Post Title: The Cats with Keener Eyes Than Mine!
Cat Training – in Reverse!
In the beginning, the kittens set to training me in different ways – all gentle. Shiloh, my fluffy-tailed shy kitty, didn’t seem so timid when she sat on my keyboard and stretched out, printing all kinds of nonsense on the screen. She had two goals: to be near me, and to let me know she could use a treat – or five. That went on several times a day. She egged Rusty on as well, ganging up on me.
Finally, I counteracted this training. I put them in my room for the morning, let them out at noon and put them back in for the afternoon. They relaxed and took their catnaps like good kitties.
Rusty, Shiloh’s orange and white big-tailed sibling, took a different approach – more long range. As the “man” of the family, he seemed to feel it was his “duty” to make the night rounds with me. So, as I locked up the downstairs every night, he patrolled with me, alert, his tail strident, He looked as he took his job as my protector seriously. In retrospect, he was mind-mapping all the escape routes.
Sophie Socks, unlike the others, had only one goal in mind – training me to keep the screened-in windows open to allow the breeze to caress her slim body as she dreamed in the sun. She loved windows, and her favorite was the one at the foot of my steps. She led revolts by example. In the spring she taught the others to jump up and lie in the opening between the screen and wooden window ledge. When summer arrived and along with it, the air conditioning, down went the window panes. Sophie Socks meowed, stretched, pawed and paced until I opened the one at the bottom of the steps. The slow leak of A/C went out the window while Sophie chilled out with a pleased smile on her face.
Their training yielded results over time. Treats flowed freely, morning and afternoon naps, scarcer. Patrolling happened at all times of the day, not just at night. Then I started noticing patch marks on the screens. At first, I thought it was the outside milkweed stuck to the screen. But at closer scrutiny, I realized the unusual markings were holes instead of milkweed. The trio were sharpening their claws on the screen, creating various-shaped holes. Nevertheless, I never caught them at it.
Hatching the Plan.
The rules blurred and as spring turned to summer, the cats lounged in areas previously forbidden to them. As I watched a movie, Rusty guarded the living room door. Shiloh claimed the corner of the sofa, and Sophie Socks took to my lap before spying a window with sheers to look out of. They followed me into the basement as I gathered water from the cooler. They stalked bedroom drapes and bathroom soap dishes.
I think all these actions were to throw me off their true intent – to spy out a moment for the great cat escape! Rusty was the ringleader. But the others played their parts.
I was home alone. My brother was out visiting his girlfriend. Around 9:30 Tuesday evening, I hard-boiled two eggs. Something healthy for me to ward off the evening nibbles.
I left my apartment and headed to the downstairs garage for the recycling bin. I opened the door and tossed the empty egg carton inside. As the cardboard hit the inside of the bin, I heard the reassuring thump. But at the same time, I felt the rush of furry bodies slide between my legs, and blur of color disappear from view.
“Those rascals,” I murmured of Rusty and Shiloh. “They got out!” But I didn’t stress too much. I don’t like them out in the first garage because my brother has his collection of coffee mugs on a narrow shelf there. But they had escaped into the garage before and left the shelf alone. I didn’t want any of the cups to break, or for them to get injured from broken glass. “I’ll just open the connecting door to my garage, which is cat-proofed and their familiar playground.
I returned to my eggs, still cooking. At the appropriate time, I rinsed them, cracked the shells and ate them peppered with curry powder. Then I went to let the cats in.
I called, expecting to see the duo leap through the door to my laundry room ready for the five treats. Sophie Socks looked up from her perch in the window and seemed to know something I didn’t. She held up a paw and licked it before closing her eyes again.
I came across the proverb, “to assume a cat is asleep is a grave mistake. They can close their eyes and keep their ears awake.” Ha! She was waiting to see how I would handle her mischievous siblings.
I called Rusty and Shiloh, still expecting them to come at my bidding, as they usually did. When they didn’t and Sophie Socks opened an eye and blinked at me in a rather knowing way, I headed over to the other garage. My eyes darted to the garage door. It was OPEN! Completely OPEN! My brother had forgotten to shut it earlier in the day and I had not even noticed because I expected it to be shut.
No wonder they leaped out! They saw their chance for an evening of fun without boundaries. The eyes of the daring duo were definitely keener than my own. I could see very little due to my night blindness. Instead of running around in the dark, tripping over things, I would have to let them call the shots
This wasn’t their first escape. They had gotten out a couple of times before for short periods. I tried not to panic. Drivers did speed down to the park below my house. Constant summer traffic filled the roads. But these cats wouldn’t wander into the street (I hoped). They would miss the comforts of the familiar, the house. Soon, they would appear at the front or back door, meowing for me to let them in. Nothing to do but wait.
That lasted twenty minutes before I started calling them again. It was nearing eleven pm when sitting on the granite steps on the front porch,I saw the outline of a feline body. Rusty! I called him over. He wandered over, and I thought, one down, one to go. I picked him up and opened the door.
But he wriggled free and ran off again!
I didn’t have a flashlight and the darkness prevented me from seeing them. Frustrated, I went to bed. But, of course, sleep eluded me. Wide awake, I went down to the back door of my apartment and called. No response. Back to the house front door. Then the garage. Doors popped open but no cats popped inside.
“If anything happens to my cats, it will be your fault,” I shouted before slamming my door, feeling like a shrew. I knew he felt bad already so I didn’t need to rub it in.
Around 12:30 am, I heard my bedroom door open. Mike sounded happy. “I found Shiloh.”
But still no Rusty.
I grabbed the treat box and went down to the bottom to the steps to shake it in hopes of luring Rusty back.
Unfortunately, Shiloh darted out as I shook the box and called Rusty!
Half an hour later, my brother opened my door again, and in plopped Shiloh. “Found her in the garage,” he mumbled.
I don’t know how long it was that I heard loud knocking on the door. I had been asleep for awhile and went down to the front door in the family house. “Mike? Mike? “Miiiike?”
No answer. Spooky. The wooden door was open to the screen door. Who could it be?
With my heart beating erratically, I tentatively opened it.
Rusty ran inside.
Had a neighbor seen him? It was nearly two o’clock in the morning!
No one was at the door. I found it quite eerie and that mystery was never solved.
A half an hour later, I heard my bedroom door open one last time. Mike said, “I found Shiloh in the backyard. She’s in. Both cats are safe now. I’m headed for bed.”
What pet do you have? What funny behaviors, typical or atypical, can you share about them?
You have just read “The Cats With Keener Eyes than Mine!” by Amy L. Bovaird. © August 28 2020. All rights reserved.