Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Moving as Educational Experience

This is an indicator of how much one year of blogging has changed the way I view the world - I found an analogy to education through moving.

Spike and Chainsaw have been with me for 12 years, through 3 states and 8 households. Change is NOT their forte. They like the pattern's they've set for themselves and make it very clear to me when something is amiss.

From watching them - I'm see that acceptance of radical change happens in phases.

Status quo - all of the furniture is in the proper place, smells "right" and has the obligatory layer of cat fur. Spike patrols the joint and gives me regular "state of the beastie" updates - usually first thing in the morning and as soon as I get home from work. Chainsaw is the "guard kitty" and makes sure I am within eyesight and petting distance. All is right with the world.

Stage 1 - the initial trauma. Each cat has their own reaction to being shoved in a carrier and driven 5 miles. Chainsaw complains loudly and lets me know that he is being TORTURED and that the "pain" is UNBEARABLE. Spike whimpers in a corner and poos in his box.

Stage 2 - introduction to the change. The cats are set free from the carriers and invited to investigate the apartment (after appropriate cleaning of cats and carriers - see above). Spike wanders around to investigate the new surroundings. Chainsaw attempts to find a hiding place (I haven't moved my furniture yet), complains loudly about the lack of hiding spots and the indignity of the whole thing and attempts to escape out the door.

Stage 3 - a search for safety. Both cats find hiding spots in closets to rest and recuperate from the change. Spike performs occasional reconnaisance to determine the location of food, litterbox, and feeder woman - reporting his findings to Chainsaw, who is still in the closet.

Stage 4 - getting comfortable (early adopter version). Spike decides that the environment is not so bad. In an attempt to gain some feeling of control over his surroundings, he tasks himself with the job of supervising the move - following my friends around and talking to them as they unload boxes and furniture. Chainsaw is still in the closet.

Stage 5 - challenges to the change. A friend, unloading books, accidentally drops a blender near Chainsaw - who has come out from his hiding place looking for food. Chainsaw races back to the closet. Finding the closet door closed, he makes the "I'm being TORTURED, my life SUCKS and I HATE YOU ALL!" sound until someone opens the closet door. He does not come out until I physically drag him out about 12 hours later.

Stage 6 - getting comfortable (change-phobic version). Realizing that things have stabilized, (and after I spend 2 hours on the couch petting him), Chainsaw begins to investigate his surroundings. For the next 2 days, he will locate all appropriate hiding places that allow him to keep an eye on me while staying someplace safe (i.e. where blenders won't fall on his head). He will come out from the various hiding places to follow me around when I am not within eyesight.

Both cats are starting to revert to the status quo state and are beginning the process of developing patterns around their new environment. Last night - Chainsaw started hanging out on his favorite spot on the couch - near my head and within petting distance. This morning, I was greeted with the state of the beastie address from Spike and a list of complaints from Chainsaw. Though all is not quite right with the world - I think they will have their patterns pretty much set by the end of the week.


Christy Tucker said...

Your cats are named Spike and Chainsaw? OK, there has to be a story there.

Thanks for the laugh--I read the entire post out loud to my husband, who is generally bored by the blogs I read, but agreed that this post was quite entertaining.

Karyn Romeis said...

Love it! I also have two cats, and have used their respective behaviours as an analogy for learning before. Check out my obscure musings