10 February 2012

Cats--Henry and Boss

Welcome back. Do you remember Henry, the bushy-tailed, Holstein-colored cat that…uh…saved our son, Noah, from a bat after they--Noah, his roommates, Henry, the bat--settled into a new apartment (Time for Pets—Henry the Cat)

Henry in his temporary harbor.
If you recall, the following year, Noah demonstrated his gratitude and devotion to Henry by signing the lease on a different apartment that didn’t allow pets.   

For reasons fathomable only to Noah and Vicki, his mother, that meant we would harbor Henry-the-evicted-cat. “We” implies Vicki and me, but don’t be confused. Unlike me, Vicki hasn’t retired.

Boss, The Displaced Cat

Young Boss, exhibiting her
mastery of hiding in plain sight
from Rex, a former housemate.
As bad as our newest feline boarder is for me, it’s worse for Boss. Here again, you may recall my writing about Boss, the black female cat that, after years of silence, found her voice (Time for Pets--Cats, Time for Pets—Cats Revisited).

As I described in those earlier posts, Boss, once young and dumb, is now old and, well, still pretty dumb.
  
To look the part, Boss lost a fang. The remaining fang has been known to protrude, causing her to appear from the side like a tiny saber-tooth tiger after being dipped in a tar pit. We haven’t quite pinned down where or when the other fang went.

Thinking about pinned down, you may recall that, on being introduced to Boss, Henry hesitated for a few seconds--hesitating is not Henry’s forte--before launching himself across the room, landing with his mouth open, teeth intact, on Boss’s throat. It was not an auspicious beginning.

Fortunately for Boss, above our house’s basement and main floor, there’s an upstairs, where Boss now spends her days and nights, mainly in the former guest room. She might venture down to the main floor for a few minutes if she’s feeling exceedingly curious, courageous and confident that Henry’s elsewhere.

Boss (in chair on right) residing in 
the former guest room.

Saved by Technology

The cats’ relationship and my anger management both improved immensely a few weeks ago. 
 


Whenever Henry was bored, he would slip upstairs to stalk and chase Boss. Boss would howl, screech and dash under a bed, I would go running and shout at Henry, and Henry--once Boss was hidden--would look terribly apologetic, seeming more like a dog (“Whatever I did, I’m sorry”) than a cat (“What?”).

Boss would remain under the bed, though her stay in that battered-cat shelter was getting shorter and shorter as the chase got old.

Motion-activated alarm 
on staircase.
At Vicki’s suggestion, I found and bought a battery-operated device that emits a mildly piercing, high-pitched sound and a puff of compressed air when its sensor detects movement. I placed the device on the staircase from the main floor to the upstairs.

Success! After only a single episode, Henry has stayed downstairs. We now operate the device without the puff; the sound is sufficient.

It’s definitely a bother to point the device to the wall if we’re passing or using the stairs, and it often goes off anyway, responding to changes in brighter light. Moreover, the effectiveness of this technological barrier will be negated the moment irrepressible Henry spots Boss at the top of the stairs. He’ll charge by or over the device and ignore it thereafter. 

But we’ve had peace for weeks…if you don’t count the mildly piercing, high-pitched sound.
Boss at top of stairs.

Wrap Up

It took only 2 or 3 months for Henry to train me. He and I have a routine and schedule, disrupted only when Vicki stops by or, worse, if Noah’s home from college. I’ll tell you about it another day.

Thanks for stopping by. I’ll write again in about a week.

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