How I became a cat sitter Part 4 – Can one be a cat shrink?

How I became a cat sitter Part 4 – Can one be a cat shrink?

In my last post, I talked about finding out Larmlarm is a very difficult cat. But he helped me get through depression and gave me enough strength and courage to move to Paris to start a new life.

When we moved to Paris, we had nothing. All I had was two suitcases, a one-way ticket,1000 Euro a friend loaned me; and most importantly – LarmLarm. I built the life that I have today with my bare hands and I doubt I could have done it without him.

(If you are interested in knowing more about my journey – I have started a sideline blog to talk about everything that’s not related to my job –Outside The Purrfect Job.)

Not only he did help me through the difficult times of my life by being supportive, his horrendous personality also led me to get into the whole ‘cat thing’. (Oh well, cats get you in all sorts of unexpected ways, don’t they?)

When Larmlarm was little, I was told, ‘don’t worry, he is difficult now because he is a kitten, just hang on and wait. Once he gets older, say, when he is 2, he will be much calmer.’

So I waited.

Then nothing changed.

In fact, he might have gotten worse because now he knows better how to manipulate humans and wrap them around his paws.

I remember it was 2005, we had lived in Paris for 3 years and Larmlarm was just a bit over 3 years old then. He was WAYYYYY past the he-will-get-older-and-get-better threshold. And the funny thing is, even though he is difficult, most people who met him LOVED him, because he has a very beautiful innocent-looking face and he is so friendly to people, sometimes almost dog-like. (In fact, I suspect that’s how he got us to adopt him in the first place! Damn it!) As long as you don’t upset him, he gives you so much love you can’t resist.

I am a reader and a strong believer in ‘there is always a book in this world to solve your problem’. So I went and bought two books in the hopes of understanding LarmLarm better.


I read them in one day.

The whole ‘cat psychology’ opened my eyes to the mysterious world of the cat’s mind. I got sucked in…

I do remember thinking to myself something along the lines of ‘if only I can work with cats, like these people…’ That night, I put the book away, turned the light off to go to bed, woke up the next day, took the metro and went to my job. Just like every other day.

My life didn’t dramatically change immediately, but the idea stuck in the back of my head. ‘If only I can work with cats…’

Fast forward to 2007. I started to get bored with my job in Paris and in fact, I started to get bored with Paris altogether. And guess what happens when I get bored. I feel depressed.

Fortunately, I have a very strange way to handle depression. Instead of staying in bed feeling sorry for myself all day, I usually do what I do best, make a plan to change things. By then, I not only had Larmlarm in my life, I have also met Cat Man. (I will probably tell you the story of how cats have brought Cat Man and I together, and how Larmlarm didn’t like Cat Man at first, etc, in future posts.)

Soon enough, I got a job offer to work in Dublin, so together with Cat Man and Larmlarm, I moved to Dublin (please click here if you want to know the practical information of moving your cat using the ferry).

Fast forward to Christmas 2008, my mom suddenly appeared in Paris with her husband to visit my sister. We wanted to go see them over the New Year, but what about Larmlarm? Back in Paris, we usually asked Cat Man’s godmother (who is also a great cat lover) to come and take care of him. In Dubin, however, we didn’t know enough people yet to ask for help, so I started to look for a paid option. In 2008, there were only two major pet sitting companies in Dublin and only one of them was specialized in cats. I called and asked for a cat sitter. Turned out no one was available. I wouldn’t blame them, it’s the holiday season after all! Everyone would have planned for their getaway long ago. If they didn’t have their mom suddenly show up that is…

I thought to myself, ‘it looks like people have loads of business. Geez, I could be a cat sitter!’

As usual, I didn’t think about it…much after that.

Except I didn’t totally forget about it either…

(to be continued…How I became a cat sitter? Last part – Maow Care is born! is here)

How I became a cat sitter Part 3 – OMG my cat is evil!

How I became a cat sitter Part 3 – OMG my cat is evil!

In the last post, I told you we finally took Larmlarm home and were initially very excited about having our own cat. I would like to tell you everything worked out fine and we lived happily ever after. But no. It turns out LARMLARM IS EVIL!

Don’t get me wrong, LarmLarm is the love of my life, but he is also the most terrible person you will ever meet in your entire life!!!

Oh no no, I am not speaking as 23-year-old me, I am speaking as the ‘now-me’ after seeing hundreds of cats, he is still the most difficult cat I have encountered!

You are probably putting your hands on your hips going, ‘I am not so sure! My Muffin is pretty bad, you haven’t met my Muffin yet, you don’t know….’

Oh well, maybe I don’t know how difficult your cat is, but my Larmlarm bit some of my wedding guests and drew blood!!!

(I bet you went silent just now, good!)

Now, I will tell you another fact. Larmlarm is ‘blacklisted’ from his vet in Hong Kong, Paris, and ALSO in his current vets in Dublin. Oh yes, I said VETS because he needs to have two vets. Because one vet does house calls when he only needs to be looked at, and one vet does the heavy-duty stuff, like surgery or something. The reason being, he is so aggressive with vets that he usually trashes the whole consultation room! So we try to avoid bringing him to the clinic except if it’s really really necessary. One of his vets considered him to be ‘crazy’ (his word) and the other considered him to be ‘a bit odd’ (her words).

Since that first night we took him home, we realised he might be a difficult cat. But we didn’t know much about cats back then, so we thought all cats are difficult and he is only normal.

We were told we should put him in a cage, since he was a kitten and he would be used to being in a cage in the shelter. So we purchased a similar cage for him, as you can see in the pictures in this post and the last post. We settled him down in the cage with a litter tray, bowls and towels and went to bed.

These photos record the very first moment when we arrived home from the shelter and opened the cat carrier to introduce Larmlarm to his new home. Apologies for the poor quality of the photo but we had a first gen digital camera, what do you expect?

Soon after we went to bed and tried to sleep, he started screaming. This annoying screaming behaviour, unfortunately, never went away up to this day. He loves people, he loves to be with people at all times. Sometimes, his behaviour can be quite dog-like, so he DOES NOT WANT TO SLEEP ALONE! He just can’t sleep alone, the end. Ever since the first night, every night he sleeps with me. I have no choice or he will scream the whole place down! Oh, I know you are putting your hands on your hips again going, ‘Excuse me? I thought you are a cat behaviourist, you should have known better than to let him get away with that the very first time!’

Trust me, we did try. But he screamed until 4am! He was so loud I was worried the neighbours were going to call the cops! I had to give in. And remember the Adoption Assistant said (refer to my last post here) how he has a tiny voice? Ah-ha, no he doesn’t have a tiny voice, he has the loudest cat voice in the world (oh yes, that’s after hundreds of cats I have seen from my work.) Soon, we realized Larmlarm was pretending to be innocent and gentle at the shelter and his true evil self came to life just barely 30 minutes after we took him home!!! Oh my goodness, he conned us!!!

Since then, I have learned another thing about him. Larmlarm is a very very determined person. Once he sets his mind on something, he will make damn sure to achieve it – opening doors, waking people up, dropping my iPhone, pulling all the laundry down from the drying rack, etc. I am sure he can climb Mount Everest if he wants to (though I know he won’t want to, he is too lazy and too cowardly of a person!) He does go through phases though. When he was going through the I-must-open-the-wardrobe-at-2am-and-pull-everything-out’ phase, it was terrible. Or that other time, when he went through the I-have-to-scream-at-the–front-door-until-the-neighbours-call-the-cops phase, it was not only annoying but could have possibly got us arrested for Disturbance Of Peace!

However, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Having Larmlarm helped with my depression a great deal. He helped me in so many ways I find it difficult to put them into words. His determined personality taught me to never give up! Once you set your mind on something, such as waking the human up at 4am, you just have to do it. Since I have no intention of waking people up at 4am, I set my mind to getting better. Have I told you, regardless of his difficult personality, Larmlarm is an excellent nurse? If he knows you are not well (and he always knows!) he will sit next to you or on your chest and just stare at you, almost as if asking ‘Are you ok?’ Sometimes he would proceed to give me headrubs, hoping to help me feel better. And guess what? I did feel better afterwards!

Soon after I got Larmlarm, I started to have enough energy to straighten out my life. I realised it is utterly stupid to stay in a job I hated just because of the expectations from people around me. Plus, I have always wanted to travel, so I decided not only to quit my job but to quit my country as well! Oh yes, I decided to move to France.

I already spoke some French at that stage. So France was a natural choice for me.

You might start to be freaked out and ask ‘but what about Larmlarm?’ Obviously, without a second’s hesitation, Larmlarm had to come with me. Larmlarm is part of my life. Not only is he my nurse, he is also my saviour. In fact, he is many many things to me! He is my mentor to put me back in my place when I am arrogant; he is my constant reminder life is beautiful when I lose hope; he was my alarm clock pulling me out of bed when I was so depressed and wanted to stay in bed forever. Most importantly, he teaches me to love and to be loved unconditionally. I am sure that without him, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Before I go, I would like to share some more of Larmlarm’s baby pictures with you, enjoy!

(to be continued…How I became a cat sitter? Part 4 – Can one be a cat shrink? is here)

N.B. If you want to know the story of our journey from Hong Kong to Paris, please click here, where I share the practical information and also our experience.

How I became a cat sitter Part 2 – Larmlarm: the first love of my life

How I became a cat sitter Part 2 – Larmlarm: the first love of my life

Last week, I told you guys the story of how I was a cat hater as a teenager and later on became a cat lover in university.

The idea of having a cat never left my mind. But it wasn’t until a year and a half after I became a cat lover that I finally adopted my first cat – Larmlarm.

The year I graduated, my parents got divorced, my father remarried, his new wife moved into the house, my sister and I had to move out, I missed having my friends in the dorm around me all the time, etc. On top of that, I wasn’t happy with my boyfriend and my job (there is actually a ridiculous story about how I got a job I didn’t like but couldn’t quit, and you can read about that or any other non-cat-related stuff here). I started to have depression. I went to see a psychiatrist and took tablets but nothing changed. Considering the drastic changes happening in my life at that point, it might not have been the best time to adopt a cat. But hey, most of the good stuff in the world happens by accident, right? Plus, as I soon found out, cats are the best nurses in the world!

So my sister did some research online to find out where the closest shelter was and what we had to prepare to become a ‘cat parent’. I was too ill to do anything, so my sister did all of that.

Fortunately, there was a shelter not far from where we lived, so I could manage to go there regardless of my illness. And strangely enough, the visit to the shelter gave me a boost of energy that I didn’t have for a long time! ‘It’s so exciting to see all these cats! I get to finally have MY OWN CAT!!!!’

We went to the shelter and started looking at all the cats. We wanted a grey kitten. Of course we didn’t know a grey cat is very difficult to come by. So we started browsing and browsing, saying hi to all the cats. All of them seem to be either sleeping, eating or hiding at the back of the cage because they were too scared. Then among all these cats, was this exceptionally brave kitten who stood right at the front of the cage and started talking at my sister. ‘Oh hello you!’  – we started smiling. My sister stretched her finger out to let the kitten smell it. He backed off a little bit, not sure what to do next, thought about it for a second, then approached the finger. But he didn’t smell it, he started rubbing his head on her finger!

‘Haaaaa! Look look look! He trusts me!’

I thought about it for a second, ‘oh well….maybe he is the one then.’

‘Oh no no no, not so fast! I read on the internet that we are supposed to come back a few times to make sure he is not ill or mean or anything’.

So we spoke to the Adoption Assistant and told her we were interested in the kitten but we would come back the weekend after to check on him again.

We were so excited about the kitten, my sister started shopping for all the necessities – food bowls, litter trays, scratching post, toys, etc. I was still too ill to do anything.

The weekend after, we went back to officially sign the adoption paper. He had grown up so much and we loved him very much already!

Look at him! Don’t you think he is a cutie?

He looked so innocent. Except he wasn’t.

In fact, if you look at the last photo carefully, you will see he is plotting something…

Once we got the adoption papers signed, the Adoption Assistant took us to Larmlarm to officially take him home. When we opened the cage to let him out to the cat carrier he let out a tiny tiny ‘miaow…’ The Adoption Assistant commented, ‘oh his voice is tiny! How I wish my cats had such a tiny voice, it would make my life so much easier. You guys are so lucky to have such a quiet cat!’ At this very moment, the Cleaning Lady came over and saw that we were taking Larmlarm home. She asked, ‘Is he going?’ We all smiled (including the Adoption Assistant) and nodded. The Cleaning Lady turned around and let out a ‘YES!!!’ between her teeth. We all looked at each other and raised our eyebrows wondering ‘What the hell is wrong with this woman?’

Later on that night, we figured out why the Cleaning Lady did that.

And we learned it the hard way….

(to be continued….How I became a cat sitter Part 3 – OMG! My cat is evil! is here)