So Tink was out on the deck today, sniffing around around in the leaves, and she finds this one spot she got really curious about. Lots of up-close sniffing, whiskers a-twitching, the tail going and everything. There’s been a fat squirrel raiding the birdfeeders, and I think that’s who she smelled — but unfortunately, Zeugma came up right beside her just when she was sniffing this odd scent, and startled her terribly, so much so that Tink hissed at Zeugma and bolted inside. Zeugma, apparently thinking it was a game, gave chase, and before I could follow, there arose from the living room an absolutely unholy commotion: not just yowling or growling or spitting, but screams like I’ve never heard cats make, like as loud as people screams. The screams were still going on when I got in there, Tink with her ears flat back against her head and her tail all bottle-brushy, and Zeugma — having realized that it wasn’t a game — spitting back with the Halloween-cat arch and bristle. They tore off into another couple circuits around the apartment until I was able to scoop up Zeugma and close her in the bedroom. Tink was hiding under the kitchen table, and she started screaming at me — really, it was scary how loud she got — as soon as I came in the room, so I backed off, and she dashed behind the dryer, where she hid all afternoon, growling when I got too close.
I felt horrible to have her so scared of me. When I was young, there were times when I was that terrified of my dad.
Tink usually eats around six, so I waited until six thirty or so to rattle some food into her dish. After some coaxing, she came out and took a couple bites, and calmed down enough to let me carry her into the bathroom with the food: I thought with a small, dark, enclosed space she’d feel a little more secure and protected. She seemed OK, until I went to get her litter box, and when I brought it in she shrank back from me, screaming, ears back flat, into the tub, and — this is the part that upsets me most, because it tells me how scared she was — voided her bladder. I got out of there as quickly as I could and closed the door.
So Tink’s in the bathroom, making the occasional growl or caterwaul, and Zeugma’s in the bedroom, mewling about how lonely she is. I let her out of the bedroom briefly, but she started to pass by the bathroom door and Tink screamed from behind the door and Zeugma’s tail puffed up and she fled for the living room.
A couple hours later, Tink started asking to be let out of the bathroom, and high-tailed it for my office when I opened the door. Still, she’s hissed at me each time I’ve come into the room, although having me nearby and non-threatening seems to embolden her enough to come up and ask for a belly rub after a while. She’s pretty clearly still freaked out, though. And Zeugma is lonely and confused and begging for attention.
They’re about a year and a half old now, and the only time anything even close to this has happened was when I brought them home from the vet after they’d had shots and they were nasty to one another for a couple days. But never this bad: Tink’s never, ever screamed like that. So I’m worried. And wondering how I’ll tell students tomorrow, “Well, I don’t have all your papers graded because my cats were going psycho.”