My Cats and the Escape Artist

| March 3, 2020 | 0 Comments

We have two cats, Lord Harry S. Plushbottom, an 18-pound ragdoll who goes by “Harry,” and a nine pound black cat, Cayman Last, known as Cayman.  (My daughter’s last name is Last and should Cayman outlive us, he will become a member of the Last family.)  Harry is gentle, slow moving, and is content with the status quo.  The other cat, Cayman is hyperactive, impulsive, impetuous, sometimes a bit clumsy, and very strong minded.  Because we live on a canyon, all of our cats have been indoor cats for the past 15 years.  (We lost two to coyotes in broad daylight in one year, one was lunch, the other high tea.)

To keep our cats off the streets and out of the garden, we allow our cats to enjoy our two balconies: one is off the living room and is fairly high up; the second is off our bedroom, where it becomes a mere eight foot jump at its west end.  To keep the cats from the yard, we have put pots of succulents and cacti on the railing of our lower balcony. In addition, we have a gate to the bedroom balcony, originally to ensure that a returning cat’s mouth was empty of live or dead creatures and to keep racoons and other uninvited strangers from entering the house.  The gate and spiny succulents have worked beautifully for the past 15 years. 

The other night, during a rainstorm, my husband asked, “Have you seen Cayman?”  He got out of bed and proceeded to search the entire house: closets, freezer, refrigerator, oven, dishwasher, washing machine, dryer—all places he has been known to enter for his own reasons.  No cat.  I got up and searched the same places including pantries and garage.  No cat.  Sleepless, we lay in bed wondering if this cat, like so many others, would be coyote food.  Finally, my husband got up and walked to the outside door by his office.  There sat Cayman, protected by the small recess next to the door.

We had dinner guests the following night.  “Is your cat outside the front door?” asked one of the guests.  “He shouldn’t be.  Go see.”  Sure enough, in walked Cayman.  Two of us have very keen noses.  Cayman had not been sprayed, but he had obviously lain in a place where a skunk had been.  The smell was faint, but it was definitely skunk.

After the guests had left, we couldn’t find Cayman. My husband went to every door and balcony calling him. Nothing. I found a flashlight and went out. I walked all the way around the house to the garden outside our bedroom balcony (We call it Little Tuscany).  I called. Nothing. I shined my flashlight into the succulents in the garden. No Cayman.  I called again.  Beside me sat the little twerp!

We brought him in, moved the litter boxes and cat food to the family room and locked our bedroom door.  We always sleep with the balcony door open, as I hate sleeping without fresh, hopefully cold, air.  Throughout the night Cayman sounded like a cat in heat. (He is a neutered male.) The next day, I went up to Solana Succulents and then to several other nurseries and hardware stores where I purchased evil looking cacti and pots in which to plant them. It took two days and one more hardware store, but amongst my husband, my grandson and me, the stage was set. Yesterday evening I opened the balcony door and stood on the balcony to watch.  About three minutes later, Pip Squeak (another of his nicknames) had leapt to the corner and was standing on lethal cacti, ready to jump.

We spent the night with the balcony door shut, food and kitty litter box in the family room and both cats on our bed. 

My husband just returned with a piece of plywood with which he plans to block Cayman’s escape.  If that works, we will have a glass panel installed.  If not, I don’t know.  I asked my daughter if she would take Cayman and we’d pay all his expenses.  She said a definite no.  She will when we can no longer care for pets.

I hope the barrier works!

The March 26 Mission Hills Garden Club meeting will feature Bill Tall speaking about Why We Do What We Do to Maintain our Gardens. 

Harry (left) lounges with Cayman, the escape artist.

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Category: Animals, Local News

About the Author ()

Barbara Strona is a native Californian who grew up in the Mid-West and Los Angeles. She and her architect husband, Carl, came to San Diego in 1968 and have lived in Mission Hills since early 1971. Barbara received a Bachelor of Arts from Scripps College with a major in English, and a minor in Art. She attended UCLA graduate school and received a General Secondary Credential. She taught English in Los Angeles, Pennsylvania, and at Point Loma High School. She has been a Realtor specializing in residential sales since 1984. Her passions include her job, reading, writing, foreign languages and foreign countries, animals (feathered or furry), theatre, and her family: husband, two adult children and two grandsons.