Monday, March 26, 2007


The bathtub faucet is dripping like a nose in January and its starting to get on my nerves as well as my water bill. Since my plumbing prowess is better expressed as free form art with soppy towels however, I am loath to pick up the entirely wrong wrench, strip the thread off a nut and wind up mortgaging the house for a plumber's visit after all.

So I ignore it. Not to say entirely. I work on it the way I work on most daunting projects. I open an access panel.

This seems to do the trick and is a skill I learned in marriage. Opening an access panel to the problem gives all the appearances of addressing and solving the problem. It does however, keep you safely out of range of the problem in that you are not actually working ON it. Just AT or AROUND it.

It was a charm. Plumbing? Open an access panel. Wiring? Flip the door of the circuit breaker. Wash windows? Artfully position a ladder and bucket. Car trouble? Pop the hood. Of course now I'm only deceiving myself but I am taking solace and comfort in that I am doing SOMETHING which is of course better than doing NOTHING.

The back of the bathtub abuts the toilet in the knob and tube palace. So there's a double benefit. Pull off the access panel and use downtime to study the plumbing pattern from a seated position. Did you know there's a whole lot of space under the bathtub? Like a crawlspace or a neat place to hide things. Opening the thing presents a world of opportunity. Its an education, seated.

But that's not the point. I came here to talk about my cat.

Ripley is a kitten, approaching one year but with the kitty intellect of a newborn that's been dropped once or twice. This is not to say she's entirely stupid but you'd think that the feedback from her chomping her own tail once or twice would begin to make an impression.

Apparently not.

I adopted Ripley and brought her home. I've had a number of cats in my life. We, and later I, have always tried to introduce them into their new environment in a controlled and gentle manner. We put Mumble in a spare bedroom, closed the door, let her play with her toys and, it being spring, opened the window for her to let fresh air past the screen.

Did you know that the smallest, seemly most innocuous holes in a screen are usually just big enough for a cat?

She's fine. We dragged her back in as she was half out and mumbling old Jimmy Cagney lines.

We introduced Crittur to the same room and kept her separate from Mumble for a few days. Ruby is his own story and Boomer got the run of the living room where we promptly forgot she was in there for a couple of weeks. That might explain a lot about Boom.

Ripley was going to be done exactly right. I set her cage up in a study, put food, water, litter and toys in the room, opened the cage door and went to get a towel for her to lie on.

And left the door open.

I mean, what the hell. The cat is hunched up in the back of her cage, all these new inputs are causing her to overload and freeze on the spot, what could possibly happen?

Oh, well, she could get out.

Which of course, being a cat she did. Cats are like little testing grounds for the laws of physics. If you've got a concept of a certain mass occupying a certain fixed space you probably also have a cat testing that boundary. Ok, she dashed. Under the couch. I get that. Cats and couches just naturally go together. But when she wedged herself between the wall and the radiator I could only envision a little orange grilled cheese furrball. Talked her out of there and she headed for parts unknown and I lost her for a day or so. But what's to worry? The doors are closed, it's January, windows are shut. The cat can not actually get out of the house.

So I put food in helpful places and let her find her way around the house. Sure, it was an immersion course, but one she had chosen for herself. She found food, the litterbox, string, where all the dustbunnies are kept.

And on the second night she found Boomer. That did not go well. No one was hurt, but Boomer found that she had issues with another cat in what was now exclusively her space. Ripley bolted, Boomer hot on her trail and one chased the other until the other ensconced herself in a really good hiding space. I figured she'd come back out after she'd calmed down and got hungry. So I left more food in helpful places and waited for Ripley.

Who never actually showed up.

After about three days of invisi-cat, I decided to do a room by room toss of the house. Close a door, look under, in, on top of and anywhere around every surface, nook, cranny or physical space too small for a vole but apparently not for a cat.

All rooms accounted for. No cat.

That was interesting. In a disturbing, mess with the laws of physics way. Checked every room again.

No cat.

Even checked the bathroom. Even jokingly looked down the bathtub drain.

Which brings me back to plumbing and access.

Even though the access panel to the back of the tub was off, I had pushed a large cupboard up against the opening. I keep toiletries; razors, shaving cream, mouthwash, fourteen tubes of toothpaste (I don't make grocery lists and short term memory is kind of shot) and paper towels in it. It's a heavy cupboard with a 2 inch clearance underneath.

Like I said, not really enough space for a vole.

A cat, however...


Can't be.

Cat under the tub?


Entertained the possibility but put it out of my mind. Left food in helpful places, even a bowl by the alleged escape route which was now cleared so the cat could, if she had gone there in the first place, get out with relative ease.

Next morning, food hadn't been touched. Cat had to be somewhere in the house I hadn't thought of yet. Well, that was a fun theory until I heard clawing at the ceiling. Well, in the ceiling to be more precise.

Yep, the cat is in the crawlspace.


Blogger Sis said...

I look forward to Part Deux...

9:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Poor little Ripley....

Boomer sounds like our Zoe. Zoe wants to be the baby. Actually, Zoe wants to be an only cat.

Sadly for her, that is not likely to happen.

Now, back to The Adventures of Ripley, Believe it or Not.

11:50 AM  

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