Published in the Rains County Leader on April 11, 2017:
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote a poem called “There was a little girl.” For those who don’t remember it, here’s the first verse:
There was a little girl,
And she had a little curl
Right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good
She was very, very good,
And when she was bad she was horrid.
That describes Kitty – not the curl, of course, but the good and the bad – especially during and after a week of being left on her own.
In case you missed my last column, David and I recently spent a week playing with Spike, our big dog friend. Kitty doesn’t go with us when we house sit, because she was not very well behaved the last time she visited. She’s very self reliant at home as long as we leave her with a clean litter box and a full bowl. Apparently, though, she get’s lonely.
After taking care of Spike’s needs each morning, David would drop me off at the church, and he would go to the house, check the mail, and tend to Kitty’s needs. Even though she’s still somewhat anti-social, being alone for most of the time made her much more friendly. She rubbed against David’s legs, almost tripping him up more than once, and she jumped up on the couch next to him. She even tolerated being picked up and held in his lap, sometimes for as long as a minute or two.
David is still Kitty’s favorite, but when our house sitting gig was over and we both returned home, she was even affectionate to me. She would jump up on my ottoman several times a day and stand still while I petted her, and she tolerated being brushed once in a while. Every night I wake up with her sleeping at my feet instead of just every now and then. Believe it or not, I have even been allowed to scratch her neck from time to time.
That’s the good part. The bad part is that she learned a new way to get into mischief while she was home alone.
The first clue I noticed was a dead bug or two and some bits of other twiggy-looking things on the stove and surrounding countertop. It had been windy, so I assumed I was seeing debris that had been blown down the exhaust fan (country roofs get very dirty). Nothing else on the cabinet had been disturbed, so no other possibility occurred to me. Then, one day I walked into the kitchen and knew something wasn’t right.
Our kitchen cabinets stop about a foot shy of the ceiling, and there is a small strip of molding around the top. The molding is strictly decorative and it’s not expected that there will be any traffic way up there, so it’s only held on by a couple of staples and some glue. That day, however, the strip on the cabinet beside the sink wasn’t being held in place by much of anything except one lone staple. It was suspended at a crazy angle, resting against an angel that hangs on the side of the cabinet. I pointed it out to David, and we both knew immediately what had caused it. (Apparently, the molding hides dead bugs and other twiggy things, too.)
That night, David and I were in bed reading when I heard an unfamiliar sound from the kitchen. It took a few seconds for the sound to penetrate past the plot of the latest thriller that had my attention. When it finally did, I put down my book and listened.
“That sounded like a cat jumping up on the cabinets,” I said.
Either David’s book is much more engrossing than mine or he has never listened with a parent’s ears. “What?” he said.
I climbed out of bed and headed for the kitchen. I flipped on the light, and there she was, staring down at me from her perch several feet above the countertops, and looking very pleased with herself. I hurried back to the bedroom and grabbed the squirt bottle full of water that we use for disciplinary purposes. Back in the kitchen, I didn’t see her at first, but then she peeked out from behind the canning pot that stays above the microwave. My first shot caught her in the face, and she backtracked to the corner. I hit her with several more good squirts before she jumped down to the stovetop and took off for parts unknown.
I didn’t hear much out of her for the rest of the night, but by morning, she was waiting by the food bowl for her breakfast. Since then, I’ve seen a bit more dust on the countertop a couple of times, but she has saved her antics for her alone times, so there’s not much I can do. Besides, she’s still being pretty good most of the time, and I’ll settle for that.