Friday, 2 October 2009

Preparing for winter the cat's way

The nights are getting longer, the days are getting colder. These days, our cat Misty doesn’t just need to get out of the house from time to time. Sometimes, the falling temperature or the falling rain means he needs to get back in. We still don’t have cat flaps – this place isn’t ours after all – and the increasing cold itself makes us reluctant to leave a window open as we did in the summer. So Misty has turned again to his exceptional talents for bending others to his will.

Now I’ve already talked about Misty’s extraordinary skills in training me (see In pet training, who trains who exactly?). This has enabled him to be let out whenever he needs. He continues to use the techniques I’ve described before: first he pushes my belongings off my bedside table, starting with a pen, then a watch, finally a mobile phone in the hope that the noise and the anxiety will persuade me to deal with him.

If that doesn’t work the next step is the delicate insertion of a claw into my skin followed, in extreme cases – for instance at 4:00 in the morning when I’m less than 100% focused on his requirements – by biting my toes. That certainly gets my attention.

So much for getting out. But it’s not much use for getting back in. For that, Misty needed help from another source.

He's found out that our dog Janka has become increasingly sensitive to his mewing and he’s turned this fact to good use. When he needs to get in, he stands outside the back door and mews. If we’re downstairs, she’s the first there, staring out at Misty until we come to let him in. If we’re upstairs, though, it’s a different matter. She can’t get down to the back door. So she starts to whine. Misty continues to mew. Not that loudly, but somehow piercingly and with great persistence.

It’s another technique that works. Because eventually Janka starts to bark. And that is guaranteed to wake me if nothing else does.

So as well as training me, Misty has trained Janka to bark when he needs her to. Making another powerful addition to his armoury of weapons to get his way.

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