Friday, May. 01, 2009
Dear Diary:

If the ability to learn how to use a cat door is a test of feline intelligence then, uh … oh man, how do I put this politely?

Well, if a cat door is an impromptu IQ test, then 2/3 of the cats living here would be taking the short bus to school, if you catch my drift.

It seems as if I've spent pretty much all my adult life being a doorman to cats. They never go out simultaneously, they never come in in a pack.

Living in the boonies as we do, a cat door leading directly into the house was an impossibility, unless we wanted to co-habit with raccoons, squirrels and skunks, all rural critters known to use cat doors.

Yes, a squirrel can use a cat door. A squirrel.

My cats? Not so much.

We installed a cat door on the porch of the house because if a critter came in there the damage would be limited. We use the porch a lot in the warm weather and the cats like to hang with us. The cat door seemed like the perfect way to let them come and go from the porch at will.

These things always seem like such a good idea at the time.

As the spousal unit installed the door, we bet each other as to which cat would take to the door most quickly. The spousal unit put his money on Binky aka Mr. Evil, since he pretty much charges at everything.

I put my money on our scaredy cat, Enid, who spends most of her life fretting about when Mr. Evil will materialize and throw a random beat down on her.

So the spousal unit installed the cat door which came with a frosted plastic door, allowing the cats to see through it and realize that the porch was on the other side. We kind of hoped that would be clue enough to them that, hey, instant route into the porch right this way.

Not.

So we adapted. We flipped the door up and called them through. Gingerly the cats would come up to the open hole, sniff it, and refuse to cross through.

Fine.

More coaxing. Eventually the cats all learned to come through as long as we were holding the door up. The flaw here would be that we (meaning I) were still cat door men. Fine.

My next cunning plan was to buy a tiny container of the treats the cats adore. I would sit in the porch in front of the cat door allowing the delicious, delicious scent of cat treats to waft through the air.

My thought here was to lure the cats through the door with a bribe. The cats raced to the deck the minute the treats container was open and the first atoms of treat scent hit the air. They milled feverishly in front of the cat door yelling about their need to eat the delicious, delicious treats. Would any of them actually use the cat door?

No, no they would not.

So I opened the door a tiny crack, waved the bitty chunk o' treat goodness in the gap and eventually each cat grudgingly came through the door. This took a frustratingly long time and far more coaxing than I want to admit.

Crap.

Eventually, in frustration, someone—and I'm not naming names here, but the first initial is "M"—someone starting grabbing cats and shoving them through the cat door in the hopes that it would, uh, encourage progress.

It did not. If anything, the cats actually avoided coming in proximity with the cat door because if they did some crazed human— and I'm not naming names here, but the first initial is "M"—would grab them and randomly shove them either in or out of the porch through the cat door, depending on which side they started out on.

Tender feline feelings were bruised by the unjustness of this situation.

Well, I pretty much decided that The Great Cat Door Experiment of 2009 was a bust. Live and learn and all that.

We have had an unseasonably warm and wonderful spring, so I've spent my break times on the porch sipping my tea and just savouring the sight and smell of this year's daffodil crop. To my amazement, I heard a rustling sound by the cat door. Through the frosted plastic I could see Eeny's face.

With great determination, she pushed open the door and oozed into the porch. Ooze would be the operative word here, because Enid is, uh, to be politically correct about it, a big beautiful cat. She can just make it through the opening, and there doesn't appear to be anything to spare.

But make it through she does.

Eeny has always loved the porch. There are squishy lawn chairs to sleep on. She has all the benefits of being outside without actually having to go, you know, outside. And I'm thinking that somehow she realized that as long as no one else was willing to use the cat door, she would be safe in there.

No random, senseless drive-by beatdowns by Mr. Evil, who is intimidated by the cat door.

It's great that I have cut my doorman responsibilities by 1/3, but even that comes with a price.

When she's awake Eeny likes to survey the world from the safety of the porch. The only place on the porch high enough to do this would be the table. The table we eat upon.

So Eeny likes to park her butt there. Sigh.

Now that she can come in and out of the porch at will, she materializes quite quickly on the table. Last night she did it right after I'd set the table for supper, when I was off in the kitchen making a salad. Fortunately, she squats on the Spousal Unit's side of the table, so if she does happen to accidentally park her butt on a plate, it would be his plate.

This being the case, my attitude is no harm, no foul. The spousal unit tends to take it a bit more personally.

Well since she does not squat on my plate, it is alrightThis was the scene last night before we sat down for supper. Something in the daffodil meadow had caught Eeny's eye.

"Do you think she sat on my plate?" the spousal unit asked, with more than a little exasperation. Clearly tired and hungry, all he wanted to do was sit down and eat the grilled chicken burger I'd just finished BBQ-ing. Exchanging the plate for a new one was clearly an exhausting prospect.

I told him I doubted she had, so he grabbed a burger and some salad and began chowing down. I waited until his mouth was full of food.

"Of course her tail, which has been who knows where, probably brushed your plate," I opined.

I waited for a few heartbeats, giving him time to marinade in the image.

"Many times, I'm guessing."

I've said it before, I'll say it again. I am that man's cross to bear.

--Marn

Mileage on the Marnometer: 138 miles.

Going Nowhere Collaboration

Goal for 2008: 500 miles


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