2: Mandir the Magician

2: Mandir the Magician

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Cat Did What?

Mandir the Magician

A cat is more intelligent than people believe, and can be taught any crime.

~Mark Twain

“What are we going to do with the kids?” I asked my husband. “I’ve asked them repeatedly to keep the door closed so that the cats don’t get out, but I might as well be talking to a wall.”

When we designed our new home, we had a large cattery built exclusively for our five indoor cats. The room consisted of a picture window, several catwalks, platforms, hanging toys and their litter boxes. It also included human seats in case we wished to visit all of them at once.

Not only was this unique room designed to keep our feline family from prowling the house at night, but it served as a safe place to keep them out of harm’s way while certain home projects were being completed.

We had only been in the house for a few days and were still unpacking our boxes when the cats discovered that we had a basement. There were too many unfinished places that could cause harm to our four-legged friends, so I’d pleaded with the children to keep the cats in the cattery until it was safe for them to roam.

As I worked in the Great Room, unpacking a box of dishes, I spied Mandir trotting merrily on her way to the basement stairs. “Kids… can you come down here, please,” I spoke loudly, so that all three of them would hear me.

When the children gathered in front of me I showed them the open cattery and asked which one of them had been in there last. The responsible party grudgingly came forward, but insisted that the door was fastened tight when he left.

“Listen,” I said, “the cats aren’t magicians. They cannot open the door any time they want to and come on out, so please — make sure it’s shut!”

Less than half an hour later, while I was setting up items in the sunroom, Mandir once again appeared strolling toward the basement stairs. Once again I gathered the kids and of course, the responsible party came forward but denied leaving the door ajar.

This happened several times throughout the day and each time either the children swore they hadn’t been in the cattery or swore that they had shut the door.

That night, as we sat together eating dinner, Mandir passed us on her way to the basement stairs.

“What the heck?” said my husband. “Did one of you kids leave the door open again?” Good, I thought. He can finally deal with this. The children shook their heads no.

My husband got up from the table, lovingly picked up Mandir and placed her back in the cattery with the other cats. He had barely been seated again when Mandir appeared.

The children roared with laughter. “I know I shut that door tight,” said my husband. The kids were now laughing hysterically, because it was his turn to be accused of leaving the door open. “There must be a flaw with the door,” he exclaimed. “It’s the only answer.”

“Has anyone else noticed that Mandir always comes out first?” I asked. Eventually the rest of the cats would escape, but Mandir always led the way.

My husband excused himself from the table and asked the kids to follow him. “Help me get the cats into the bedroom, all except Mandir. Leave her in the cattery.”

The kids giggled as they worked placing all the cats in the room except Mandir. Then, they closed the bedroom door. After they placed Mandir in the cattery, each one of them tested the door to make sure that it had closed properly. None of them could get it to budge, including my husband. “There’s nothing wrong with the door,” he announced.

As we took our seats and started eating our dessert, sure enough, here came Mandir. By this time we were laughing so hard we had tears in our eyes. My husband picked her up and placed her back in the cattery. After he shut the door and made sure it was closed all the way, he motioned us over.

He put a finger to his lips, motioning us to be quiet. Pretty soon, we heard the sounds of frantic pawing on metal as we watched the doorknob twist to and fro. Then like magic — it opened and Mandir proudly appeared.

The next day we took turns sitting patiently in the cattery, anticipating the moment when Mandir would open the door, but she never tried it when someone was watching.

After several more escapes, my husband pulled out his toolbox and put an outside lock on the door. The children sat around giggling.

“I guess I owe you kids an apology,” I laughed. “Cats can be magicians after all and they can come out any time they like as long as Mandir is with them.”

“Mandir the magician,” said my husband and put the final screw in place. “Let’s see if she can open a locked door,” he chuckled.

Only a few minutes after the bolt was in place Mandir tried to open the door. As the kids roared with laughter we observed the knob turning to and fro, but Mandir the magician had met her match!

~Jill Burns

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