Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks
Wednesday, February 05, 2003 Sock it to Me
With Trash out of town, I’m in the middle of another bachelor week at home. There are socks scattered all over the house. Believe it or not, there is no causal relationship between those two facts.
Our cats are like small children in that their interest in a particular toy is inversely proportional to the amount of money it cost. They have a fifteen-dollar windup mouse that will skitter the length of the kitchen floor under its own power, but they’d much rather chase a tossed sandwich wrapper from Arby’s. And their cat beds and cat blankets have gone ignored because there’s no place they’d rather curl up than inside a grocery bag or under a newspaper. Yes, our cats like to pretend that they are not pampered royalty with a basket full of toys, but destitute housing-project vermin who have nothing to play with but refuse. Charming, really.
But recently, like in the last couple of weeks, they’ve discovered the joy of an entirely new category of plaything: socks.
They’re not picky about choosing the socks. Clean, dirty, mine, Trash’s, single, or balled-up in pairs, there’s nothing to stop them from stealing a bit of footwear, carrying it around the house, and dropping it whenever they get bored. Or, as is more likely, judging from the number of socks lying around, whenever they decide it’s time to get new socks.
Don’t ask me how the cats learned how to open drawers. We don’t keep our socks in drawers; there isn’t room. They go in a laundry hamper. I don’t know which is odder: that the cats took over a decade to figure out they could swipe socks whenever they wanted, or that they decided that stealing them was worthwhile at all. In any case, when we come home from work our house looks like Bluto Blutarsky has moved in and he thinks the hatch to the laundry chute could be hidden anywhere in the floor.
For a few days, it was kind of irritating because we never knew whether the socks were clean or dirty when we found them. They seemed equally willing to help themselves to the clean sock hamper and the dirty clothes hamper. Then we figured, if they were dirty, they needed to be washed anyway. If they were clean, then they’ve now been transported from room to room in the same mouths that the cats use to clean their anuses. So at least that question has been answered. But it’s still irritating.
We haven’t actually caught either one of them in the act yet, so we don’t know if it’s both of them or just one of them that’s doing it. My money’s on Orca, though, and here’s why:
When she first came to live with us, she was quite the little thief. I’m not just talking about the fish stick incident, which I will now recount. During her first month in our apartment, Trash and I were in the bedroom, having just finished a fish stick dinner. There were a couple still left on the tray, and Orca sneaked up, grabbed one in her mouth, and tore out for the kitchen with the contraband food sticking out between her teeth like a Groucho Marx cigar. I chased her down, she realized she was cornered, dropped the fish stick, and dashed away. I picked it up, threw it in the garbage, and made to return to the bedroom, only to collide with Trash on my way back. Trash, you see, was chasing down Orca, who was trying to make off with her second fish stick in as many minutes.
That wasn’t all she stole. You know how you can get a big bag of assorted unshelled nuts, and as you go through them you drop the empty shells in a big bowl? Orca would raid that bowl. But the weird thing is, she would only steal the walnut shells. Pecan, almond, hazelnut, peanut shells held no attraction for her. But the walnut shells called out to her with a song she could not ignore.
Of course, once she had the shells, there was the question of what to do with them. It’s not like she had a place to stash them, so they just ended up scattered on the living room rug. One morning Trash awoke to hear me yelping my barefoot way to the bathroom. I explained that overnight, the living room had become a minefield of spent legume casings. She went back to sleep. When she woke up, I was gone for the day and the rug was a toe-slashing obstacle course.
“Why didn’t you pick up the walnut shells?” she asked me later.
“I did,” I said truthfully. Orca had simply retrieved them and laid them out again.
“Well, at least she wasn’t stealing money from you,” you chuckle indulgently.
Yes, she was. She just couldn’t spend it. She would dig around in our change jar and fish out quarters—just the quarters—and they would end up scattered among the walnut shells on the floor. I don’t know how rare it is for cats to have both kleptomania and OCD, but we were just about ready to call the circus when she got over it. The next time we rearranged the furniture, we discovered that she’d had a couple of places to stash her loot after all, but the behavior appeared to be over.
Now it’s back, but it’s in a new form and it’s increasing my laundry load (as well as making it look like I can’t carry a hamper from room to room without leaking socks all over the place).
This is the point where I would be expected to drop some kind of punchline like “what I really need is someone who’ll steal my cat,” but that’s not even true enough to be amusing. In fact, I had a killer ending paragraph all ready to go, but I have no idea where it is now. I’ll probably find it under the sofa next week. posted by M. Giant 3:32 PM 0 comments