Thursday, November 21, 2013

A Cabinet Full of FUN

 When are you ever going to let them out?

I was listening to galumphing of tiny little elephant feet coming from the two residents upstairs. Free from the confines of their safe-room, the kittens were racing up and down the hallway. Louder thumps went unexplained. Ray, curled on his favorite chair, was following their movements with his eyebrows.

I had let them out the previous evening to explore but it was day-one of our new family members being mainstreamed into the family. Although the safe-room was still available for use when I needed to go out, it was my plan to get the cats out and about as soon as possible.

I sense a presence.
You let them out, didn't you?
Here kitty, kitty, kitty

I'm sensing that there's something not quite right with this dog
The main sticking point had been where we were going to feed the cats where Mr. Nosy couldn't have access to the cat food. Being kittens, it was important that they could eat whenever they wanted.
Then, I woke up with an IDEA fully formed in my head. The IDEA, which involved a kitchen cabinet, was most probably inspired by a cat from my childhood that we fed inside a cabinet on a shelf. Wellington, an orange tiger cat, knew how to open cabinet doors and would jump up on a shelf above the cat food boxes, put a paw in, and drag his kibble up and out of the boxes piece by piece until somebody got a clue and fed him. Eventually, we moved his food dish to the shelf. Whenever Wellington was hungry, he would flick open the cabinet door and jump up on his shelf to eat. It was convenient and there was never a visible mess.

Harvey, demonstrating the cat walk to the proposed feeding-station 
All we needed for our new kittens was a kitchen cabinet. Gregg and I headed out to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore and found something cheap and suitable. The IDEA rode on the assumption that the front of the cabinet would be inaccessible to the dog because of the cabinet doors, and the back would be open to the kitties but not to the dog. It would be on the second floor, up against the iron stair railing, next to Ray's futon. The kitties could walk the edge of the floor outside of the railing and squeeze through the railing to get into the cabinet to eat. But since it was on the second floor and the back of the cabinet faced the stairwell, Ray couldn't get to it.

See? I'm just another cat. Only bigger.
Although Ray had spent some time earlier in the day trying to get in the cats' good graces, the kittens were snoozing on their tree and Ray was snoozing on his chair when I decided it was time to deploy the cat-feeding station. I spent a considerable amount of time figuring out how to anchor it to the railings so that if Ray tried to stand on it, or if rambunctious kitties were playing in it, it wouldn't tip over. But, at last, it was ready.
OMG there's a DOG in my room.
Oh come on, you guys! Please play with me.
Dog, you are treading on dangerous ground here.
The proof-of-concept having been already established by Wellington, Ray and I went to get the kitties for the beta test.

Me and my peeps are just going to hang out here.
Juno was on the dresser in her chosen spot in front of the mirror. She is at her most relaxed in this spot and when she is there will not run away when approached. (I think it's because she has backup in the form of that other cat that looks just like her.) Harvey was lounging on the tree and stood up to greet me when I came in.

I picked up Harvey first. Juno, seeing the dog behind me, crouched a little lower in her spot so as to be cat-invisible but didn't dart away; she just watched as I pulled Harvey to my chest and bent over a bit so that Ray could sniff the little guy. Harvey hissed as the big dog-nose touched his but didn't struggle, didn't tense up, and more importantly, didn't try to shred me or bop Ray.

Ray pulled his head away at the hiss, and obviously misinterpreting the noise, wagged his tail.
I crooned sweet nothings at my good little cat and turned to get Juno who was interestedly observing me trying to feed her brother to the dog. I scooped up the little pudge and headed to the feeding station.

Ok, I'm done. 
Now, how do I get out of here?
Once again followed by the ever-curious Ray, I deposited each cat on a separate shelf and closed the cabinet door. Ray, smelling the cat food and wanting a taste, bonked his head into the new piece of furniture then, when he heard me start down the stairs, followed me to the landing where I was going to take some photos of my invention in action. I also wanted to see if the kitties were going to freak out with the big dog nearby and to see if they could figure out the access issues. Ray stood nearby, fascinated with the smells of cat and cat food wafting down to him.

Um, Harvey, I don't know if it's a good idea
to leave right now. That big dog is out there.
Harvey finished eating first. Disdaining the hole I had made in the top shelf for ease of ingress/egress, Harvey put his head through the stair rails and tried to reach the sliver of floor below. Not being quite long enough, Harvey hooked his back feet around the rails and dangled. The inevitable happened. The little cat dropped to the floor right under Ray's nose, then panicked, and shot down the stairs followed at a high rate of speed by the delighted dog.

Oh, what the heck, nothing ventured, 
nothing gained!
Juno, still eating, watched the shenanigans peripherally.

Uh oh.
I followed the duo only to see Ray heading out of the dining room, his tail wagging. Harvey was nowhere to be seen but I had a gut feeling that he had raced for the laundry room, a place he had been exploring the night before. Ray was tossing back and forth looking for his new playmate then, when he couldn't find him, went back to the landing to see if any more cats would drop from the heavens.

I called to Harvey and after a minute or two, the little guy nervously appeared from behind the furnace. I picked him up gently and carried him back up the stairs. Ray, ears deployed in Dumbo mode was standing on the landing alertly. I sat on the step with Harvey against my chest. Ray reached his nose out to sniff and Harvey gave as menacing a growl as a four pound cat can. Ray pulled back his head contritely, and without me saying a word, instantly sat.

I laughed. Obviously, Ray knew he had screwed up.
Impressed that Harvey was not struggling to get away from the big dog and did not even feel particularly tensed, I carried him up to his safe room where I turned him loose.

Juno, who had been watching the dog from under the futon, saw her brother back safe and sound and ran for the safety of the room where she once again dove under the bed. Ray laid down on the landing looking nonchalant.

I went to my invention and lowered the top shelf so that the little cats could reach the floor easier, then, fairly well convinced that the cats could hide form the dog if need be, I went off to take a shower after all my exertions.

I was just stepping out of the shower when I thought I heard a plaintive little meow. I quickly wrapped a towel around myself and ran for the cat room.

Juno was on the top tier of the cat tree, Harvey was in the hole in the bottom of the tree, and Ray was laying full length as a sphinx in front of the hole. Obviously thinking that Harvey had shown how amenable he was to play, Ray was trying to engage the little guy again. The hound extended his head toward the little cat relaxing inside; Harvey hissed. Ray drew his head back and theatrically tossed it from side to side, snapping the air. Again Ray extended his head, again Harvey hissed, again Ray showed his theatrical side.

After watching the show repeat itself, I intervened. I put my hand on Harvey who started to purr. I put my other hand on Ray who stopped his theatrics and put his head on his paws, ears fully deployed in Dumbo mode. I petted both for a second, then getting kinda cold, led my dog from the room, closed the door, and once again left the cats to recover.

Still life with Cat and Iron


  1. Juno and Harvey or gorgeous! I just love that Juno feels safe with her "double".

    I'm sure in time they will get used to Ray. I love your cabinet idea!

  2. You are indeed the Mother of Invention! Hee hee

  3. This is going well! I see dog/cat snuggling in the near future :)