When Buzz “Bob-cat” Lightyear joined us last year, I pronounced to the family, “He will be a house-cat; in fact, he will stay in my immediate area.”
This made excruciatingly good sense to me — he had four rooms to wander about in, including a bathroom perfect for his litter box and unlimited fresh commode-water to quench his thirst, plenty of second-floor windows for nature TV, and my bed, which quickly became his bed. He was also safe from Simon, who clearly had evil intent where Bob was concerned. What more could a cat want?
First it was full access to the rest of the house. In his best and most irritating Siamese-cat voice he whined incessantly at the door to the hallway. When he wasn’t begging to be set free, he was attacking me (and we’re talking SteriStrip-worthy wounds here) while I tried to work. The attacks increased in frequency and ferocity.
Soon he figured out that if he stayed quiet so I didn’t notice his presence as I was leaving the cat compound, he could zip out the door before I realized he had been lurking right behind me with escape in mind. Not to be bettered by a mere cat, I quickly learned the drill.
So did he. He could zip out the door as I was turning around to see if he was there. That way, I didn’t see him either behind me or in front of me, since he zoomed down the hall on little cat feet before I could turn back.
Fine. I decided (a bit after the fact) that Bob should be allowed the run of the house. Simon’s sister promised to train him to make nice with Bob (which she did, though Simon’s scratched bloody nose provided strong incentive), so there wasn’t much else to worry about.
Bob’s transformation was impressive. He was once again the human-loving, snuggly, dear little kitty I had rescued from the all the nasty things waiting for him in the great out of doors.
For about two weeks. Then he cranked up the Siamese-yeowl again, this time at the kitchen door.
“NO!” I said (over and over). “No, you are NOT going outside. Nothing good can happen to a cat out there, okay? You have the whole house now; the seed room, the basement, the dog to pick on, Smooch’s dish to raid … N-O. No. Absolutely not. No way. Forget it. I’m not bending on this one. NO.”
I would train him to accept that he had become a house cat; I would outlast the high-decibel pleas.
Eventually Bob twigged to the seriousness of my intent. It was time to roll out the Drastic Measures. First it was the feline version of water torture; if anyone was in the kitchen (a pretty much constant occurrence in our house), the dreaded cat-yeowl could go on for hours. He was relentless. He added table-trotting to his campaign. I chased him off. Countertops came next. I chased some more, and held firm in my commitment to transform Bob into a happy house cat.
I can’t bear to be out-maneuvered by something sporting a brain the size of a genetically-modified walnut. “NO!” I repeated until I began to sound as whiny as Bob.
It took a good week of this battle of the wits (or the witless) before Bob gave up on me and decided to take matters into his own paws. He plowed through the screen when I wasn’t looking and disappeared into the wonderful world of Disney.
At least that’s how he views it; I’m thinking more along the lines of the Creature from the Black Lagoon.
I wasn’t far off: smelly fur, ticks, bits of driveway and forest detritus clinging to him every time he reappears at the door. He stays inside for about 90 seconds before he wants out again. (Hear Garrison Keillor’s brilliant cat-song, sung to the tune of the Addams Family theme: “I wanna go out [clap-clap], I wanna come in [clap-clap], I wanna go out, I wanna come in, I wanna go out [clap-clap].”) The let-me-out yeowl has been joined by the let-me-in screech.
I thought I was tenacious, but I can barely compete. Bob, on the other hand, holds a black belt in the battle of wills.
So I look on the bright side. Now I get to lock him out of my little area at night — I refuse to sleep with a smelly, tick-infested, filthy, smug … cat. Certainly not one who is smarter than I.