Friday, July 2, 2010

Escape Artists

Since adopting the Formerly Feral Trio (i.e., Coraline, Brodie, and Shadow) I've had countless scary dreams in which all of them somehow manage to escape the house. But until this past Thursday this never happened in real life.

Before going further I should of course note that nobody disappeared or came to any harm during this brief but intense adventure.

So what exactly happened? Well, firstly I should point out a few things about the kitchen here. There are two doors to the outside: one with a "security"-type screen behind the solid door, and one sliding glass door with a standard-issue screen behind it. Both doors lead to the back yard. The sliding glass door locks and latches just fine, but the sliding screen door does not. Nevertheless, until yesterday I had seen the cats climbing the screen but not, you know, actually operating the door. I mean yes I'd seen Cora jumping at the handle of the glass slider but as occurs in many such cases, her tremendous mechanical intelligence was thwarted by lack of opposable thumbs. I learned yesterday, you don't need a handle to work a screen door that doesn't latch right. All you need is motivation and a nice sharp set of claws!

It was early morning. Matt was getting ready for work and I was preparing to take the bus to the biotech lab I volunteer at (yep, I'm still job-searching). I had opened the glass slider to look at the vegetable garden (and my catnip plants!) and then went to brush my teeth or something of that nature.

When I returned to the main living area (the living room and kitchen are all sort of one big room, yay midcentury open floorplans!) I noticed it was quiet...too quiet. Then I happened to glance out to the patio and saw Cora there, sniffing nonchalantly at the ground. "Ack!" I thought. But I was not really wigged yet at that point, because Cora knows the yard pretty well. But THEN I looked past Cora and saw...Brodie. Blinking up at me with what can only be described as a "deer in headlights" look. I did not see Shadow at first but within seconds of seeing Brodie, Shadow poked his head from behind a bush.

Then I saw the "evidence" that had led to this whole situation -- the screen door was open just enough for a cat (or three of them) to squeeze through. And I knew I hadn't left it open...THAT I am very careful about.

Quickly I mentally resigned myself to possibly being late for lab. I was especially concerned about Brodie. Cora and Shadow have both been out in the yard with me (sans harness, but under close supervision) a few times, and both have stayed in the garden and not seemed particularly jumpy about neighbors' lawnmower sounds and dogs barking and whatnot. Brodie, however, is still working on harness acclimation, so to just see him sitting there in the yard really threw me a bit

BUT! As it turned out, it only ended up taking me TWO MINUTES to literally herd all three youngsters into the house. I just opened the screen door as wide as it would go and tossed a few pieces of dry food (which they all love; I've been trying to feed them more wet but still they get a few grain-free crunchies every day) into the kitchen. In they all went, trotting merrily in single file. It was quite a sight to behold! And quite a relief that nobody got spooked enough to disappear.

Needless to say, after this I will DEFINITELY be keeping the glass door closed on the slider whenever I can't be right there to watch it!

Oh, and as for who the culprit was? The cats aren't telling, but I strongly suspect Cora did it first. Shadow showed me today he could operate the screen too, though, so who knows for certain.

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