Remember in Part 2, when Iggy was strong enough to climb out of his shoebox, so I needed to give him a larger cardboard box so that he wouldn’t get lost in my big house? After a few weeks, he was big enough that the larger cardboard box in the living room wasn’t quite enough to contain him.
It wasn’t that he couldn’t get comfortable in there; it was still plenty roomy for his wee self to stretch out. It was just that as he got older, he became more ambitious and wanted to spend more time outside, and as he became bigger and stronger, he was able to vault himself out of the box even with my shawl heaped on top. Even with the I-Knead-You time, he still didn’t take kindly to me sticking him back in his dark cardboard cell so that I could go do things that didn’t include keeping an eye on Iggy.
Remember how I said I’d been sleeping downstairs in the winter because it was easier to heat? Well, by late April, there was more sunshine outside and thus the upstairs was warmer. The downstairs was in shade and the tiled floors were still plenty cold. Anyway, one evening I was at home with Iggy, and he was not happy about me putting him back in the box. He yelled at me, struggled and raked his little claws against the inside cardboard walls. He couldn’t get his claws to dig into the cardboard, but if left alone he managed to get enough liftoff to catapult him over the ledge. The point is that one evening, I went upstairs for a few minutes, and when I came back down, Iggy had freed himself from the box.
He was cowering under the cardboard flap, not daring to step off the little hand-knitted acrylic rug.
I think I know what happened: he jumped out of the box, briefly shouted “FREEDOM!”, then pressed one dainty little paw into that bare tiled floor, and said, “HOLY SHIT THAT’S COLD!” All those weeks of never being allowed to walk on anything that wasn’t either covered in fabric or generating its own heat (i.e. my hands), and then there was the living room floor.
So, that happened while I was upstairs, and I came into the living room again to find my foster kitty not daring to step off the rug again, and you know what I did? I pointed and laughed at that poor animal.
It must have been very soon after that moment that I moved Iggy upstairs. There was a spare bedroom with nothing but a couple of twin beds and a large rug taking up most of the floor. I brought Iggy and his box up to the room, set the box on its side and kept the shawl draped over the opening so that it would keep him warm when he slept but not keep him from getting in and out. I scattered my crocheted practice pieces all over the rug so he could play with them.
In case you’re wondering, most Peace Corps Volunteers do not get anywhere near this much house to themselves during their assignments. Most volunteers rent small apartments and are grateful for the privacy. I had an embarrassment of housing and I appreciated every day of it. Since I had this embarrassment of housing, I had this whole extra room that I could set aside just for my foster kitty.
He was undoubtedly the most spoiled cat in post-Communist Europe.
The change of setting meant that I had to either bring the heated formula upstairs or take Iggy downstairs for feedings. It also meant I started bathing him in the upstairs bathroom rather than the kitchen sink. Shortly before I gave him his own room, I started trimming his nails, and you can probably imagine that he didn’t enjoy this. Not that he ripped my hands to shreds, just that he was constantly wiggling out of my grasp and it took several attempts to get all his talons trimmed down. Since I didn’t give him a scratching post, and the claws kept getting caught in my clothes when I held him, I figured the nail-trimming had to happen.
He didn’t demand a lot of cuddle time outside of feedings, but he seemed to like being near me. Whenever I came into his room, he’d scamper out of the box and when I left, he’d try to follow me through the door. I’d come into the room, stretch out on the rug, and Iggy would mainly just march around the perimeter of the rug, occasionally stopping to claw at my house slippers. If I sat on one of the beds, he’d sit between my feet. I sometimes brought him out to the balcony to enjoy the sunshine, and I’m sure he liked the warm upholstery on the sofa out there, but he was also rather nonplussed that I wouldn’t let him jump to the ground.