pets and travel

New Nerd on the Road – Susa Ataris

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Susa Ataris

Susa Ataris

Beware. by the end of this you”ll know more than you need to about our new cat.

Once we got a bigger place to hang out, we were finally able to have a cat in our lives again. I think we had the new trailer for a day when I started looking on craigslist for needy cats and within a week, on a routine dog food stop at Pet Smart, we walked in just as they were closing the adoption counter. There were tons of cute cats, mostly adults or sister brother pairs, and one young orange cat. I often say stupid things for no reason so I saw the orange cat and said “I don’t like orange cats, they’re terrors.” What my mind had used to come to that conclusion was that every orange cat I’d ever known was a horrible half wild tom cat (and maybe I’m a bit of a ginger-cat generalist). Since 80% of orange cats are males, because orange is basically the calico of male cats, I assumed the orange cat, although the prettiest one, was a male. I read the card above the cage anyway, and it was a girl! I immediately and illogically changed my mind about her and decided to make a connection. I put my hand to the glass and she put her paw to the glass and it was done. There were several other females that were pretty but I was happy with a young cat, not a kitten, and one not too set in their ways already. All the cats were from the New Orleans Animal Control and had either been dropped off or caught feral, they didn’t have any clue which one she was.

We did all the paperwork and took her to the RV parked out front in a little cardboard cat carrier. She was surprisingly calm, didnt meow, didnt scratch, just quietly worried and hoped for the best. We went back inside to buy some things for her, and $150 later (egads) she was the most spoiled cat in the trailer park. I took her out once during the drive back home to give her some water, she just walked around the RV curios and sniffing everything, then mostly quietly went back into her box (except for the part where her water spilled and she got all wet – didn’t like that).

When we got back to the trailer without any issues or noise. When I opened her box, Chena –lover of all things box, was right over top waiting for the surprise. I knew it might not be the best idea to introduce them that way but I had high hopes. They would have to be best friends eventually, it’s a condition my pets have to endure (within reason). As I’d hoped, the cat didn’t even look at Chena, almost looked right through her while curiously looking around the trailer.  After that she made herself right at home. Never once hid or peed on anything, didn’t meow uncontrollably, hiss at us or try to escape. Just laid out in the open or played with her new toys.  She spent one night in the bathroom just in case her litter box skills werent perfect and after that shes been with us almost every minute of every day. I even gave her a bath on the second day because she smelled like kennel and pee and she was fairly decent about that, didn’t scratch, just a little worried.

Susa And Chena

Susa And Chena

As far as her personality, shes very trusting and affectionate but sometimes she would duck from us when she got in trouble, like she thinks we’re going to whack her one, but shes getting used to the idea that we wont be doing that. She has the “I want to trust you so badly and love you unconditionally but some bastard kicked me” syndrome. She came to us with 2 shaved areas. Her belly from being spayed and the side of her back leg. We considered at first, that although strange, maybe it had to do with the spaying but upon closer inspection the hair was longer (more grown out) and there was a 1 inch scar. She may have got cut on a fence, beat up by a raccoon.. who knows. Shes also pretty scared of loud noises, as is Chena but for different reasons. The first time she got scared was by a storage chest closing loudly, she ran from me for several minutes. It was painful that she was so afraid of me but after hours of apology and showing her that what she was scared of wasn’t so bad, shes started to understand. Now when she gets scared she looks at you intently and wide eyed to make sure you give her a sign that you didn’t mean it to scare or hurt her. You have to walk up to her and pet her or pick her up and apologize – If you don’t, she’ll run off and be scared and overall lose trust. Sensitive little kittehs!

It took us a while to name her. We went though all the cliche names for orange cats, and cats in general ans since she nibbled your hand, nose or face while she’s being brushed, we considered Nibbler (from futurama) but decided on a completely different little black monster, Susa Ataris from My Neighbor Totoro. They are soot sprites that hide in the shadows and are said to be good luck – there’s no real connection between them and her personality but it sounded like a cute name and we were sick of having nothing to call her. Within a day she was coming to Susa and it was set.

She’s super curious, what cat isn’t though right. Every time you’re doing something at the counter shes up on hinds mewing at you to know what’s going on. We encourage her curiosity by showing her every single thing she wants to see. Whether its a running tap, sink full of soapy water or jalapeños. After the first 2 times of climbing up my legs, she figured out she could get picked up if she just taps them with her paws. I find that the more you show cats willingly, rather than making things and places forbidden, the sooner they get over it. She walked all over my camera equipment and art supplies twice (on the top bunks), getting hair on everything, then never cared to hang out up there again (save the random kitty freakout and run around the trailer session).

Although I got her the cutest little princess bed, she lays on the hard floor and wont even go into the bedroom except sometimes when we’re sleeping. Good for me because I prefer my clothes stay somewhat hair free before I put them on. When I work she often sits on the breakfast tray beside me and lays her head on my arm. Making it hard for me to type but too adorable to resist. She also likes Jalapeno chips so any time we snack on them she gets her own little crushed chip to snack on.


Susa at work

Susa at work

Susa says hi to Ross

Susa says hi to Ross

All in all I think we’re pretty lucky people and got the best cat we could have possibly found.

She’s undergoing lessons in fetchology, climbing the walls control (claw control), lick the doggys face and ears and most exciting of all, harness training! Shes going to be even more awesome than she already is!

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  • marty

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