Wednesday, September 23, 2009 10:00 AM

Cats, Closed Doors, and the Long Arm of the Paw

If you have cats in your home, then you know that there is nothing like the sound of a door closing to rouse them out of a deep slumber (well, except for the sound of cat bowls being set out). Heads shoot up, third eyelids still receding: What was that? they seem to be thinking. I'd better go investigate. Next thing you know, there's a cat or two (or three) on one side of a closed door, pawing, scratching and peering underneath. If the door remains closed, they start with the yelling. They meow, chirp, yowl and generally make as much noise as possible until that door opens up to reveal--not much new, but, darn it, they need to know! They'll look around for a few seconds, then saunter back to their napping posts, feeling relaxed and assured that nothing is going on in their house that don't have a handle on. Another job well done!

Cats are naturally curious, as we all know, but nothing excites that predisposition more than a closed door. In our house, doors are left open or, if privacy or convenience is really needed, ajar. This way, we don't have to listen to annoyed cats trying to get into the bathroom while one or the other of us is showering. Closet doors are also left this way, since once, many years ago, we almost left the house on a day trip with Goldie closed up in the linen closet! Luckily, we always do a head count before we leave, and ever since then the doors are never completely shut.

Each of our cats has his or her own way of dealing with the occasional shut door, or, as is more the norm, one that is ajar. The two male cats have no problem just pushing their way in in the latter case, while Little Girl will usually just sit outside the door and politely yell until she's invited in. Goldie will take a couple of tentative pushes at the door, then just stand up and push with his whole body, sending the door flying open. The Bear, ever subtle, does his signature front paw insertion technique: He pushes his front paw in between door and frame, then, slowly, extends his entire arm and shoulder until the door is open enough for him to walk in. It's very funny to watch from inside the room he's entering. We call this "The Long Arm of the Paw" routine.

By the way, never allow cats to bat at each other through the hinge side of a partially opened door--all it takes is one cat pushing on the door while the other's paw is in between to cause a nasty injury!
Chat later!

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Amanda has worked with animals for many years and has always had cats in her life. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two excellent cats.
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