I wrote this for my stepsister, who was pet-sitting for us over the holidays...mainly because I knew it would annoy her.
The Care and Feeding of the Domestic Feline
A Guide for the Common Man
Congratulations! You have joined a long and proud line of temporary companion animal caretakers, known by some as Indentured Servants (Feline), but more commonly referred to as “pet sitters.” While the occupation comes with minimal monetary compensation, the sense of personal satisfaction one can gain from the task is unparalleled, provided the sitter retains all of his or her limbs and mental capacities. This guide will enable you to do just that.
Getting to Know Your New Masters
The animals you shall be serving are known as Nick and Lulu. Nick is a portly fellow with white spots on his chest and paws, and a taste for human flesh. Lulu, a beast of blackest night, tends to be more skittish, but will happily gift you with any disemboweled mice she finds on the premises.
Both Nick and Lulu enjoy a good scratch atop the head and beneath the chin. Do beware, though, as both animals have a tendency to bare their underbellies, as though in supplication. Under no circumstances should you take this as an invitation to stroke their revealed bellies. Doing so could result in a loss of limbs or life.
Scheduling Your Servitude
Cats are fiercely independent creatures, and can be left alone for long periods of time; however, they prefer that their servants check on them once per day. If you cannot manage a daily schedule, visiting them on alternating days will suffice. Your new masters will be satisfied as long as you do not allow two full days to pass between visits. Ignoring them for two days in a row will earn their disapproval, which they may show through sour glares, cleverly-placed piles of excrement, and extreme violence.
The Way to a Cat’s Heart
Your new masters would prefer to eat tuna fish for every meal. In the absence of tuna fish, they will be happy to subsist on the flesh of their caretakers. If you wish to discourage this behavior, you shall find a dried cereal-like substance that fulfills their dietary requirements in plastic pitchers in the bottom of the pantry. Fill the blue dish carefully, but do not be distressed if some granules escape: the cats consider food from the floor a delicacy, and vastly prefer it to the properly-served food in their dish.
Feline companions enjoy the following beverages, listed in order of preference: the blood of the innocent, water from the bottom of the shower, condensation on cold beverage containers, the blood of the not-so-innocent, toilet water, water on the floor, and water in their dish. If you must resort to providing them with water in their dish, rinse the dish quickly and fill it with cold tap water.
Eliminating the Elimination
Cats find human toilets to be beneath them, and as such, prefer to use a box filled with sand, clay, wood pellets, or other grainy substance that can easily be tracked across the floor. To maintain freshness and avoid incurring the wrath of your vengeful masters, the litter box should be cleaned daily. This household uses a three-piece sifting box for quick and sanitary disposal of waste (diagrammed below). It consists of a detachable rim (a), a perforated sifting tray (b), and two solid litter trays (c).
To clean the litter box:
- Remove the detachable rim (a).
- Lift the top solid litter tray (c), containing the soiled litter.
- Tip the soiled litter into the perforated sifting tray (b).
- If any soiled litter remains stuck to the solid litter tray (c), scrape it off with a litter scoop, found underneath the sink. Quickly rinsing the tray may be necessary.
- Lift the perforated sifting tray (b), allowing the litter to sift through the bottom and into the bottom solid litter tray (c). Solid waste will remain in the perforated sifting tray.
- Empty the perforated sifting tray (b) into the trash, and place it inside the empty solid litter tray (c).
- Place the full solid litter tray (c) inside the perforated sifting tray (b).
- Re-attach the detachable rim.
Your Very Own Vomitorium
From time to time, your feline overlords will express their displeasure, discomfort, boredom, or satisfaction by expelling the contents of their stomachs onto the floor. Do not be concerned if this happens as much as once per day; it is completely normal. The resulting messes can be cleaned up with an assortment of household chemicals, found on the shelf above the washing machine, and paper towels, found hanging to the left of the kitchen sink.
In Case of Emergency
Your benevolent feline masters are hearty, robust creatures, and are unlikely to have any medical problems while under your care. However, if you notice odd behavior, such as the litter box not being used at all, or vomiting 3 or more times in a day, medical treatment may be necessary. During daytime hours, treatment can be provided by the XXXXXXX Animal Hospital at (XXX) XXX-XXXX, and for after-hours emergencies, contact the Animal Emergency Clinic of XXXXXXX at (XXX) XXX-XXXX.
Note: while friendliness and affection can easily be considered “odd behavior,” they are usually not signs of a medical emergency. If a cat is treating you unnaturally well, be on your guard for vicious sneak attacks and excrement left in your shoes.
The cats you have been called upon to serve may seem like callous, unfeeling, vicious, petty, scheming, violent, murderous beasts, but that’s how they appear to the untrained eye. If you take the time to get to know them, you’ll see that’s exactly what they are.
Armed with this guide, you will be better prepared for the trials that lie ahead. Good luck!