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SHANE BROWN: Working from home is like being in the tiger pit at Joe Exotic's house

SHANE BROWN: Working from home is like being in the tiger pit at Joe Exotic's house

Isolation Diary, Week 3. Or maybe Week 19. I'm honestly not sure. Time has lost all meaning. The other night I went to bed at 5 a.m. and woke up at noon. At Castle Shane, there are no rules. I sleep when I'm tired. I eat when I'm hungry. I haven't stepped outdoors in four days. I think. Welcome to my new normal.

To anyone concerned about my welfare flying solo at home for the foreseeable future, no worries. I have loads of company — they're just not human. Thankfully, my cats are unaware what's going on in the world, and I'm not sure they'd care even if they knew. They're far too busy doing what they want to do. And what they want to do most is kill each other.

Is this the kind of nonsense that goes on EVERY day when I'm at the office? I was living under the assumption that my cats for the most part tolerated one other. Boy, was I wrong. As you may know from my previous ramblings, I have three feline roommates. Two are the elderly gals I've raised since kittendom. The third is a young vagrant I took in last year after months of well-practiced sad eyes at my back door. Each of them feels strongly that this is THEIR house and the rest of us are uninvited interlopers.

Co-habitation was a bit of a struggle at first. New Cat (whose true Jellicle name shall never be revealed by me) was used to a life of opportunistic meals before suckering me into room and board, so she'll eat absolutely anything and everything I leave out for ANY cats or humans. This also includes any form of shiny cat toy, which she will disembowel and consume in its entirety. And yes, this was a skill set I only became aware of after finding a litter box full of glitter and tinsel. Cats are magical.

After a few really intense food fights and some meet-and-greets of varying degrees of success, I thought our house had eventually settled from a war zone into a state of at least resigned acceptance. I'd come home from work to find cats peacefully sleeping in separate rooms, each in their own territories and seemingly tolerant of one another. Over the past three weeks, though, I've realized the only reason I find them asleep when I come home is because they're exhausted from spending all day trying to kill one another when I'm gone.

It happens like clockwork. Every morning, just around 10 a.m., old Bez (the alpha of my house) gets off the couch, stretches, saunters into the kitchen, and lays down directly in front of New Cat's food bowl, hissing every time the other comes round to eat. She's not protecting what she thinks is HER food — she eats completely different food from a completely different bowl. Bez is a thinker, and I'm pretty sure she's just playing the long game of trying to starve the new cat into non-existence. I may live with a depraved wannabe murderer.

In the afternoon, all three cats will take up different spots on the sectional while I try my best to work from home. New Cat is big on cuddles, so she usually won't leave my side. Except, that is, for the other day — when she randomly sat up, gave me an adorable meow, and suddenly ninja jumped across half the couch, landing square on sleeping Bez and pinning her in a move the WWE would be jealous of. Suddenly, both cats were making noises I didn't even know cats were capable of. Let's just say they weren't pleasantries.

Normally this would only be moderately alarming. However, I WAS ON THE PHONE WITH A CLIENT at the time, trying to talk advertising strategies while it suddenly sounded like I was in the tiger pit at Joe Exotic's house.

Working from home just altogether confounds the cats. Usually when I'm lounging on the couch, it's time for attention and skritches. In THEIR minds, the fact that I'm typing away on a laptop computer and talking to advertisers shouldn't alter those plans in the SLIGHTEST. I can't go 10 minutes without a curious meow, a complaint meow, or yesterday when Bez just sauntered up and batted my laptop shut on my hands as a less-than-subtle hint that no computer shall ever replace her as the alpha. My new bosses are CONSTANTLY up in my business, hovering around my workspace, and micromanaging every thing I do.

Earlier today, I decided to reach out to some of our advertisers struggling in this crisis. I was half a sentence into the e-mail when I decided to take a brief pause for a coffee refill from the kitchen. I returned to the living room to find New Cat comfortably curled up ON the keyboard -- and somehow, she had managed to hit send. THAT is why one of my favorite advertisers got an urgent message from me today that read, and I quote, "Good morning! I hope this e-mail finds you fzzzzzkweddl"

So that's where things stand — or, more accurately, that's where things lie sprawled out on the couch. I wish I had the answers, I wish I had a miracle to erase this spring and demand a do-over. I'm just like you — stuck at home and hoping for the very best. We're going to get through this, come hell or high water — and we're all pretty experienced at handling high water. Until then, please know that myself, Bez, Isobel, and New Cat wish you all a very good morning, and we hope this column finds you as fzzzzzkweddl as possible.

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