Ever have one of those Douglas Adams kinda mornings where you wake up with a word wandering through your mind “in search of something to connect with?”
It’s strangely appropriate that yesterday morning, that word for me was “furry.” For a while as I came to consciousness, that word kept going through my head–accompanied by a very pleasant soft furry sensation beside me in bed. Like the word “bulldozer” did for Arthur Dent in the classic book, the word/sensation “furry” wandered through my mind for a while, soon accompanied by “soft” and “warm.” A long, soft, warm, furry form was tucked under the covers with me, dozing and happy, and slowly the form and its meaning began to take shape. As I ran my hand over the form, a loud purr simmered up from it. I’m not sure how long I drowsed there, content and happy in the now of wolf-thought, as Wendy Pini called it long ago.
I was just beginning to wonder what could unite all of these disparate words in my mind when the source of them all nipped me on the hand.
Instantly awake, I thought, “Oh! Okay, that’s Bumble.”
In that last post, I mentioned how Bumble and Mr. Captain were locked in a battle of wits all evening long. Today you’ll hear the story of that battle, who won (for now!), and how. A few folks were wondering, so here we are!
Human versus feline. Place your bets now….
The Problem, Such As It Is.
Bumble is a resplendently healthy beast, possibly the biggest and strongest pound-for-pound cat I’ve ever encountered–and smart as hell. (Let’s all just spend a moment here feeling relieved that he doesn’t possess opposable thumbs of his own.) He loves jumping–but there’s one place he likes to jump to that is very unsafe: the top of the door in the bedroom.
Oh he loves it.
That excitement soon turns to distress and then outright fear when he realizes that it’s a long, long way down again. I don’t think he ever gets as far as “how to get down from here” when he jumps up there, and he’s been pretty lucky so far to be doing so when humans are around to (eventually) hear him crying out for help.
So overall, we really don’t want him doing it.
When you want to get a cat to stop doing something, about the only thing that seems to work is making the cat not want to do it in the first place. There are a variety of ways to do that, but the main one is to make the undesired behavior seem really unappealing.
In this case, there are two pieces of furniture near the door: an end table and a tall bureau. Mr. Captain’s efforts focused on making it difficult to jump up on the doorframe from those two vantage points.
Stage 1: Books.
We started by just pushing books against the bedroom door to push it as flush against the back wall as possible. We were trying to make the top of the door look a little less like a landing strip.
Whatever we thought we were accomplishing, this was a laughably ineffective solution. Bumble continued to launch himself off of my bedside table to the bureau, and from there straight up to the top of the doorframe.
Yes, that’s about 6′.
Stage 2: More Books.
Mr. Captain balanced lots of heavy books on the bedside table, standing them carefully on their sides, to stop Bumble from launching from there. He also put a lot of junk on the bureau to make jumping on it look really chancy.
In response, Bumble began jumping straight from the table to the doorframe, which is an even greater distance. And if he felt like he needed more room, he was more than strong enough to just knock the books down first.
This stage did not last long.
It’s a good thing he is so incredibly sweet. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that one creature can cause as much destruction as he does. The morning I wrote that review post, I woke up to a lot of crashing in the kitchen; he and his sister had knocked down a large bag of egg noodles from the pantry (which they’d worked open), torn the bag open, and scattered noodles everywhere. He got totally offended when I cleaned it up.
Stage 3: Shit Gets Real.
Having lost the previous sortie with the books, Mr. Captain up-ended a small trash can and a box on the doorframe, each balanced like a bucket of water in one of those old-timey cartoons (warning: TVTropes). The idea was to make the top of the door look too cluttered for Bumble to want to risk getting up there–without actually putting anything dangerous in his way in case he did risk it.
Unfortunately, Bumble figured out quickly that the stuff up there didn’t have any weight to it. He just knocked the clutter down with a swipe of his paw as he jumped up onto the door. I watched him do it. He stared at the stuff like “Huh, that’s neat,” as it all fell.
It’s worth mentioning that recent studies indicate that cats understand physics–but most well-ensorcelled cat owners already know that.
Stage 4: Shit Gets Really Real.
“Cas, come look!” called Mr. Captain. I stopped writing (again) to see what he’d done.
He had nailed up a thick, neon-pink bath-towel to cover the top of the doorframe all the way up to the ceiling. It covered the top of the door and the wall all around, almost like a mosquito net around a bed. If you’re wondering why there are no photos of it, well… you probably shouldn’t.
Bumble took this attempt as a personal challenge–and clearly thought that the towel was put there specifically to goad him, because he immediately ripped the whole thing down. Literally. It lasted about five minutes tops, which was probably the length of time it took him to work out what Mr. Captain had done. Hopefully we’ll eventually find all the nails. (This happened right when I mentioned the battle of wits in the blog post.)
Stage 5: Oh Really.
Mr. Captain nailed a flattened cardboard box to the top of the doorframe. He was so impressed with himself that he called me in once again to view his handiwork. I was duly very impressed and took photos.
Those photos are the only evidence that this step existed because Bumble immediately clawed the whole thing down, tore through the tape at the bottom, and probably laughed a triumphant-but-evil kitty laugh afterward.
Stage 6: Maybe.
Refining his previous idea, Mr. Captain has completely shrink-wrapped our door by covering the box edges with tape. There is no longer a doorframe visible to the naked eye. The box and door have become one like Maximilian and the weird scientist dude in The Black Hole. It’ll take a military operation to get that door free.
And now things are quiet.
This Is Not Over.
I know better than to feel complacent. Just as my day began with Bumble, it ended with him–still looking up at that door, still scheming, still plotting, his ear quirked to one side, his forehead furrowed, and his tail lashing.
And the word “soon” is now wandering through my mind in search of something to connect with.
As you can guess, the movie we just watched, God’s Club, received very divided reviews–and so did the latest botch in Christian-movie-land, Ben-Hur. There’s a reason for that polarization, of course, and we’ll explore that reason next time. See you then!