First Time Away From Pete

I have to go away in an hour and I won’t be back til Tuesday evening. It’ll be the first time I’ve left him for any real length of time (our longest absence during the Commonwealth Games was 17 hours, and no overnight absence) and I’m quite anxious about it. I will put his tea out for tonight before I leave – I expect it’ll all be gone within a minute, and then friends will feed him twice tomorrow and Tuesday morning, and I should be back for his Tuesday tea. He has biscuits in his dispenser and plenty of water, so he should be ok, but I’m still anxious. I don’t want him to think I’ve left and I’m not his any more.

I’m even more anxious because tonight is the end of Festival fireworks. He’s been absolutely fine with the Tattoo fireworks, but they’re smaller, quieter, and over much faster. I’ve been sleeping in the same t-shirt for the past three weeks (on purpose) so it smells of me, and I’ve put that in his cardboard box so he has somewhere enclosed to go if he’s feeling worried.

Although I’m worried, and aware that I’m probably worrying over nothing, it is good practice for both of us because I’m going away in a couple of weeks for two weeks. I decided against a cattery – I felt it was cruel to take a cat from a shelter where he wasn’t very happy, give him a happy home for a couple of months, and then put him into a cattery for two weeks. So we’ll see how he does with me away for 48 hours, and hope the signs are promising for my longer absence.

In other news, the other day I saw the couple who live in the flat underneath me. They said they’d let Pete into their flat the other day, thinking he was the cat from along the street. They realised it was Pete, and he had a sniff around and a little snooze, and then they shooed him out. He seemed a bit lost so they encouraged him up to his floor and showed him the catflap. I think he still gets a bit muddled about which floor he’s supposed to be on, and their flat is in the same position as mine, just one floor down, so he was nearly right. I bet it was the day I came home and found him on the doormat.

I saw my neighbour with the dog today. She said the dog is now terrified of Pete since their altercation and not interested in going near him! She said they’d come out the other day with the dog, and Pete was in the stair. She got her partner to pick Pete up and cuddle him and take him to my door while she took the dog down on the lead, and Pete was cuddling into her partner and purring away, and the dog couldn’t get away fast enough – and as soon as her partner put Pete down, he chased after them! She thinks maybe he wanted another go at the dog…

He doesn’t seem to go out much when I’m in the flat. I hear him go out at night now and again, but he doesn’t stay out long, but he almost never goes out during the day when I’m here. I wonder if he goes wandering, looking for cuddles (and, more likely, food) when I’m at work. I need to get him a GPS tracker!


Pete’s Getting More Confident Every Day

He goes in and out of his catflap freely, although he tends to just sit on the doormat for a few minutes, and then comes back in. Today I took him down to the back door and encouraged him to go out into the back green. I left him there and came back upstairs and a few minutes later I could hear him meowing on the 1st floor, and as I opened the door to see what he was doing, I heard him come barrelling up the stairs. So I shut my door again and he came in through the catflap without difficulty. That’s the first time he’s made it back from outside without supervision (that I know of, for all I know he gets the bus into town every day when I’m at work) and I feel much better about him going out at night now.

Although I’d prefer him not to go out of the front door onto the street, I’m sure it’ll happen one day – someone will leave the front door open and that’ll be that. So the other day I took him down to the front door and opened it, and then I just sat on the step. He was obviously both intrigued and anxious, and it took a lot of persuading before he would come and be next to me on the step. I was going to sit him on my knee and reassure him as we looked out, but as soon as I tried to pick him up, he got spooked and shot back in and upstairs. I’ll try again another day. Ideally I’d like him to be able to find his way from the street to around the back, so I know that if he gets shut out of the front door he can find his way back in again. It’ll take time, but I think we’re on the right track.

I Wonder What He Did All Day

Pete seems to have had a massive injection of confidence since I showed him the back green the other day. He’s clattering in and out through the catflap time after time just for the hell of it, and quite happily going up and down the stairs. It’s like someone’s flicked a switch. He was in and out and in and out this morning while I was getting ready for work, and when I left the flat he was sitting on the doormat. I shooed him in, locked the door and set off down the stairs, and by the time I’d got to the first half-landing, he was right behind me. He followed me down almost to the ground floor and sat watching me go out with a mixture of outrage and mournfulness on his face.

I quietly fretted all day that he might have escaped out of the front door and I’d come home to a missing cat, or worse, a squashed one. But when I arrived home, he was sitting on the doormat. Once he saw me, he meowed, leaped up, and came to meet me with a mixture of outrage and pleasure on his face. I decided to encourage him to go in through the catflap rather than open the door for him, but it took him a few minutes to manage it. So now I’m worried that he spent the whole day on the doormat waiting for me because he forgot he could get in. On the other hand, at least he was there waiting for me and didn’t do a runner – I think he knows this is home now.

Adventures Outside

Pete has shown very little interest in going outside so far. Sometimes he will go out through his catflap, sit on the doormat for a few minutes, and then come back in (usually after I tap the plastic to remind him he can get back in), but that’s about all. I’ve been locking the catflap at night and when I’m at work, as I haven’t felt confident he really knows his way around the stair yet.

Yesterday I carried him down to the ground floor and showed him the catflap in the back door to the back green. He wasn’t interested and came straight back upstairs. But last night as I was going to bed, he went out. I went to bed and read for a while, thinking he’d be back in soon. There was no sign of him after 15 minutes or so, so I went for a look. No sign of him when I peered through the catflap, no sign of him when I opened the door. Eventually he showed himself on the ground floor and as I went to get him, he ran back up and came in. I locked and blocked the catflap, went to bed, and had to get up ten minutes later as Pete had barged the box out of the way and was trying to break out of the catflap. So I unlocked it, not wanting him to break it, and he shot out. No sign of him 45 minutes later so I got up, put a dressing gown on, and went to look. No sign of him in the stair. Couldn’t see anything through the window into the back green as it was pitch black, but held the catflap open and I could hear the bell on his collar tinkling. Called him, and he came barrelling towards me, inside and ran upstairs and in, where he went to sleep.

I had hoped that he could learn about going into the back green and coming home again, with me there to make sure he was ok, and in the daylight, but obviously he had other plans.

I heard him go out again about 0440 and then I heard next door’s dog barking, so I went to check he was ok – he was sitting on the doormat and came in as soon as I opened the door. He is still a bit dim about using the flap to come in unless I’m there to encourage him through it.

He’s obviously feeling confident about going out now – the difference between last night and yesterday morning was drastic! I don’t want him to break the catflap, which he could because he’s a big strong boy, so I think I’ll just leave it unlocked from now on, and hope he doesn’t get lost. I’m going a put a note on the main door as well asking people to be sure they shut it, because I really don’t want him going out the front into the street. There are dogs hanging around the pub, and quite a lot of traffic for such a small street, and no way back in unless he finds his way round the back. He was straying before the shelter took him in, and I don’t want to lose him. Even after only 6 weeks, I couldn’t bear to lose him.


One of the reasons I chose a microchip catflap for Pete was that until fairly recently, a lovely cat who lives along the street would regularly get into this stair via the catflap in the door to the back green. He and I became good friends and (with his owner’s permission) I would often let him into my flat where he would have a sniff around and a snooze. He caught three mice for me (although one of them was one he brought in and let loose, but we had a little chat and he never did it again). In the months he was coming in here regularly, the mouse problem more or less disappeared, but then the neighbour’s dog frightened him off, he stopped coming in, the mice came back and I got Pete. I was concerned that if I got a standard catflap, the neighbour’s cat would just let himself in, and there would be cat shenanigans.

At the moment, I keep the catflap locked most of the time, and adjust it to free entry/exit when I’m at home in the evenings. He does go out a couple of times every evening, sits on the doormat for a while, and then comes in again (although he usually has to be enticed in as he’s still a bit thick about coming back in through the flap) but I lock the flap at night so he can’t get out and wander off, or get stuck outside, or be stolen by a cat burglar.

This morning as I went through my usual routine, Pete was sitting sniffing at the catflap and behaving as if he wanted to go out for a while. I had a little while before I had to leave so I decided to unlock the catflap so he could go out if he wanted to.


Either I have really angered my neighbours this week, or some other animal has been up and deliberately pissed all over the bottom half of my door, and the catflap! From the location of the pee, it looks like a cat has turned his back on the door and sprayed it, making sure the flap got a good soaking. Boak. And of course as I opened the door to deal with the mess, it all ran down and onto my hall floor.

What I suspect has happened is that the neighbour’s cat, who would always make a beeline for my door if he was in this stair, has come in in the middle of the night, smelled Pete, smelled extra-concentrated essence of Pete around the catflap, and has decided to let him know who was there first. Pete went out and had a sniff around and rubbed himself on the places the neighbour’s cat usually rubs himself, and looked a little bit worried about it. I cleaned it all up and went off to work, hoping that Pete wouldn’t choose to assert his rights by pissing all over the inside of the door.

All was well when I got in, and I spent some more time with the bleach, white vinegar and bicarbonate of soda. I left the door open for an hour or so to encourage drying of the floor and Pete was going out quite happily and even ventured across the landing to the flat where the dog lives, and upstairs, which he hasn’t done for a long time, so I think he might not be too bothered.

So, cleaning up piss was reasonably crap, but imagine the drama if the neighbour’s cat had let himself in in the middle of the night. I would not have liked coping with that at all!

Finally, A Toy He Loves!

I bought Pete a selection of toys when I first got him, but he hasn’t really been keen on any of them except his feathery stick, which he destroyed in 3 short weeks. He has a few catnip mice, but shows very little interest in them unless I tie them to a ribbon and dangle them for him, but he still doesn’t really play with them much, he just gets them in his front paws and tries to gnaw their heads off.

A friend of mine has bought him a new catnip mouse, with a little plastic tag attached. You pull the tag and it sets off the clockwork innards and it shuffles around on the floor for a few seconds. He loves it. He bats it around, kicks it, chews it, pounces on it, and at least three times has managed to somehow pull the tag himself and make it move.

I hope it was coincidence rather than him developing opposable thumbs, or humanity is doomed. 😀

More Catflap Progress

Tonight I taped the catflap open again, and put Pete’s dinner into the bowl outside. It only took him a minute or so to decide to go out to eat it. Then I decided to make it more difficult, untaped and closed the catflap, put Pete outside, and re-filled his bowl inside. It took him a little while, but duck flavour Kitekat was enough to persuade him through a closed catflap. I think he’s getting the hang of it!

Catflap Continues…

After Monday’s scary incident, I didn’t try Pete with the catflap on Tuesday, but last night he was sniffing at the door and I decided to try again. I taped it open and then in a moment of genius, put his dinner in his dish, outside the door. He’s such a greedy bugger and he was desperate for his meal, but it still took him a couple of minutes to get up the courage to come through the flap. I’d put about a quarter of the pouch in, and once he’d eaten it, I put the next quarter in the bowl and put it inside. It took him a bit longer to come through the flap to get in, but he did it, and he finished the pouch with me moving the bowl in and out to encourage him through.

As I was going to bed, I realised I’d left it on 2-way entry so went to lock it – just in time to see him go out through it. He just lay down on the doormat when he got there and wouldn’t come back through the flap, but as soon as I opened the door, he came in. So he’s starting to get the hang of it. 🙂