25 January, 2008

The comedy in my Life (or I Desperately Need Help)

What is life without comedy?

I find that when I start to take life too seriously, something happens that reminds me to laugh; to find the humor in this or that situation. Perhaps it is a sort of comic relief? Something that saves me from myself.
A few years ago my comic relief came from the environment, the people around me, situations, or just the silly things that I would catch myself doing. For the past 2 years, however, I live with a great sense of comic relief... my cat.

A few years ago we adopted a 1 year old cat. He was the sole survivor of a litter of 12, so was spoiled at his first house... nothing has changed. This cat loves people. He loves to help at all times. I think that he would have been very happy in a house with 12 kids and a few other cats as he loves activity and knows everything that is happening in the house at all times. That is just the kind of cat he is.

Instead, Dixie is the only male in a quiet house of females. he is pampered and cuddled and loved endlessly... but he also gets bored. And when he is bored... well, comic relief happens. (even when he isn't bored as he is a real clown)
Dixie's favorite pass time seems to be figuring out how to get into the "restricted area." You see, my old female cat decided that enough was enough when we brought the male home. She refused to leave the bedroom for three weeks. And that was about how long it took me to decide that enough was enough and separate the two.

But separating the two wasn't as easy as I thought it would be.

Belle is content in her room. She actually has it made outside the notion that she doesn't get as much attention as she would like. She is queen though, so she is okay with the lack of attention.

Dixie, on the other hand, thinks that he really needs to be in that room too. He doesn't like being restricted the most of the house... he wants to know what is happening throughout the entire house.

And so began my attempt to keep him out of Belle's suite; to separate the two cats.

It began with a high baby gate that Dixie soon crawled under, then jumped over. At that point I had to build a blockade which meant that I couldn't get into that part of the house - even though he could.

That wouldn't work.

So I found a higher baby gate.

That didn't work either.

Ah... he needs more toys or company during the day... so I ensured that he had both.

To no avail.

Some things to keep in mind - this is a determined cat! he is over 3 feet in length - from the tip of his tail to the tip of his nose. He weighs over 15 pounds and is bigger than many small dogs. Plus, he has all his waking hours to figure out his invasion strategy; his tactical maneuvers.

Last summer my dad installed shutters (yes, shutters) in my hall to separate the two cats. The shutters stand over 50 inches - they are taller than the Diva.


Although Dixie would sit on his side of the shutters and play with the slats, it appeared that the humans in the house had finally outsmarted the cat.

But... (you knew there would be a but) where there is a will, there is a way.

By the end of November, Dixie was jumping the shutters.

I bought one of the spiky sheets of hard plastic that is normally used for computer chairs on carpet. I figured that the spike side up would keep him from approaching the gate. No approach; no lift off... problem solved.

The spikes hurt human feet, they don't seem to bother cats

I then put a towel on top of the shutters and used the heavy plastic for a roof, of sorts. I thought, "this will work until I can get a door installed."
Tuesday night I arrived home. Dixie was not there to greet me at the door. In fact, he was no where to be seen. But I knew where he was... I approached the shutters looking for his means of entry. He peaked at me from around the corner, very happy to see me..."Hi, I made it in. Aren't you proud of me!"

I have no idea how this cat is getting into the restricted area at the moment. Perhaps he has figured out how to jump over the top once the plastic adopts a new shape (as it does during the day due to gravity)... I just don't know.

The entire situation is bewildering and the comedy of life. For the past 2.5 years, this young cat has gone head to head with 3 mature adult humans (1 woman and 2 men) and... he has won!

The door will solve my problem - but the door is the last resort and will probably not happen until this summer. I need to find another solution..! NOW.

It is hard not to smile when I write this. It is hard not to find the humor in the situation as I, once again, go through the barricade to remove Dixie because, he is smart enough to get in but he has yet to figure out how to get himself back out! His game, tactics, and determination are amusing and part of his charm. Getting rid of him is not an option ...but preventing him from entering the restricted area is now a mission that must result in a human victory!

I know it is funny... but I need help... so I am recruiting anyone who reads this.

Ideas are welcome; nothing is beyond my consideration! I'm taking any and all suggestions at the moment. Apparently a cat with determination and a lot of free time is out of my league. (And I can't believe I am admitting that to everyone out there... but desperate times call for desperate measures)

I need help!!!


Dave said...

I'm told ammonia works; though given Belle is on the other side of the barrier, that might not be an option.

"Invisible Fence" is a more expensive option. My brother has two dogs that he does not want to go into the kitchen. The device sends out an electronic signal that the dogs won't go near. He tested by sitting it next to a pizza slice on the floor when he left in the morning. It was still there when he got home.

Have the T-Shirt said...

I think I'd give up and let Belle and Dixie figger out a working relationship.

Is he mean to her or is she just afraid of him?

When I was married, our cat went into hiding when we got our dog. The dog was thrilled with the cat, the cat was NOT thrilled with the dog.

Eventually, and I mean it took a LONG time, the cat got sick of staying holed up in that one room and began making short jaunts out. Finally, she gave up her hermit ways and joined the rest of us.

Wombat said...

Dixie and Belle! So cute.

Ditto T-Shirt ^^^^^^^^^^^^^.

Much the easiest way. They must be used to each other by now.

The Exception said...

Dave - I didn't realize that they made such fences to be used indoors. Interesting idea.

T-Shirt - I had hoped that it would be the case, that they would get along after a while. But it didn't work that way. He intimidates her to no end, without even trying. Whenever he is near, she freaks out. If she would just ignore him, he would ignore her... but she won't do it. She marks instead. Keeping them apart is the only option.

Wombat - They are both natives to Virginia - the southern influence ya know.

teahouse said...

Hey, I enjoyed reading your story, but unfortunately have no suggestions, as I've never owned a cat...

Scotty said...

Ha! Too funny!

Though, I have no suggestions :)

Have the T-Shirt said...

Ewww on the marking.

Yea, that would convince me they needed to be apart.

It's a shamed they're not like birds, you could have his 'wings clipped' :P

The Exception said...

Teahouse - Glad you enjoyed... he is a funny cat in so many ways!

Scotty - I was counting on you as you seem to be quite the handy man!

T-Shirt - Yeah, that started when I served as a halfway house for a male cat that was going to live with my parents. He wasn't fixed... so the house was marked. She never got over it and thought marking was probably a good idea when Dixie came.

Oh, were he a bird... I have thought about getting him fish or a bird... just to keep him busy!

Kat Wilder said...

I know that the humane society around here has classes to help you understand your cat's behavior (OK, I can hear the collective laugh — that's soooooo California!)

But your local humane society may offer something like that, too.

A friend gave her cat away when he started doing bizarre things; now I'm thinking all she needed to do was figure out what was causing the behaviour. Good luck!

Carrie said...

Cats are SO amusing... my former roommats cat, Maverick, used to jump in and out of plastic LCBO bags for hours on end...

The Exception said...

Kat - I might ask the vet when I take Dixie in. She loves cats so might have an idea.

Carrie - Cats are amazingly interesting creatures... so much personality in such a little package!

AaroN said...

Why stop the humor? Get an electric fence!

On a more serious note, I once saw someone put double-sided tape on the edges of their furniture which kept the cat from scratching it...

The Exception said...

Aaron - I ordered an invisible, indoor, fence. Those who know my cat believe that he will figure out how to foil the fence... but I am hopeful that it will work!

I tried the tape with the first gate... he loves that tape!