98: The Instigator

98: The Instigator

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: I Can't Believe My Cat Did That!

The Instigator

The belly rules the mind.

~Spanish Proverb

It started innocently enough when I decided to rescue a cat from our local animal shelter. Even my husband had agreed to the plan. With the kids grown and out of the house, things were a little too quiet. A cat would be a great companion for all of us, including our elderly Schnauzer, Indy, who slept too much and played too little.

As I wandered past rows of cages in the shelter’s cat room, I felt a tap on my shoulder. A gray tiger-striped tabby had stretched out a paw from between steel bars to get my attention. I looked at the card attached to his cage. Apparently he’d been in a foster home with dogs. The note went on to say that the animals played together and appeared to get along well. Intrigued, I opened his cage door and the cat leaped into my arms, purring like a motorboat as I stroked his soft fur. Who could say no to that? So I filled out adoption papers and took Bogey home.

The first hurdle we conquered easily. When Bogey met Indy, neither of them raised a hair. They sniffed and eyed each other for about five minutes. With introductions complete, they became as comfortable as two best friends reunited after a long separation. I breathed a sigh of relief.

I knew cats were agile, but soon discovered Bogey combined the energy of a lightning bolt with the dexterity of Houdini. He climbed the drapes to become King of the Curtains, conquered the curio cabinet, and maneuvered himself to the top of the foyer closet. It seemed the cat could do anything. Indy couldn’t follow all the places Bogey led, but it soon became clear that years had rolled off my aging dog’s life. He bounced around the house as though he were a puppy again, while Bogey sprinted circles around him. It seemed a perfect arrangement until a few strange things began to happen.

I found a chewed water bottle lid on the floor. I must have dropped it, and with Indy’s newly rediscovered puppy energy, he’d done the rest. My fault, though it surely seemed that I last saw it sitting on the counter top.

The next day I found a plastic clamp chewed to pieces — then a pencil. How in the world did Indy get hold of all these things? He hadn’t been so destructive in years. Then I caught Bogey pawing a rubber eraser from the table to the floor where Indy waited. Apparently the two had become colleagues in crime. As a result, I no longer left things on tables or countertops.

Bogey had other talents. Cabinet doors were a favorite. I watched him stand tall on his hind legs and grab the top of the door with his front paws to pull it open. This activity apparently provided endless amusement. Whenever I’d return home, there would be half a dozen cabinets standing in perfect imitation of open-mouthed amazement.

Not long after Bogey’s first birthday, I started a backyard project that required running in and out of the house. After several trips back and forth, I found the sliding glass door open. Both Bogey and Indy were gone. Horrified, I scoured the area until I found the two of them hanging out under the neighbors’ deck two doors up the street. I brought the runaways home and shut the door firmly. Bogey scampered straight for it and pawed with the talent of a true cat burglar. Indy watched him with ears pricked forward and tail at stiff attention. In no time at all, Bogey had worked the door open. I now keep it locked.

But soon another issue came along that overshadowed Bogey’s behavior. I complained to my husband.

“Our refrigerator is getting too old. The magnet doesn’t hold the door tight enough anymore. Please be sure to close it completely. I don’t know how many times I’ve come home lately to find the thing standing wide open.”

He looked bewildered.

“I could have sworn I closed it before I left for work today.” But like any smart husband he quickly amended the comment. “Yes, dear. I’ll be sure to shut it next time.”

Only a few days later I found the door open again. This time my blood pressure achieved never-before-seen heights. I touched the top shelf. It felt practically room temperature with the motor chugging loud as a freight train. Worse yet, when I examined the contents for spoilage, I noticed my beautifully prepared salmon dip had been plundered.

I tapped my foot in aggravation. My husband had not only left the door open again, but he had also sneaked a sample of something he shouldn’t have. He knew I’d made that dip for a party. When he got home, he’d certainly get an earful from me.

I fumed silently for a while, but soon noticed the house seemed eerily quiet. I crept toward the kitchen and saw Bogey stroll to the refrigerator. Then he nonchalantly flopped on his back and pushed his paws against the refrigerator door’s rubber tubing. Only a minute later, it swung open. Indy joined his pal as two noses sniffed the shelf at muzzle height. Bogey went for the salmon dip while Indy lapped leftover ham salad. My eyebrows shot up and I hurried to stop them. Indy backed away, but Bogey didn’t budge, emitting a few loud and proud meows. Better than a dead field mouse, this box of delights had evidently become the catch of the day, his crowning achievement. I could only shut the door and shake my head.

Perhaps every Baby Boomer needs excitement, even if it comes in the form of a four-footed juvenile delinquent. Things have certainly changed since Bogey came to live with us. Indy got a friend and regained his youth. I became much more nimble trying to outguess a cat who thankfully does not have opposable thumbs. My husband has someone else to blame for unfortunate household incidents. He describes Bogey quite accurately.

“That cat is like a two-year-old with four-wheel drive.”

Meanwhile, until the refrigerator is finally replaced, we keep a chair propped in front of the door. Lucky for us, Bogey hasn’t yet learned to move furniture.

~Pat Wahler

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