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Singing in the Rain
October 1, 2006

By Gary Michael Smith

You'll remember my Stray Pets piece on an earlier posting. This was the story of how my significant other, Brenda, and I have, like so many others in our recovering New Orleans, taken the responsibility to care for and feed so many stray pets who were abandoned during the Hurricane Katrina evacuation. You also may remember "Jenny" as being one of those who evidently once had an owner, but who also seemed to be making it on its own and began spending more and more time at our house -- prompting us to adopt it about a month ago. It was at this time that we realized Jenny was going to have to be renamed since the vet told us she actually was a he. So, thinking that he probably lived by the grace of the many National Guard troops feeding him while they patrolled our streets for weeks after the storm, we named him Emory -- rationalizing that he must have fattened up on the high-calorie M.R.E.s for quite some time. And this also is why we thought he was a she because the MREs had made him quite fat, prompting us think of pregnancy.

tabby
Emory -- an Indoor Cat Now

We've taken in Emory, and he's currently trying to assimilate to indoor life with Chatgris and Hambone. It's taking him some getting use to, what with a litter box, fresh and clean food and water bowls, and a bug-free environment. But his survival skills still tell him to be wary of any and all who approach him. Indeed, he still growls and hisses every time I pick him up, and he'll even snap and bite me occasionally. But he never breaks the skin; it's more of just a warning of what he's capable of.

We have discovered one interesting quirk, however. He loves to join us in the shower. It started innocently enough with him bolting for the bathroom whenever he hears us turn on the water. He then pushes past the shower curtain, hops over the four-inch step into our tiled shower cube, and wanders around, blinking his eyes and shaking the water from his head as he circles inside the stall. Yep, even though we have multiple kitty watering fountains, filtered and spring water, Emory still enjoys licking the floor and walls of the shower -- while we bathe. Brenda doesn't mind this so much, but I'm not crazy about it -- just something about showering with a cat that doesn't seem right. I'll usually tell him to get out for a minute until I finish, and he normally accommodates me. But he's right back in the stall as soon as I turn off the twin six-inch sunflower shower heads. Otherwise, he's just as content to walk around the stall, with full streams of water showering down on him, while I lather up.

cat in shower
No One Puts Me in Here (Water on)

My only explanation is that maybe it makes him feel like he's outside again, in a rainstorm, enjoying nature at its best. He's clean and parasite-free, and I brush him occasionally, so it can't be that. But I'm not inclined to dowse him in a tub of water like I do the other two boys since he's still so uncomfortable being handled. I just don't see him taking too well to me dumping him directly into water.

So for now, Emory continues to shower with Brenda or hop in as soon as I'm done. Who knows what he's thinking, but what's the harm?

cat in shower
I Just Like It! (Water off)

An update: Emory has now realized that I'm his dad and lays on the sofa with me every chance he gets. Doesn't bite too much anymore, and easily lets me pick him up now. He's also claimed the futon as his own and even occasionally snifs noses with the other boys now and then. He's assimilating "in his own time."

Gary Michael Smith is a writer in New Orleans. He can be reached at ChatgrisPress@ChatgrisPress.com.