Amber, my cat, channels Houdini!

Amber, a beautiful Bengal cat, came into my life last August. She’s definitely not a “lap cat” – and in fact will protest vocally and vigorously, with all claws, at any attempt to contain her chosen space of the moment. But she does like “body contact” (on her terms, of course, headbutts being her preferred mode) – and she loves to be brushed, vocalizing appreciatively while dancing on my desk.

This little dance is invariably a prelude as she draws my eyes away so that she can demonstrate her amazing “hockey-playing” talents: anything on my desk that can be relocated to the floor, with a fast swipe by a paw, will invariably end up on the floor! Her favourite targets, though, are the easily movable wrist-rest and corded mouse on my keyboard tray. Not too much challenge in the wrist-rest … a simple swipe sends it in whatever direction she chooses.

But her mouse-moving motions strongly suggest that in her previous incarnation, she must have been a hockey-player! Quite some time ago, Amber figured out that in order to launch the mouse from its resting place (often unguarded, because I’m a keyboarder), she needs to push it to the side, or to the back … which she invariably succeeds in doing. Needless to say, her paw is faster than my hand! I have lost count of the number of “goals” she has scored ;-)

All of the foregoing, however, is mere child’s play compared to her latest feat. Although Amber had been an “indoor-outdoor” cat at her previous home, I had determined that for my sanity and her safety she would be an indoor-only cat. Last summer, she was quite content to view the outside world beyond my patio when I pulled across the scrollaway screen my dad had installed for me, when he visited me last spring. I could open the door: the screen kept bugs out (although they are admittedly few and far between) and Amber in.

This year was quite a different story. A few weeks ago, I noticed that Amber had developed the practice of lifting the bottom of the screen from its track. Although I was not thrilled with this development, it was really no big deal, and closing and opening the screen a few times got it back into its track. The opening was not sufficient for her to get out.

Or so I thought … Very mistakenly, as it turns out! Amber is quite vocal – particularly when I am on a work-related conference call, or any other kind of phone call, come to think of it. One day last week, things had been too quiet for comfort, so I left my office and went into the living-room. No sign of Amber, and screen was very much off its track. When she heard me calling, she deigned to answer but kept herself well beyond my grasp. Eventually, she did come back into the apartment, quite pleased with herself, as you can well imagine.

To paraphrase an old song, “how’m I gonna keep her inside the screen, after she’s been out and free?!” I gave the matter considerable thought, which escalated each day as she frequently let me know – in no uncertain vocalizations – that she was not a happy camper, and that I needed to open the patio door for her!

So, I took some measurements and trotted off to the hardware store in search of a solution. I was thinking plexiglass, but the chap at the hardware store told me this was an expensive solution that probably wouldn’t work, because I have no way of anchoring it. He suggested a sheet of plywood, which they kindly cut to my specs: 1 ft high and 78cm wide. Came home and was very pleased that this resulted in a very snug fit, flush to the floor and between the frames of the screen, therefore no way Amber could slide under.

I stood and watched from a distance. It took her all of 3 seconds to pull this very snug-fitting barrier to the floor! Hmmm … Well, there must be more than one way to barricade a cat, I thought! So I ramped another piece of plywood against the first to keep it in place (see pictures in gallery below), confident that there was no way she could pull it down this time.

Well, I’m pleased to say that this kept the barrier snugly in place. It did not, however, keep Amber from an Houdini-like escape!! I cannot figure out how she got out, but she most certainly did! And, of course, eventually, she came back. So, I tried again, today. And Amber has outsmarted me again! But, this time, I got some pictures:

Click on one of the images to activate the “gallery” (with larger images)

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