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I don’t usually have a problem with the cats that I, as The Excellent Cat Sitter, take care of. Usually after a day or so of my cajoling and sweet talking, the cat chills and lets me into her domain without any fuss. After all, each and all cats already know that they are divine, beautiful, clever, superior beasts and enviable — in other words, the Cat’s Meow. They certainly don’t need me telling them that but they accept the praise as a sort of initiation rite for me to have the privilege of putting plates of food on the floor and scooping their poop. This gorgeous one was not to be bought off so easily.

It didn’t help her disposition, or mine, that I couldn’t get the bloody key to turn in the lock. I had had the same problem the last time I sat for her. I told the owner this and he said he never had a problem, which made me feel incompetent. Then, when I tried the key with him at my side, of course, it worked just fine. I hate when that happens. So I felt confident when I arrived at the door on Thursday. Key in lock, turn to left, handle down and push door — nothing. I tried again, and again. Meanwhile, on the other side of the door, she was already complaining about the fact that her needs had not been taken care of. The more times I tried and failed, the louder her protest became. She is not a patient cat. There was nothing to be done, but tell her I’d be back and not to worry about anything. (I tell my own cats that when I leave the house. They don’t even bother to turn their head in my direction.) I headed for the lobby and the Virtual Concierge.

I had to use her services the last time I was there so I know how it works. But, that said, I find it a weird way of communicating but I had no choice. They try to make it as “real” as possible by providing an abbreviated concierge desk in the lobby so you can pretend that you’re really talking live and in person. I pushed the button on the desk and then, just like that wizard in Oz, she appeared. I introduced myself and told her my story. “Not to worry, Ann,” she said, “I’ll get the Super right on it.” Seconds later, there she was smiling and telling me help was on the way.

The Super recognized me from the winter when she had helped me open the same door. I should have been embarrassed but I wasn’t. Up we went to the 7th floor, she put her master in the door, and opened it. I asked her to try my key — mercifully nothing happened so I didn’t feel a total loser for having called her over. The cat was raising real hell on the other side of that now-opened door. The Super heard the shrieks and took off for the elevator. I slid into the open door. On top of everything else, I didn’t need this cat to escape to the hallway.

There are some behaviours in cats that are intended to remind you that they are, at heart, savage beasts. This one was displaying every one of them. I slipped by her as she hissed and bared her teeth. I got to the treats and threw a handful in her direction and away from me. It worked long enough for me to clean her bowl, fill it up, put fresh water out and slip by her to clean the litter. I started throwing little sweet nothings her way but she was having none of it, she was pissed that I had kept her waiting while I was fooling around with that door. There was no convincing her that it was not my fault so I thought it best to just leave her in peace. One day down — and three more to go.

The next two days, were repeats of the first, except now the Virtual Concierge called me by my first name and got right on getting the Super over. On Day Three, The Super’s master key wouldn’t budge that door. She tried, once, twice, three times and nothing happened. She, then, called the Super-Super to come over and see what he could do. He struggled with his own master key and, finally, got it open. He looked at me and said, “It needs a new lock.” like that was something I should have taken care of. I told him I’d pass the message along to the tenants. Then, I insisted he close the door again and try with my key. Thankfully, nothing happened so I didn’t have to be lectured on the tricks to opening a door. I asked if they’d be around on the weekend because I was sure that key was not going to work for me. To improve my relationship with the cat, I had the foresight to take Temptations with me so that, after they had unlocked the door, I could toss a handful into the apartment before I ventured in. It seemed to please herself and she allowed me to enter unmolested.

By the end of Day Four, she and I were on polite terms, if not snuggling-on-the-couch ones. I took this truce as her approval of how I delivered the services, but, I suspect it had more to do with the Temptations.