Any cat parents out there will, I’m sure, sympathise and empathise with this post.
As some of you know, I have four fur babies. I prefer them to be in the house overnight and, most of the time, they’re relatively compliant during autumn, winter and spring (summer is a whole different ballgame). They come and go at will during the day and usually, by early evening, they’re all snuggled up in their various current favourite places around the house.
One cold night earlier in the year Charlie, Cara and Mabel went out shortly after I got in from work as usual to have their late afternoon inspection of their perimeter, having had their tea and I settled down to watch a little bit of TV. Mabel popped in and out over the next couple of hours, alternately resting and then tearing around the house like her ass was on fire. Poppy watched with amusement from the comfort of my lap.
Sometime around 7pm I opened the front door and Cara came in and hurtled up the stairs to bed.
Mabel appeared through the back door shortly thereafter but Charlie was nowhere to be seen. Now and again she decides that a night on the tiles is in order, whereupon I have to leave the cat flap in the back door unlocked to allow her to saunter in when she sees fit, usually around 4am. As Mabel hasn’t figured out how to get through the cat flap if it’s not propped open, I simply let the flap down to stop her going back out again: simple, but effective. At this point Mabel usually decides to go upstairs and take up residence on her favourite chair: last night was no exception.
By the time I was ready to go to bed there was still no sign of Charlie so I resigned myself to a less than satisfactory night’s sleep with one of the fur babies out and about, propped open the flap and headed up to bed. Five minutes later, I realised I’d forgotten something, went downstairs, opened the front door (just in case) and in flounces Charlie, looking for a scratch under the chin and to be told what a good girl she was. As I was breathing a sigh of relief, a black streak shot past me and out of the (still open) door.
I slammed the door shut in frustration, went to fill Charlie’s bowl and went back to the door to reason with Mabel (yes, really, it does sometimes work!) as she sat there, just beyond reach, looking at me with those big green eyes wide. Laughing at me.
Charlie, meanwhile, was munching quite happily on a bowlful of Royal Canin and I swear I could hear Poppy and Cara snickering upstairs. Maybe that’s just my paranoia. I left it for five minutes, opened the door again and Mabel was just sat there, in the same place, staring at me. I tried to entice her over the threshold. No dice. I got her a bit of string to play with. Yeah, she’d play, but would only put one paw over the threshold (she’s wise to my human tricks). Meanwhile, I’m keeping half an eye on the staircase behind me in case the others decided to rush me and head back out of the door themselves. Charlie was halfway up the stairs watching my antics with great amusement.
I tried rustling a bag of cat treats to entice the inward journey, but decided that was probably a bad idea as it was likely to bring forth cats from all corners of the house in search of goodies.
Continuing with the string wasn’t such a great idea either – Mabel would very quickly learn to associate staying out of reach outside the house with me playing with her. Dumbass me forgets how quickly they learn.
Eventually I decided that I was going to have to go out in the frigid air and attempt to get her between me and the door so that she’d go back in. I’d just put one foot outside the door next to her and she relented, jumping nimbly over the threshold, twirling her tail behind her joyously and heading straight for the food bowls.