I never used to. Our previous cat was used to being without us for many hours at a time, and never seemed to mind it. She even seemed a bit relieved to have the house all to herself! We imagined that she was like a teen-ager, ready to scratch the furniture, gobble cat treats and barf on the rug while her pesky humans were away.
But our new rescue kitty is different. She seems to have abandonment issues, and it is no wonder: her first humans were hoarders, who both left for the hospital and never came back. The elderly couple both died within a week from Covid.
Her next humans loved her. But they had another cat, who definitely did not: after five tormented months, they decided that she would need to be re-homed. So the cat they had named Princess was once more dropped off, never to see them again.
So we try to understand when she is anxious. At first, she was too frightened and sad to even emerge from the fluffy teepee her previous humans had brought for her. She would scurry out
in the dead of night to gobble a few mouthfuls of kibble, and use the cat box.
But we tried to be patient, and slowly she came to trust us. She would come out, and timidly ask to be petted. But it didn’t take much for her to retreat back to the closet: a doorbell, the vacuum, or even loud footsteps in the hall would send her fleeing back to the closet. But even this was progress; now she had abandoned the fluffy bed, and took refuge in the laundry basket, which probably had our comforting smells all over the contents.
Now, she is really coming into her own. She has developed her own rituals, and tries valiantly to keep us on schedule. She has even accommodated our strange human ways: she allows us to sleep until a luxurious 7am. She mostly confines her furious scratching to the item we have purchased for that purpose.
But there are echoes of the past. Like all of us, she cannot totally forget her previous life, or the fear that she will once again be abandoned by those she loves. When we went out for a rare extended visit to friends, we returned to see her lonely, fearful eyes looking up at us from the laundry basket. It made us terribly sad to imagine what must have been going through her mind. “Have they left me? Will they ever come back? Where will I be living next?”
So it will take time for her to trust that she is safe and loved. That she is in her forever home. And that no matter how often we leave her, we will always come back.