One of the hardest things about leaving Pristina for 3 months was leaving our cat, Annabelle. It’s a really long time to be away. We considered multiple options but knowing our cat’s aversion to travel and conversations we had with our last vet, we decided to have someone look after her here in our home. Annabelle is not a high maintenance cat, and we’ve been able to leave her alone for a few days at a time without any trouble. Any longer and we usually have a friend stop in to refresh her food and water and check on her. 3 months felt like way too long to ask a friend to commit to, and I also wanted someone coming at least every other day so she wouldn’t get too lonely or feel abandoned.
Finding the right cat sitter proved to be a very difficult task. Our housekeeper, Yllka, has checked on our cat previously. She is perfectly capable of filling her food and getting her fresh water, but she is not really a pet person so she doesn’t interact with her. By that I mean, she tries to to stay as far away from her as possible. There is a young girl at post (we’ll call her E), I thought she was maybe 11, and I thought she seemed up for the job. I mean, I was babysitting kids at her age so surely she could handle a cat! To make JR more comfortable I told a wee white lie and said she was 12. That didn’t turn out so well for me when a few weeks later – after I hired her, of course – our young cat sitter revealed that she was 9. NINE!
Feeling nervous about this lapse in judgment, I asked Yllka if she would also check on kitty when she came by to clean each week. For my own comfort, I made Yllka and E (our not even a pre-teen cat sitter) each a calendar with clear instructions of which day each person should come to the apartment and spend time with the cat.
Even with that plan in place, I was sick with worry about leaving kitty for so long. So we gave another set of keys to our friend Keri, who is totally dependable and great with cats. She offered to come by occasionally for us and make sure Annabelle was doing okay. She also agreed to be our “in case of emergency” contact and serve as a go-between if Yllka or E had questions. So basically we had 3 different cat sitters. Not exactly efficient.
I’m confident that Yllka and E both gave it their all, but there were a few minor issues.
One day, I e-mailed Yllka to see how things were going (shocker, the 9 year old does not have an email account). It can be difficult to communicate with Yllka via text or e-mail. She speaks English well, but relies on the help of translating programs on the internet when she needs to write to us. Here was her reply:
“I hope you are well. Today was the place purified and pour fawn cat food and water every thing is okay., I would like you to go on 20 June for holiday turkey for 7 days after which you will go back to Kosovo on June 21 but i in time that you have given June 24 is the day you have to work or can I free this day and come to work after the holiday to come.”
It only took me a minute or two to realize she was just letting me know that the cat was doing fine and she would be headed to Turkey for a vacation. She was also nice enough to attach a few pictures of Annabelle with her reply.
A few weeks later, Keri messaged me on FB to pass along a text she’d received from Yllka.
“Hi Kerri Sorry that I write to you in this time! To Jenni a shingle is finish to buy I can buy you for a cat is to because there is more in the box Thanks Yllka”
Smart lady that she is, Keri figured out that a shingle had something to do with needing more cat litter. Yllka very generously purchased the litter for us and left us a receipt to reimburse her upon our return.
While the logistics were a bit tricky at times, Annabelle did just fine without us, and so far she hasn’t tried to eat the baby. Yet. 🙂