and providing them with food two to three times a day is simple. It’s also simple to keep them entertained. A ball of string on a string and a laser pointer are great toys. They also enjoy shredding rolls of toilet paper so it’s good to be careful.
They like to go on a balcony and watch birds and they like to sit and “watch” a pipe. Don’t be tricked though. They are not watching the pipe. They are listening to the noises as people open and close taps, and as the pressure changes within the pipes make noise. I know because I tapped on the pipe and saw the cat stare intently at the source of the noise at his eye level.
If you’re planning to do anything then it’s a good idea to lock the balcony door. If he gets out he will stare at birds on rooftops for hours. As he’s happy to do this for hours at a time you may find yourself procrastinating for much longer than you would like.
Paradoxically this same cat will then nap during the afternoon and evening. He likes to go on the shelf where I have my clothes. He likes to investigate every bag and he is curious about everything he can find.
He loves investigating the lights that he sees on the ceilings during the day and night. I don’t mean incandescent bulbs. I mean the reflection that comes from cars, trucks and other vehicles as their windshields reflect light. He also likes the lights from these vehicles at night. He will sprint after, and try to catch them if they are in range.
Cats are independent and they don’t need your company for long. They’d be just as happy to see you for 20 minutes as you bring them food and then disappear, as to see you every few hours. If you spend too much time with a cat he will no longer care.
Keeping a window open so that the car can go onto the balcony and come back is unpleasant in cold weather, and those hours of exploration will result in you wearing clothes as if you were sitting outdoors for hours.
He comes in to have a drink of water and then he goes back out to explore. After a few more minutes he comes back in, meows and has some food before heading back outside again. This goes on for hours until it’s time for the next nap or you decide that it’s time for the human to go out.
I know that you can’t compare taking care of a toddler and a cat but I’d say that taking care of a toddler is more rewarding despite being much messier. You can play with a toddler and you can teach them new things. When you speak to them you see that they understand what you’re saying.
After three weeks of cat sitting I know two things. The first is that I am able to serve and it will live normally. The second is that they’re so independent that if you’re looking for an empathetic being you’re better served by being an uncle.
On Tuesday evening I go back to my normal life and we will see whether I miss having the company and responsibility of a cat. It’s easy to look after a cat. They take care of themselves. Being woken at 6-7 in the morning is fine.