“They think we're moving again,” my husband said when we dragged all our furniture out onto the side porch.
The girls -- that is, to say, our cats -- were distant and disoriented. Sistercat retreated to the attic unless we could prove we had a treat to offer, a shaking bag or tin.
When I accepted the insurance money to repair the damage left by our refrigerator installation in March, I signed a document that I would not discuss the company or the process — so yeah.
But the long and short of it was, the Wards received a free refinishing of their first-floor hardwood floors, worn decades upon decades, and finally arranged to have that done last week.
Sunday night I carried the cats to their food and water, for the week displaced to our bedroom upstairs.
Usually they react to things I'm trying to show them with utter disinterest. Instead they began eating and drinking with vigor, as if this was a game that involved moving their food closer to where they sleep.
Jamie and I chose to flaunt the natural color of the wood, which meant a day and a half of sanding and two and a half days of polyurethane. We'd be displaced, too, out till 5 p.m. most days.
As part of our decision to give the cats the run of the entire upstairs, in case they grew brave during the hours we'd be gone, I warned the contractor, Michael's Hardwood Flooring of Chardon.
“They're unlikely to come downstairs once they hear strangers and unfamiliar footsteps,” I told Michael, “but if they do, just chase 'em back upstairs and let me know.”
“Oh, lots of customers have cats. It's always fine,” he said. “They never come down.”
The plastic sheet taped up in the stairwell has that affect on most cats, of course.
The week was a mixture of excitement, as our floor turned from dark orange to basketball-court tan to rich shades of combined red and white oak, and discontent from the girls, staying mostly on the bed or under stacked furniture.
The second day I even briefly feared Sister had succumbed to the fumes — which were extremely mild, mind you, but animals can be sensitive.
She didn't come when called; I hadn't seen her all day.
We used a tin of cat breath mints to track her down. She'd been hiding behind an old door in the attic, where she never goes. Pouting.
Maybe I can show her the sanded floor and she'll understand, I thought.
She wasn't disinterested, per say, but definitely wanted to go back upstairs.
Days two, three and four, we also saw much more of Muppet than Sister.
I took her downstairs again. “See, we're not leaving,” I cooed.
Her eyes were wide, but she didn't want anything to do with it.
After a job well done, Michael removed the plastic Friday, and as Jamie and I enjoyed the last night of our fully furnished side porch, the girls briefly ventured downstairs, exploring and observing the acoustics of an empty room with a few concerned meows.
We replaced the furniture Sunday morning, and Sister reappeared on the back of the couch shorty after 2 p.m.
She slinked across my lap, tail held high — eager to make up for lost time.
Apology accepted. Oh, and Sister, we promise we'll never do it again.