Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Hangin' Out In Hooligan Habitat

I was putting the raisin bran away in the oven this morning when I started thinking about the ways I have changed how I live because of the Hooligans. Well, take the raisin bran in the oven. About half of my kitchen cupboards have no doors. And the ones with doors are not as tall as the raisin bran box. Except for the cupboard that the mice get in; that one I keep no food in. And the thing is, Merry and Pippin like raisin bran. And are very, very smart. If they can get to it, they will get in it. Therefore, I keep a box of raisin bran in my oven.

They also will get into any garbage that smells good to them. This ranges from crab shells and salmon skin and chicken bones to the bag the walnuts came in. Meat wrappers. Melon rinds. Tin cans. Candy wrappers. Ice cream cartons. Tuna pouches. The container of any new food that comes into the house may end up on the list. I used to keep the more obviously attractive garbage in the freezer until garbage day, because I didn't want it smelling up my kitchen and if I put it out I risked bears breaking into the can and spreading garbage from one end of the block to the other. But, in those days I didn't have to hide so many things -- just the things that could attract a bear. The Hooligans are much worse than bears. So, I have a plastic cat litter pail with a tight fitting lid that is the cat garbage.

Food is always an issue; they love so many different things. I have the baggers at the grocery store trained to recognize what my boys will eat and to pack all of that in as few bags as possible. The stuff that goes in the refrigerator gets unloaded first, but while that is happening the other cat bait is under the kitchen sink or in the oven or locked out on the porch. If I don't, I will find that they have eaten the corner off the loaf of bread. Once I turned my back and they bit into the bottom of the carton of chicken stock and I had it all over my newly mopped floor. Last Saturday, I stopped ever so briefly to talk to my landlady while the Care-A-Van driver took up my groceries, and by the time I got up stairs they had a fried chicken thigh that I had intended for lunch in the middle of the living room floor, chomping and growling at each other to beat the band.

I used to keep my butter dish on a shelf in the kitchen. Missy never tried to get into it. Pippin knocked it onto the floor, breaking two cut glass bowls in the process, and had eaten the corner of the butter by the time I got to him. So, now that lives in the microwave. Along with varied items that I need to hide from them. In order to use the microwave for its intended purpose, first I have to unload it and hide the contents somewhere.

These creatures will even tear open a bag of cat litter, which means I also have to have containers with tight lids for that. Pippin eats canned food (he's prone to feline urinary disease and can't eat dried food), which he can't open by himself yet, so I can leave it on a shelf in reach. But, Merry get the runs if he eats canned food and so I have to get him dry. I could leave an open box of cat food next to Missy's dish, and she would leave it alone. I could fill her dish and she would eat out of it when she got hungry. Not these guys. If I leave food in the dish, they eat it until they pop. (And if it's dry, Pippin will get sick and if it's wet Merry will get messy.) When I left the food in its original packaging, they ripped into it. I hid it under the sink in the bathroom, and they managed to get the door open. I bought a huge Rubber Maid pitcher and put it in there, and they pulled that out from under the sink and got the top off. I put it in a six and a half gallon popcorn can, and Pippin figured out how to open that. So, now it is in the popcorn can, in the mouse cupboard.

I used to have flowers in the apartment. No longer. Pippin bites the flowers off. I would come home from work and find stems strewn about the living room -- and the flowers floating in the toilet. I didn't know if they would clog the plumbing if I flushed them. It might be a pleasant change for the plumber to find carnations and daisies and roses in the pipes, but I was never getting to enjoy them myself.

I used to have a house plant. I can't say any more about that, it will make me cry. At any rate, no plants. No flowers.

Fritos are my best friend. When I need to cook or eat something that would attract them, I throw a few Fritos onto the front porch, they run out, and I close them in.*

Once upon a time I had a lovely clock radio in my bedroom. I would listen to tapes of the ocean or waterfalls as I fell asleep. But, the controls were all on the top. And the Hooligans would walk on them. That was bad enough when they turned the radio on. But, sometimes they set the alarm. I would be sitting at my computer, they would be laying peacefully on the floor within sight, and the clock radio would go off loud enough to wake the dead, always on some terrible station I would never turn to.**

Because of them, I keep electrical wires covered with flex tube. Otherwise, they will bite right through them. My vet says some cats really like the feel of the jolt that gives them. These wires, by the way, were not plugged in when the damage was done. Or we would have had fried cat. And you know that nest of wires under your computer desk? Well, mine are all closed off behind a cardboard barrier. So classy looking.

A pile of books or magazines, since the covers are slick, will end up on the floor because they climb up on it and jump off. My favorite thing of all is not being able to keep out multiple reading sources without standing guard. I really like to have one fiction and one non-fiction book within reach, so I can read to suit my mood. And, I seldom finish Free Inquiry before The New Yorker arrives.

And if I don't want soda knocked on to the floor, since butting things onto the floor with their sweet little noses is one of their favorite things, I have to cap the bottle between sips. Put water in a sports bottle instead of a glass if I want to drink it and read.

* The door between the porch and the kitchen is the only door inside the apartment, except the saloon doors into the bathroom. There is no where else to close them.

** Actually, it reminded me of the story my friend Joyce Zinnerscheid used to tell of her friend who set his clock radio when he was drunk, and woke up the next day to the reverberating sound of "I AM THE LORD OF HELL FIRE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" He was in a bunkbed. He hit the top bunk and knocked himself out.


J at said...

HA! Joyce's story cracked me up. Too funny.

I'm very thankful for my quiet, peaceful dog right now. Your cats are sweet and loving, and boy, they sure changed the way you live your life in many little ways, didn't they?

Tabor said...

And I thought houseproofing for a two-year-old was hard...!

Maya's Granny said...

J, I always laugh at Joyce's story myself.

My cats are sweet and very loving and they have, indeed, changed the way I live my life in many ways. And right now they are sitting and washing themselves in the most innocent way you can imagine.

Chancy said...

So funny. I can just see the havoc those cats make and the hoops they make you jump through.

Have you considered a crate for the cats just when you need to restrain them and it is winter and too cold for the porch?

I would love to see a video from a hidden camera of the cats when you are not around. They probably just doze peacefully and then go into action when you are watching. Just like toddlers.

I too sometimes use the frozen garbage trick when it is something that might smell up the can before trash pick up day.

Bridget Magnus said...

Cats are indeed funny creatures. Over the years I have had 3 cats that liked television. Two of them even figured out how to work the remote. One cat liked tennis. The second preferred science and nature shows. The current cat likes cartoons. Particularly cartoons with robots (the bigger the better) and spaceships. I don't know whether she doesn't use the remote because there's a cable box, because her paws are too big, or maybe because she knows she can make the silly humans turn on cartoons about giant robots for her.

Kay Dennison said...

lol What scamps they are!

Kelli said...

Oh my goodness...I don't have that much trouble with my five cats! They don't bother food too much, surprisingly, but I have two who will eat anything that is soft plastic (plastic bags, plastic rings from milk jugs, etc.) that they can get to, so I have to make sure all of those are well out of reach/put up/thrown away. Then I have several paper shredders. If I have an important document, I absolutely can't leave it lying around, as it won't last. But I can definitely relate to you with the plants - the only plant I have now is in my office at work where there are no cats. I no longer have Christmas trees either, which I do kind of miss...

Uncivil said...

Granny.....go to doctor right now! I think you must have cat scratch fever or something?
There is no way I would put up with all that Cat mon due!!!!!!