Cat Door

February 16th, 2007

Congratulations to those of you who won copies of MY DEAD GIRLFRIEND in the megcabot.com Haunted Valentine give-away. If you are one of the over 300 entrants who did not receive an email informing you that you won, do not despair–there will be lots of opportunities to win free books in the future. Just keep coming back here to this blog to check for more contests!

In other news…we installed a cat door.

You don’t understand. This was a MAJOR decision. I mean, my cat, Henrietta, is an indoor cat. I have TRIED to interest her in the great outdoors, in short, highly supervised visits.

No way. No interest. LOTS of interest in the non-diet food belonging to Slutty-McSlut-A-Lot, aka Gem, The Other Cat, which is Downstairs, a land to which Henrietta rarely ventures. Zero interest in the great outdoors.

But Gem spends about 50% of her time outside, mostly on the sidewalk, where she indulges in her hobby: rolling around adorably on her back, purring, until some unsuspecting tourist reaches down to pet her.

Then she bites him and runs away.

This is how Gem whiles away the sunny days here in Key West. In the evenings, however, after a hard day’s work of biting tourists, she retires to the living room to sit on the lap of her adopted owner, He Who Shall Not Be Named In This Blog, or curl up in her now disgustingly dirty cat bed, which she cried piteously for when we threw it away and substituted a nice clean new one (now Henrietta’s bed), so we had to dig the old one out of the trash and give it back to her.

The problem is that after HWSNBNITB goes upstairs to bed, Gem begins to feel lonely downstairs. She cannot come upstairs to sleep with her beloved, because Henrietta sits at the top of the stairs and the minute Gem puts her dirty paw on the bottom step, Henrietta begins to yowl.

This, in turn, causes Gem to begin to yowl until someone gets out of bed, goes downstairs, and lets her outside where she can indulge in her nocturnal hobby of killing things.

Guess who that someone who gets out of bed to let Gem out nearly always is: Yeah. That’d be the light sleeper in the family…me.

Naturally, it took some BIG TIME negotiation with He Who Shall Not Be Named In This Blog to get him to agree to install a cat door, due to the fact that it meant we had to cut out a section of one our doors.

But some of us were getting tired of snuggling down to bed only to hear, at around one thirty in the morning, the kind of shrieking that only a cat who is irritated because she can’t get outside to go kill things makes.

And it seemed to me as if Gem was the type of cat who could adapt well to a cat door, because she’d already learned how to open the door on her own (so long as it wasn’t locked) to let herself in and out anyway.

So we installed a cat door from Home Depot. Really, you can’t tell it wasn’t ALWAYS part of the door.

We followed the instructions, taping the cat flap open, so Gem would realize it was there, and go in and out freely.

She managed to catch onto this part quickly. It was when, after a few days of chasing flies out of the kitchen, that we lowered the flap (which is see-through) that we met with total cat door resistance.

Gem just could not grasp the fact that she could push the flap open to get in and out. If we HELD it open for her, that was fine. But she wouldn’t push it open herself.

Soon we (by which I mean, me) were right back where we started: getting up in the middle of the night. Only now it was to push the cat door open.

Finally after one such incident, I squatted down beside the door to show Gem for the hundredth time how to work the door. Only this time I physically lifted her paws and popped the door open with them.

“See?” I said to her. “You put your paws through, and the door opens.”

Well, needless to say, Gem did NOT like me touching her dirty paws. But I did it four or five more times—with her protesting lustily—until finally…it happened.

She looked up at me, then at the cat door. You could actually see the little wheels of her mind working.

“Waaaait a minute here. Are you saying that If I touch it with my paw,” she seemed to be thinking, “it will open? No way! No freaking way!”

Then she gave me one last look.

“Yes,” I said, nearly bursting with pride. “Yes! Go on!”

Then she whacked the door with her paw, and leapt through it.

Success!!! I was so proud. I can’t even tell you how cool it was to have taught an animal something—and to have actually been there at the moment she finally learned it.

I realize it’s not as cool as teachers who regularly teach children to read, or parents who teach their children to walk, or ride bikes, and all of that.

But, you know.

Now Gem’s in and out, all day—and night—long. No more yowling.

Except, of course, if I happen to be standing nearby, she still sits by the door and yowls for me to open it. But I know it’s just for old time’s sake.

Now I’m just waiting for her to start inviting all her cat friends over.

Have a good weekend.

More later.

Much love,

Meg