Saturday, November 21, 2009


My next door neighbor is the local mail carrier. Last week, he came to my door with a package I had to sign for. While I was doing so, he mentioned that he had taken some photos of my cats visiting his yard:

"I got this great shot of the grey one--she climbed a tree and sat on the birdhouse there while she watched the bear prowling around."

This is why my cats do not go outside unless it is A) during the day and B) I am at home. Since I work five days a week, and the days have naturally shortened, this limits the opportunities for a feline saunter in the New Hampshire woods. The cats are certainly aware of this, and they make their collective protests felt every morning I walk out the door and every night I return home again.

Worry not, the cat population is no where near bored.

The focal point of their interest and attention has shifted to the centerpiece on the coffee table in the living room. There are many unique and interesting elements to this self-created attempt at decorative art--sand, a bowl of water with floating candles, rocks, fake leaves and berries--it is almost too much for a cat without anything to do for eight hours five days a week.

When this became apparent to me, I attempted to ensure that the resulting mess didn't reoccur. However, I've discovered that the different ways I've addressed this issue have been approached as puzzles for the cat collective to work around.

The L.L. Bean Box:
Destroyed. Multiple sittings bowed the flaps adhered down the center of the back to the point that a few claw-sharpenings and tooth-applied shreddings later, the flaps were free from their adhesive, and they were raised in order to allow access to the coveted bowl of water.

The J. Crew Box:
I just rotated this replacement out. When I first looked the box over, I thought "there is no way they'll be able to pull this apart." I was wrong--entirely. First, they pulled apart a corner so a little borrowing would lift it just enough over a cat-sized body to get at the water. After taping that up again, they resumed their original approach to the previous box, with the same result.

The Milk Crate
When the crate fit perfectly over the square plate of decorative sand upon which the bowl of candles rests, I thought I had finally found the answer. I placed a set of books on top of it to make sure no one could shift it. Later, I discovered the evidence of an attempt at the bowl--sand was all over the table--cat paws fit comfortably through the grate in the crate, and pawfuls of sand had been scooped out and distributed on the table surface. I am sure it is only a matter of time before this method also is retired.

I can't blame them--classes were created around the Rubik's Cube puzzle. And, I'm sure the participants were equally without amusement.