Most times I love our two housecats or are pretty much indifferent to them. They're cute and a lot of fun.
Other times, they are so annoying, they could send a Buddhist Monk over the edge. Not being a monk, imagine the effect they have on me.
Every morning, the "boys", as they are called, want desperately to get through the kitchen door out into the garage where their favourite kitty litter tray awaits. The one in the basement is too confining, it seems, with its attached hood, as it appears even they cannot stand the lovely scent left behind by their visits. Better to head out to the uncovered pan in the garage where a cat can sit upright and have a good think while waiting for nature to unfold.
None of this is the annoying part.
This is what infuriates:
Among the truly awful things in life – you can devise your own list – is soggy breakfast cereal. I make sure every day that I have all necessary items in place at the table before I take the irreversible step of pouring the milk on the crisp new flakes, or rice puffs or mini wheats, or whatever. Because once that liquid hits the solids, the window of opportunity for eating your cereal at its tastiest best is a very small one. We're talking seconds, not minutes. The flakes begin to degrade the moment they are soaked and must be inserted in mouth quickly or they become milk-saturated corn mush before your very eyes.
Now, this is where the boys come in. Literally, come in.
I know cats don't understand anything about soggy cereal but I am perfectly aware of the fact that they have very good hearing. In light of that, I don't know whether they wait for certain sounds to impress their eardrums before making their move, but here's how it goes.
I pull out my chair, sit down, pour the milk, lift two bites with my spoon and…
Scratch, Scratch, Scratch, Scratch!
Ignore the sounds of cats scratching at the door to get back in, I am advised, but I cannot. I bolt from my chair, and rush to the door. Sensing my annoyance, they hang back when the door opens, not sure what awaits. When they finally make their move, they shoot through the opening like bullets through a gun barrel.
Back at the table, I face a mess of steadily deteriorating flakes. This does not amuse.
I have tried to outsmart them but the only sure thing I have discovered in my 56 years is that the cat always wins.
So, I pull in the chair and bang my spoon against the cereal bowl a couple of times. In short, I make all the sounds I would if I were actually eating.
Not a scratch to be heard.
I recently waited five minutes to prove to my unbelieving family that I was not imagining things.
I picked up the milk, poured it carefully across the flakes, and sprinkled on some sugar..
Scratch, scratch, scratch.
Can cats possibly hear the sound of milk being poured on cornflakes from 15 feet away through a thick, wooden door?
I believe they can.
And I believe in another old saying about these strange creatures we allow to walk around our homes.
The cat is always on the wrong side of the door.
Back to my opening paragraph. Sometimes I love 'em, sometimes I don't, and sometimes I'm indifferent.
Other times, I look down to see this little defiant bundle of flesh and bones walking across our floors and wonder what odd creatures humans are to willingly share their space with such beings.
Someday, I know, they'll be gone and I'll feel bad.
Except at breakfast time.