Roxanne Tellier: Cats, Cabin Fever, and Coping


We’re deep into it now, we Canadians, the meat and potatoes of winter. There’s snow everywhere, the winds are howling, and you risk frostbite every time you peep outside the door to see if the stalactites hanging from the eaves have killed the postman yet. Or if the sidewalk ice got to him first.

dog and ice

I can usually avoid outdoor activities during the worst of winter. I can hunker down and read or write, do research or just putt about trying to sort through chickenlivingthe detritus of my life,  singing snatches of the songs in my head while my evil cat familiars yowl along .   

But most people have to deal with the cold, terrible transit conditions or commuting, working alongside other people who wish they were somewhere warm sipping Pina Coladas, while an incessant stream of bad and worse news bombards them from the main stream or social media.

Last week was particularly cruel. Temperatures plummeted, tempers soared. Even I had to leave the house every day. But I have a secret weapon; everything I do and see reminds me of songs.  The soundtrack of my life takes me through whatever comes my way. Like this week, for instance. Take off your coat, pick up my note, and put another coffee on …

On Monday I had a rehearsal with my duo partner. We have a little infrequent gig, entertaining seniors. It’s fun and rewarding. We do a mix of tunes that range from jazz standards to rock classics, mixed in with a few silly duets to make the audience and ourselves smile. David and I can be proper hambones when the mood strikes us.

And rehearsing took my mind off a feline dilemma I’d been struggling with for several weeks. Cabin fever’s not just for humans; Lord Farlsworth and Lady Jade go stir crazy as well. Most of the time, they’ll just overeat grumpy snowman catwhile the Lord teases and torments the Lady, but sometimes a pissed off cat has no alternative but to … well, piss on. We’d had several incidents of bed-wetting, and we knew it wasn’t down to the two-legged creatures in the house. We hadn’t caught the offender in the act, but all evidence pointed to Lady Jade having had enough of being used as a living cat toy.   

A friend suggested that a kitty vacation might be in order; he’d foster the culprit to give her a break, and himself some company. If all went well, she would stay with him, and I could visit them both regularly.

So, on Tuesday, I sadly packed up all of Lady Jade’s toys and dishes, along with her bed and other necessities. When we arrived at her new home, she was traumatized and frozen in fear. When I lifted her out of her carry case, she made a mad dash under the sofa. And that was the last we saw of her … for three days.

Wednesday was a bright, cold day, and I was off early to do the seniors gig. It was their Valentine’s Day party, and more than the chairs were rocking! The audience were in fine spirits – some nursed rum and cokes, while others sipped wine. Many of the residents were Italian, so it was a great chance to dust off a few Dean Martin classics.

After an hour’s trip down a musical Memory Lane, and a rousing version of “The Birdy Dance” complete with audience participation, we were outta there.

Back home, I’d missed a few emails. Lady Jade had indeed gone to ground. She’d not been seen, and hadn’t touched the food or water left for her. No footprints marked her litter box. This was getting worrisome.

I had to leave the house again on Thursday for a doctor’s appointment. It was frigidly cold, and the wind howled, but appointments and errands were accomplished.

satan cat2I was making dinner when my husband called me to the bedroom. The bed wetter had struck again! Lord Farlsworth, the Machiavellian, evilest step-brother since Nero, had set up Lady Jade to take the fall for the urinary indiscretions.

There were yet more frantic emails and phone calls. Jade had now not been seen nor heard for the last 48 hours. I was beyond distraught – and feeling incredibly guilty. I had to rescue my poor, maligned moggy!

So on Friday, my mission was to bring her home. But – cats being sensitive creatures, and half-Siamese cats being a tad insane – she would not make that easy.

The search went on for hours. We combed all three floors, probing into every nook and cranny, every cupboard shelf, and under every piece of furniture. I ghost cat2have never known, nor wanted to know, another person’s house quite so intimately. But there wasn’t a peep, not a sly paw fall … Jade was truly a ghost cat. Unseen and unheard for three days, she’d simply disappeared.  

A search for ideas on the internet revealed that frightened cats could conceal themselves for up to 35 days, if they chose to do so. I was beginning to despair.

I grabbed the flashlight for one last search in the basement. And as I pushed dusty bags and boxes aside, I heard a small sound.

cat stuck

I’d found her! Now all I had to do was get her out without hurting either of us. With a combination of cat treats and much soft-voiced coaxing, she was finally freed.


Well, that was an awkward ride home.

But eventually, after much petting, apologies, and promises that she would never again be falsely accused, and of course, a dish of tuna, she began to relax.

BlackGothCatBut there’d be some changes made. This jaunt, and the subsequent return home, had turned timid Jade into a new woman – er, cat. Rather than put up with the Lord’s aggressiveness, she stood up to him, and bopped him before he could bop her. And when it came to feeding arrangements, there was a new sheriff in town – she took over the top spot and relegated the evil Lord to the floor. And he didn’t so much as raise a pointed ear at the new queen’s attitude.

She’d not made a sound for three days, but now gave voice to that singular Siamese tone … often, and especially around 4 a.m., when no creature was stirring, not even a mouse. Once she started talking again, there was no shutting her up.

With all of the week’s stress, I almost forgot that Saturday was Valentine’s Day. But my patient and long-suffering husband did not, and we enjoyed a trip to a nearby restaurant, praying that the car would start again after dinner, despite the extreme cold.

groundhog bribeBy 4 a.m. this morning, Queen Jade was prowling the halls and loudly demanding tuna, and the chastened Lord was alternating between snuggling up to me and biting my neck and head. It’s bloody cold, I can’t afford a vacation in the sun, and I can’t find a groundhog who’ll take a bribe.

Another winter week has ended as it began. I’m still typing, smoking, and drinking too much coffee. My world has been slightly tipped on its axis by a little black cat with Canadian Cabin Fever.   Queen Jade stalks the halls with new found authority, but the beds are covered with pee-proof tarps. There are still cold days to come, but at least the soundtrack that wraps itself around my days will keep me warm until Spring returns … whenever that might be.    



Roxanne’s column appears here every Sunday 

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DBAWIS ButtonRoxanne Tellier has been singing since she was 10 months old … no, really. Not like she’s telling anyone else how to live their lives, because she’s not judgmental, and most 10 month olds need a little more time to figure out how to hold a microphone. She has also been a vocalist with many acts, including Tangents, Lady, Performer, Mambo Jimi, and Delta Tango. In 2013 she co-hosted Bob Segarini’s podcast, The Bobcast, and, along with Bobert, will continue to seek out and destroy the people who cancelled ‘Bunheads’.

The Bobcast


3 Responses to “Roxanne Tellier: Cats, Cabin Fever, and Coping”

  1. ….and that’s another reason I don’t have cats. They’re too smart. Although I am a cat lover — have had several as pets, my favourite passing at the tender age of, yes, 22 — the last cat, which was also part siamese, was the last. Bringing a new baby into the household, a maie baby at that, was the last straw for this crazy cat called Fred. Fred’s territory had been invaded and in no uncertain terms, he let us know. It finally came down to it….the major turning point…the last straw…. “marking” the entire couch (and yes Fred was fixed). It was either me and the baby….or Fred! My poor husband had to decide and do the dirty deed. I’m sorry to say Fred went right off the deep-end after we found a new home for him. My love for cats has remained….except “no Siamese if you please”. I also have two sons living with me who seem to prefer the comforts my home — they’re all the “pets” I need at the moment 😉

    • I was torn in half to think that my poor kitty was so traumatized. Broke my heart. Clearly she’s a one family cat, and so .. we’ll just all have to get along.
      Cat people – they’ll never learn … 😉
      “Love heightens all senses – except the common.” — Mark Twain

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