06 May 2016

Perhaps I need a CAT Scan!

By Dixon Hill

First, I'd like to thank all the well-wishers from my last post about our new house.  Sorry I didn't manage to fit any replies into the comments, but I've been a bit busy moving a family-worth of belongings from an apartment and two storerooms into a house.  And, yes, Leigh, fellow SleuthSayers would always be welcome, though you might prefer a different room as the office won't have a bathroom.

The late Lilian Jackson Braun
I've been thinking of Lilian Jackson Braun's wonderful Cat Who mystery series lately.  Not because I've been delving back into those books with Jim Qwilleran, Yum Yum and Koko, but rather because I've been battling our own four cats.  (I know: FOUR CATS!  It's a long story for another time.)

You see, aside from just moving (and trying to get items out of boxes and into sensible locations), I've been working to get a gas dryer hookup to not leak gas all over the place, getting a handle on a swimming pool that the previous owner seems to have treated rather cavalierly, and installing a cat door.

I've got somebody coming out, later this afternoon, to fix that dryer leak and turn the gas back on for it.  And, I've managed to wrestle the pool into a pristine swim environment.  But, that cat door ...

This cat door is for "Big Cats," which does not mean mountain lions, or wildcats.  Instead, it is a cat door designed to provide egress for house cats similar to my youngest son's cat, James Bond Jr. -- a big cat who's also "a big girl," as my wife is apt to intentionally misquote at the cat, from the film Lars and the Real Girl (i.e.: "You're a big girl, James.  A big, big girl.").

James may be female, but this cat is big-boned, large-framed and beefy (and not light when she sits on you!).  In short, I believe she's ready to defend her rights to James Bond's name (though her build would make her a better villain, in my opinion -- particularly if she were to hold and pet a Lilliputian human).

The only problem is, neither she nor any of the other cats will go through the cat door.

They were very happy to go in and out through the HOLE in our kitchen door, the night I cut it out.  But, once I installed the cat door, they immediately refused to go through it ...  unless one of us held it open for them!

And, it's not a matter of education.  We've gently pushed each cat through the thing -- both in and out -- and all went well (except for a little struggling on their parts).  So, they must know how it works.

The photo on the right shows the type of cat door I installed.  Not a single one of our cats will use it, unless we push the little see-through flap open for them.  They just crouch there, looking in at us through the flap, until somebody reaches down and opens it.  Then -- POP! -- the cat hops through.

This morning, at 3:00 o'clock, my wife opened the cat door for one of our cats to come in, only to discover a quick-formed line behind her, of three cats heading out.  And they didn't even thank her for holding the door for them!

My theory is that we should ignore the problem.  The cats' commode is out in the laundry room so I claim that nature will drive them to the right solution.  My wife's response is: if we ignore them, they may decide to designate a NEW commode location, on the carpet somewhere.  This is something we'd like to avoid.

Ah, how I long for the simple issues of Jim Qwilleran and his two Siamese, with their turkey roaster cat box, and no going outside for any cats!  And, well a dead body or two.

Once I manage to empty all these boxes, and find the one with those Cat Who books in it, I'll have to sit down and get lost in them all over again.

My cats will have to wait until I reach a chapter conclusion, before I open the cat door for them.

See you in two weeks!


  1. Ah, pet doors. We never dared have one here because they do work both ways and one can acquire a lot of visiting wildlife.

    My son and I put one in in Chicago and lacking the proper tool had to drill holes all the way around to knock out the wood. Trust you have the right equipment.

  2. Oh, no! I've told my wife before that we should get one of these for the door to the laundry room (where the litter box is) but sounds like there's trouble ahead....

    On the way out the other day, our four-year-old son made a comment about not letting the cats out of the house (they are indeed indoor cats) and then added, "Because cats don't like being on a leash." This is true too. We've tried it.


  3. I haven’t read the Cat Who series, but I bought some for my aunt who loved both cats and mysteries. Come to think of it, she had four of those furry sociopaths too. Well, three sociopaths and one outright psychopath, the male of course.

    The one black cat detested the litter box. She would stand on the edge of the cat pan so her dainty paws wouldn’t touch anything inside. My aunt claimed the cat covered her nostrils when she went, but that’s probably an exaggeration. Maybe.

    That cat also hated to be touched and refused to allow her velociraptor-size claws to be trimmed. After she’d destroyed a couple of pieces of furniture, I took it upon myself to capture her in 13 towels and a quilt and trim her scimitar blades. She hissed and fought and bit… but her claws got trimmed. She pouted for a few hours and then decided she quite liked short nails. After that, she became MY cat.

  4. Sometimes people train the cat, sometimes the cat trains people. I think that's what we're seeing here.

  5. Art, I never had much luck with cats on leashes either, but my ex was bound and determined to take our cat everywhere when we drove on trips. So he taught it to at least walk around on its own, dragging the leash behind it. This allowed my ex to leap over and slap a foot down over the end of the leash if the cat decided to take off. At least, that was his plan. So we camped, and picnicked, and this cat wandered around dragging a leash and looking at things. One day we went to a wild animal park, and the cat spent the entire time under the seat (which was good, as it turns out pets were not allowed, which we did not realize; this was something like 30 years ago when we were young and stupid). Anyway, in the course of driving through the park, a mountain lion rubbed the scent glands of its chin on our bumper. We thought that was cool, but no more about it. That night, in camp, our cat was wandering around dragging his leash and slowly sniffing around the vehicle. Then he lifted his nose and began to sniff deeply in the vicinity of that bumper. Then he stepped closer and stood on his back feet and really sniffed. Instant cat bottlebrush. He leaped high into the air with all four feet out to the sides, then vanished into the vehicle interior (door left standing open) faster than we'd ever seen him move. He dove under the seat again and did not come out until the next morning. I guess even though he didn't SEE the mountain lion, he had a pretty darned good idea of what had been there. And my ex learned he was actually not able to catch the end of the least fast enough to stop a runaway cat in an emergency. The cat, I should add, continued to travel with us anyway. :-)

  6. Janice, you may think I've got it all wired tight, but the blade kept being snatched out the teeth of my ultra-cheap jigsaw as I cut through the metal door for the hole. LOL

    Art, I understand Hoodini studied cats escaping harnesses to learn how to do his tricks. JK, but he sure could have! Our cats are ecstatic about being permitted outside again, to tell you the truth. And I have to admit that an oddly primal feeling arises within me, when I smoke my cigar on the patio and watch one or more of our cats standing in the twilight, wind blowing their fur as they gaze into the distance as if seeing phantasms beyond human kin.

    Leigh, I found the difference between the first book or two of the Cat Who series, and the rest (in which the protagonist has inherited a fairly large fortune, and is forced to move to an oddly eccentric "county" to keep the money) to be both surprising and oddly pleasant -- as well as a bit, well, shocking quite frankly. At least to me. In those later books, I love the humor of the Cat Who series. And I suspect that's why I read the books. That, and the fact that I always suspected LJB was secretly letting us in on some of the zanies in her own neck of the South Carolina coastal area where I believe she spent quite a bit of her time.

    Anon #1: I quite agree with you!

    Anon #2: I believe I knew your ex-husband. I think I used to call him my brother-in-law. And, if that's the case, then the monster cat Leigh was describing has got nothing on THAT cat of yours! Which makes that story all the funnier.

  7. Guilty as charged on the family ties, Dixon. LOL


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