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Saturday, February 18, 2006  

Barrier? I Hardly Know 'Er!

When Strat first came to live with us, lo these many years ago, we somehow had the idea that he shouldn't have the run of the whole apartment. Maybe it's because we didn't want him clawing the living room furniture, or because he hadn't been fixed yet and was still spraying. Whatever the case, we decided that he should be confined to the part of the apartment with the bedrooms, the bathroom, and the hallway, while the kitchen and living room would be off-limits. That was the theory, anyway.

In practice, what we had to do was block off the archway between the hallway and the living room. One of the bedrooms also opened out to the living room, but that wasn't a problem because we could simply close the door. For the open archway, we had to improvise a bit. So we stuck a low, backless bookcase into the gap, with the books still in it. In theory, this would be ideal, because it would stop the cat, but we'd still be able to step over it easily.

I had never had a cat before, so I didn't know what was gong to happen. But we quickly learned that an exuberant kitten like Strat had no qualms about pushing books out of his way onto the floor. And worse yet, leaving them there. Philistine.

Obviously our barrier needed to be shored up. So it quickly evolved into a waist-high beaver dam built around the bookcase, including a folded card table and chairs, a number of strategically placed coffee table books, and a laundry basket or two. I'd like to say we recognized the futility of this effort the first time we watched Strat burrow effortlessly through the crap wall we'd put up, forcing us, the humans, to go around through the bedroom door to chase him and get him back on his side of the wall--a wall that was clearly only blocking the humans in the house. But it was more like ten times before we gave up, dismantled the wall, and became a happier household overall.

I'm also glad that since those days, Trash and I have learned about the existence of these fabulous inventions called "baby gates." Because once M. Small started walking, not only would one of our beaver dams not have stood a chance before his determination, he would have been much better at knocking them down entirely. And then we would have been spending all of our time reconstructing them.

His "free" area has grown as he has. At first, we blocked off the living room. Then one day I was cleaning the kitchen, and suddenly he was in there with me. "He figured out how to get through this gate," Trash told me from the other side of it. So we had to retire that gate, but since it was the only one wide enough to block off the entryway, the entryway was now part of his free area, which now stopped at the doorway between entryway and kitchen. Not long after that, the hallway and his nursery were opened up to his wanderings. We of course kept (and continue to keep) the bathroom door closed when he's awake, because we can't find a toilet lock that isn't completely useless. And then, this last week, we opened up the entire main floor. Living room, hallway, nursery, study, kitchen, everything but the bathroom.

And is he happy? No. He keeps getting mad when he bumps up against the gate blocking off the basement stairs, or the one blocking his access to the upstairs, or the closed bathroom door, or the closed front door. That one's a particular irritant, if his habit of bringing us his coat and repeating "bye bye" over and over is any indication.

And now that Strat's fifteen and diabetic, he can barely clear the gate at the bottom of the stairs. We're always having to take the gate down at night so he can move around freely. Why didn't someone tell us about baby gates when we were twenty-one? Well, baby gates and diabetes, anyway.

Today's best search phrase: "Hoodwinking Google." Yeah, good luck with that.

posted by M. Giant 9:18 AM 2 comments

2 Comments:

We just started using gates at the stairs for my niece. Otherwise she has free reign. If she's downstairs she goes wherever she wants, but somehow still knows to avoid the Living Room no one is allowed in. But she stands by the gate crying like we put her in jail and she needs to escape. Why do kids insist on being mobile. It makes grown up's very tired.

By Blogger Libragirl, at February 20, 2006 at 1:42 PM  

The whole "Kittens know no boundaries" thing is EXACTLY why we haven't gotten another one... and thus have His Emperial Highness, Fynn. If you get a sec, I'm totally tagging you with a meme.

By Blogger Meepers, at February 23, 2006 at 12:08 AM  

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