Watching and waiting.
Waiting and watching.
The cats examine the piece of shiny foil spread out before the door like a welcome mat. In this case — an unwelcome mat.
As winter seeps through the cracks into the house, our cats become cuddle bugs – i.e., opportunistic heat vampires.
However, the red-blooded humans aren’t around all the time to sit on. The heaps of heated blankets and cat beds the humans buy for them apparently don’t meet with their inspection. What the cats want more than anything is to enter the terrarium set to reflect the temperatures of a hot Australian desert.
But I’m through with the cats’ walkabouts. Both cats have found their way inside the enclosure and, while they don’t seem to want to eat the bearded dragon that lives there, that’s his home, darn it.
Sealing off the room itself hasn’t worked — the cats can open doors. So I consulted the multitude of enthusiastic bearded dragon owners who dwell online.
In return, I got unhelpful advice like “don’t have cats.” Also came product links aplenty, sponsored and affiliated. Douse the room in a foul-smelling spray that the cats won’t like. Cover everything with expensive sticky stuff that the cats won’t paw. But as adding bad smells and stickiness doesn’t tend to improve the overall aesthetic, I kept looking.
When the recommendation came for deploying “cat spikes” that would be right at home during the Inquisition, I thought there has to be a better way.
Enter evolutionary biology. Or ancestral memory. Or just mysterious things that work.
Years ago, I had the pleasure of going to Bali, Indonesia, where it’s popular to hike Mount Batur at sunrise. Resident monkeys are used to tourists and know all about the pre-wrapped hiking snacks they stow in their backpacks. The monkeys will jump on you and lift what they want from your bag, or just abscond with the entire thing. Once you stop at elevation to enjoy the view, they descend on hikers in determined packs.
Our guide, though, did a thing: He placed a rope around our group. The rope wasn’t anything special — it’s the same type of rope you’d see monkeys swing from at the zoo — and it just sat on the ground. Yet the monkeys wouldn’t cross it.
We puzzled over this phenomena. Did it remind them of snakes? Of ancestral memories of captivity? But our guide just told us: “The monkeys don’t like the rope.”
My cats don’t like aluminum foil. Unfurling a piece causes them to scatter in a panic. We’ve tried to dissect this mystery — is it the noise, the shiny surface, an ancestral fear of leftovers? — to no avail. The cats just don’t like aluminum foil. So today, the unwelcome mat sits by the doorway, shiny and smooth. Foil also tops the terrarium.
I don’t know what the bearded dragon thinks of its home security system, but it seems to be working.
If it doesn’t go the distance, we’ll have to figure out something else. I’ll see if Amazon sells any cucumber decoys.
Watching and waiting.