Published in the Rains County Leader on November 6, 2018:
Kitty had quite an adventure this week. It could have served as a learning experience, but whether her memory is long enough for it to make a difference remains to be seen.
When we come home, she usually meets us at the door. This is especially true if David is coming in – she recognizes the difference in the sound of our footsteps. I’m not sure if the welcome is because she misses us when we’re gone or if it’s because she thinks she might be able to sneak outside for a romp through the yard. Either way, it’s fun to see her cute little face when we open the door, and we miss her when she’s not there.
One day last week David came home while I was still at work, and not only did Kitty not meet him at the door but the house was also very quiet. His first thought was that she had sneaked into the closet while we were getting dressed that morning and had been closed in. She wasn’t there, so he called her and checked all her usual hiding places with no luck. He was beginning to worry when he heard a faint wailing and scratching that sounded like it was coming from inside the walls. He followed it until he narrowed it down to the kitchen area, somewhere in the area of the stove.
The stove is against an inside wall. It has a single oven, a four-burner cook top, and a vent. Above the vent is a shallow cabinet where I store canned goods and then a square structure that encloses the exhaust pipe. The ceiling slants up toward a peak, and the space above the cabinets ranges from a few inches to almost three feet. That space is supposed to be a no-Kitty zone, but she loves to get up there when she thinks we’re not looking. That day, David thought the sound was coming from that general area, but he couldn’t see her. He continued to call her, and suddenly she appeared, covered with dust and looking a bit shaken.
As I said, her high perch is forbidden ground, and we reinforce that rule with a spray bottle filled with water. After her mysterious arrival, she sat huddled where she was, and she refused to move. David retrieved the spray bottle and tried to encourage her to come down. After a few squirts, she was dripping but still wouldn’t budge. He realized she was scared so he stood on a chair and lifted her down. Once she was safely on the floor, he investigated.
Apparently, the hole for the exhaust pipe was cut way too big. Since it is shielded from view by some crown molding, no one bothered to cover the opening. There are two Kitty-sized holes that lead to open spaces on either side of the pipe and behind the shallow storage cabinet. Even standing on a chair I can’t see the openings, but looking from the outside, I imagine they are about eight inches square and two feet deep. What I can’t imagine is how Kitty managed to fit her chubby little body into the space in the first place, and then how she managed to twist around and climb back out. I can’t say for sure that she has learned her lesson, but so far she hasn’t been back to revisit the scene of her crime.
That’s not the only traumatic experience she’s had lately, but I’ll save the other one for another column. I will, however, give you a hint. I’m trying to train her to wear a halter and leash so she can go outside occasionally in relative safety. I’ll let you know which of us gives up first.