Thomas Bates

Brief Thoughts

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Company for Quarantine

Ripley 1

Since mid-March, I’ve been working from home, and generally not leaving my apartment unless I have a good reason. I’ve never been a big fan of working from home. Despite being an introvert, an office environment has a social component that I find critical for well-being: distraction. I explored this some time ago in the Ramblings from Quarantine post, and a few months later, it holds.

I left an essential part of the picture out of the post, though - the one piece of company I still have throughout the day and in-person: my cat Ripley. It’s hard to believe, but I’ve had Ripley now for about four years. Despite quarantine, many people may have family living with them, or perhaps they’re still working in person. For me, though, everyone I’ve spoken to since March has been through technology, with very few exceptions.

I got Ripley when I was working as the front-desk person at a medical clinic. Another receptionist, Elizabeth, was talking about how her neighbors were mistreating a cat. The kids would kick and fight at it, and it was terrified of people. One rainy night, Elizabeth and her daughter got hold of the cat, gave her some food, and cut some matting out of her long hair. I picked her up that night.

When we got home, she ran behind my dryer and wouldn’t come out. For two weeks, I sat beside the dryer and talked at her, leaving food & water in front of the dryer. Eventually, she came out, though she was mostly distant for a long time.

Ellen Ripley

I named her Ripley after Ellen Ripley from Alien - a strong, independent woman, much like my cat. Sometimes I call her Rip Torn, after the actor I know best from the Larry Sanders Show - I mainly use this moniker when she’s getting into trouble.

Rip Torn

Ripley has stayed pretty distant the whole time I’ve had her. She’s playful, but she is selective on when, where, and how she allows pets. She often prefers feet to hands (weird), and she never allowed me to brush her until recently - a problem since she has long hair prone to matting.

At some point, Ripley started sleeping at the foot of my bed. I’ve often wondered what she does all day when I’m at work, and now I know, sleep and patrol. Ripley wakes me up if I sleep past the time that I usually feed her. In the morning, she sleeps somewhere in the house; around noontime, she’ll come and sit in the entry of the living room and stare blankly. Then she’ll walk around, staring intently at nothing some more. Sometimes she’ll jump up onto the couch and trot over to my desk and sleep right on top of my day planner.

I have a large desk with two pull out writing trays on either side. I always have one of these clear for Ripley, but she never uses it. Instead, she sits on top of my hobonichi and whatever papers I most need at the time. She sits there and stares or sleeps and usually gets in the way while I work.

Pets are shown to improve their owner’s mental health. I read an article recently about younger generations valuing or loving their pets as if they were children. While I think that might be just a little dramatic, I can’t tolerate the thought of anything bad happening to my cat, and I’m glad to have her company during the quarantine. Ripley is now at my feet and nosing my toes, probably prompting me to feed her. Please enjoy some more pictures of her in closing.

Ripley 2

Ripley 3

4 August 2020

T.E. Bates


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