M. Giant's
Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks

Friday, January 11, 2008  

Digging Out

We brought Excavator home last Wednesday. Someone told us we should wait eight days before introducing him to Phantom, keeping them separate in the meantime. It's been eight days as of yesterday. Naturally, we stopped segregating them last Friday.

I recall how, three years ago, I lamented the inconvenient irony of having named a cat Phantom, given her ability to disappear in the basement. I had no idea. Her vanishing acts were nothing compared to those of Excavator. And when you do find him, he lives up to his name by forcing you to dig him out of tiny hiding spots.

Normally we'd just back off and give him the chance to come out on his own time. But he's supposed to be taking his antibiotics twice a day, so we can't let it go. Which is what has led to scenes like Trash and I up on the basement furniture, trying to corner him as he skitters around on top of the suspended ceiling tiles.

I can't tell you how many times in the past week I've gone downstairs just in time to see a fluffy black blur disappear out of reach into the dark, doorless storage closet, or even further out of reach into the crammed, disorganized, and inaccessible-to-humans crawlspace under the basement stairs. Sometimes he hides behind the furnace, a spot that has two exit routes. One person can keep him "treed" back there, but if that person commits to reaching in, Excavator can get out the other way and sprint to a more unreachable spot. Two people should theoretically be able to corner him, but he proved fast enough to get past M. Small the other day. That was disappointing.

And then I have to dig around in these places to find him. I imagine him trying to be as small as possible in some tiny, dark space, listening to me lumber around outside like the monster in Cloverfield, crashing and making terrifying noises like "Come on out, sweetie! [kiss kiss kiss]." Too many times, I've been reduced to awkwardly sticking my hand into some all-but-nonexistent air pocket and grabbing blindly onto whatever part of him I can get my fingers around. Which seems dangerous. Not because he claws or bites -- because he doesn't -- but because he hasn't been fixed yet.

He does, however, hiss furiously. From the point you shine the flashlight beam into his eyes (did I mention the flashlights? Trash and I are like Mulder and Scully with the flashlights any more) until the moment that his last desperate claw comes unmoored from the carpet/storage box/rafter/underside of the box spring, he tries to scare you off with the most hateful demon-cat invective he can summon. Which is just adorable. Even M. Small has taken to happily announcing, "I'm hisking! xkxkx! xkxkxkx! I'm hisking at you!" while grinning like a loon.

But finally you get Excavator free and squeeze him to your body, feeling his heart rattling inside his ribcage like a hummingbird on speed. And then he starts purring louder than a machine gun.

This, aside from the antibiotics, is the main reason I can pry him out without feeling too guilty. Despite his shyness, he's obviously lonely, as demonstrated by the length of the marathon snuggle sessions he voluntarily participates in.

Yesterday we went another step, and locked him out of the basement. Now he can still hide under the guest bed or in the depths of our bedroom closet, but he can't vanish from sight for any more 36-hour periods. Those made us kind of nervous, like he had hidden himself so deep he couldn't get out any more, and we'd never see him again until we emptied the entire basement and drilled a significant distance into the earth's mantle.

And how's Phantom adjusting? Well, she freaked out on him the first time they met last Friday night. There was screaming such as I have not heard since the last time the neighbor's cat got too close to our bathroom window. Now she just hisses at him whenever I put them on the bed together, but her heart isn't in it. She's as lonely as he is, in her way. She spooked him off when he tried to sneak up and clean behind her ear yesterday, but I think the only one who's still really enjoying hissing at anyone is M. Small. And I think Excavator is noticing, and it's making him feel safer.

Hence his behavior last night. But more on that at a later date.

* * *

Not that you need reminding, but next Friday is the day of the Great Amazon Pre-Order Caper. Or the Good Amazon Pre-Order Caper, at least.

posted by M. Giant 8:53 PM 0 comments


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