Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

September 9, 2013

Cathie Shaffer: Capturing the kitties: 9/10/13

Cathie Shaffer
The Independent

ASHLAND — Like little kids, the young cats decided to run away from home last week. And like little kids, they didn’t go far. In fact, they pretty much stayed in my yard and that of my daughter who lives beside me.

Ever since we brought the girl kitty Batman into the house, she and Bitsy have been inseparable. Bitsy is the older by a month or so, but you assume when you see them together Batman is the leader.

She is, after all, the most vocal, the highest jumper and the first to find something to get into.

Bitsy, however, is the chief escape artist. Being small lets her slip out much more easily than the bigger Batman although both cats are pretty fast out the door when they’re in the mood.

For three days last week, we chased those cats. They were both out and they both refused to come in. I can’t blame them; the weather was beautiful, the birds were taunting them and they’re young. But living on a busy street, our fear is they’ll dart out and get smooshed by a car.

I figured they’d come in when they got hungry. That theory was shot down in Batman’s case when I learned she’d found a loose piece of screen at my daughter’s. Turns out she made regular visits into that house to play with my daughter’s small dog and to eat the food set out for the cat of that house.

Those two cats teased us by showing up at the back door like they so wanted in and running away as soon as we stepped foot outside. I could look out the front door and see them on the porch. I could even go onto the porch and talk to them. But the second I got within grabbing distance, they were gone.

Batman caved first. She’s my cuddle kitty, curling up beside me as I watch TV and demanding attention as soon as I wake in the morning. I captured her on the second day and carried her into the house.

As I said, those two cats are inseparable. So I figured it was just a matter of time before Bitsy got lonely and decided she wanted in, too.

I underestimated how much she dislikes living with a half-grown lab that thinks the cats ought to play with her at all times. I’d almost have her coaxed to come in and then she’d either catch side of the lab or hear her bark and off she’d go again.

My oldest grandgirl spent a whole day trying to capture the elusive Bitsy and admitted defeat to me when I got home from work.

I’m not as easily beaten. I know my cats and I also know that “Who wants to eat?” is the magic phrase that draws them to the kitchen each morning. So I grabbed the canister of cat food and went outside, prepared to grab Bitsy when she came to the magic sound of the shaken container.

As you might suspect, she was too sly for that. So I poured food into a dish, set it just inside the back door and called her again.

She almost came in.

Almost.

So I finally decided to think like a cat. What would be so tempting I’d throw caution to the wind?

I ended up dousing the dry cat food with a healthy dollop of the creamed chicken I’d made for supper. Bitsy approached and caved. I grabbed her and the bowl and brought them both into the house.

Apparently the two of them have learned their lesson. In the three days since their capture, only Batman has attempted to go back outside and that was only a half-hearted attempt.

But here’s the weird thing. My Tabby cat, who’s 5 now, has been impossible to keep in. Yet while we kept the doors cracked open in hopes of enticing the babies in, she was perfectly content to stay inside the house alone.

I figure it’s one of two things. Maybe she’s finally gotten old enough to realize she’s got a good thing going and she better not jeopardize it.

Or she has absolutely too much dignity to hang with the terrible twosome of Bit and Bat.

CATHIE SHAFFER can be reached at cathie.shaffer@zoominternet.net.