Bezirk [1] in Berlin© – 18:  November 2, 2011

 WILLIAM, THE WONDER CAT, AND THE 2012 OLYMPICS

Young Master William is in training for a new event in the Olympics – the Destructo-thon.  This particular event differs from typical events in that you are required to select your own activities and, indeed, the number of points you accrue is based on:

(1)  The creativity of your destructive methodologies;

(2)  The number of your destructive methodologies; and

(3)  Of course, your execution of these activities.

So far, William has come up with the following activities (and, given the destructiveness of his results, I must say they are well executed):

  •  Objet d’art shattering—inwhich William helps to diminish the number of things his parents have collected over the decades so that our human son will have fewer things to deal with upon our demise.
  • Vase breaking—Although the judges may determine that this falls into the category of objet d’art shattering, I maintain that it is a separate activity entirely, as it often involves rearranging the flowers contained in the vase, with the new arrangement often not even being confined to a single room.
  • Sheet eating—which is among the more mystifying of these activities, given that cats tend to chew on things that are crunchy (see ‘basket eating’) or things that have drawn attention to themselves by their motion.  In this case, the sheets are not flapping in the breeze while they dry, but are lying flat on the bed, quite motionless.  Nor is the point of attack something that protrudes a little, such as a wrinkle on the corner.  Instead, he goes right to the middle of the mattress to pick up a piece of sheet and chew a hole in it.
  • Basket eating—Which requires a certain craftiness on his part, because we try to keep all baskets behind closed doors.  He, of course, doesn’t see this as a problem, continually rising to the challenge of slipping through the door whenever the opportunity presents itself.
  • Knocking paintings off the wall—while on a one-cat stampede from the front of the flat to the back of the flat, a distance of about 40 ft., which allows him to reach a speed of what seems like 100 mph.  So the pound-per-square inch of the paw (about 1 square inch) of a cat weighing about 11.25 pounds going 100 mph is??   Well, I looked up the formula on Google (1 pound per square inch (psi) = 6 894.75729 pascals) but you’ll have to do the math yourself.  I’m a bit vague on these ‘pascal’ thingies myself.  Wikipedia says a pascal is “a measure of force per unit area, defined as one newton per square metre.” OK.  So the only ‘newton’ I know about is the Fig Newton and I’m still trying to work on metric conversion.  But, off-hand, I’d guess that if there was something 1 inch square, and it weighed over 11 pounds, and it hit you going 100 mph, you’re definitely going to feel it, regardless of the carefully calculated psi.
  • Pulling shower curtain rods out of the wall—note that this is not just pulling the shower curtain down, but rather pulling the rod out of the wall, leaving huge, nasty holes in the plaster and requiring at least 3 trips to various hardware stores to get everything needed to repair it).  For full effect, this was executed about 2 days before houseguest were expected to arrive, creating a greater sense of urgency with respect to getting it fixed.  I think he should get extra points for the extra angst it caused us.
  • Paper shredding Yes, I know, it seems drop-dead simple, and, in most cases it is.  However, you must include it in your repertoire for the Destructo-thon, lest the judges think, “What?  You can’t shred paper?  What kind of a cat ARE you??”  William plans to include the full range of paper shredding – toilet paper, Kleenex, printer paper, books/magazines, and paper towels.  True, the bar is pretty low for success in most of these areas, especially with toilet paper and, in general, paper towels.  However, where I’m sure William will blow the judges away is in the paper towel shredding.  This is because he managed to overcome a significant barrier to gaining access to the paper towels (which, in most cases, are in plain sign and not much of a challenge).  However, we have a very special place for keeping our supply of spare paper towel rolls.  At first glance, it appears that we keep them in the refrigerator.  Given the tiny refrigerator, that would not seem to be particularly rational.  However, we don’t actually keep them in the refrigerator (although you must open the refrigerator door to get to them).  Our refrigerator is camouflaged to look like just another cabinet in our kitchen.  (This has caused us some angst because, with the door being covered with wood laminate, we can’t affix any of our magnets to the refrigerator door and therefore must display our fine collection of cat butt magnets on our radiator, where they are barely visible.)  The refrigerator itself starts about 10 inches above the floor.  However, the door extends all the way to the floor (or as close to the floor as the other cabinet doors do).  The space between the bottom of the fridge and the bottom of the cabinet door provides a rather handy storage area (which, not being in the habit of lying face-down on the kitchen floor – the only perspective from which we could have noticed this area—we didn’t discover until William went into it when the door was opened.)  So, to get to the supply of paper towels, William had to figure out how to open the refrigerator door, from the bottom.  Much to our dismay and astonishment, he’s figured out how to do this.  We plan to wait and see whether he remembers that he can do this before we give up what is truly valuable storage space.  This time, he had an advantage because the cellophane wrapper for the paper towel package was showing beneath the door.  We plan to be more careful with this in the future.  However, if we do have to give it up, perhaps we can store more durable things there, such as bottles of beer.
  • Human tripping—William has added a special dimension to this trick—he has a collapsible kitty ‘tunnel’ and, as you’re walking through the room, he heads for that tunnel –making you think that you’re relatively safe because he’s going in a completely different direction.  BUT, this is just a ruse, because he just detours through it on his way to darting between your legs.  It requires extra speed and agility, so this may get him some extra points.
  • Jewelry stealing–in which he manages to open the drawer to my dressing table, select a piece of jewelry that suits his fancy, and then bats it about the room while we sleep, leaving me to almost step on it the next morning, because, of course, I’m not expecting there to be a bracelet on the floor.
  • Laundry meddling—Like most common folks in Europe, we have no clothes dryer so we hang our wet clothes on a fold-up clothes rack and let them air dry.  Clearly, the energy cost savings is appreciable (although we must endure stiff, scratchy towels and wrinkled perma-press clothes).  There are 2 options for handing the clothes on the rack—specifically, with or without clothes pins.  Our son is a ‘without clothes pins’ person; we are ‘with clothes pins’ people, using brightly colored plastic clothes pins.  With either method, a house inhabited by cats runs the risk of having a heavily populated clothes rack serve as a feline amusement park.  Needless to say, the ‘without clothes pins’ method really doesn’t offer much of a challenge.  William has chosen to compete in the ‘with clothes pins’ competition.  If past performance is any indicator, we expect he will dominate this particular event. Some of you may be old enough to recall the structure of a clothes pin, with 2 legs held together with a spring.  Before moving to Berlin, I only saw them used in conjunction with art projects for small children, where they used the wooden ones as the foundation for such things as making reindeer at Christmas time.  There is no end to William’s fascination for the mechanics of this simple device.  He likes to chew on them when he has the chance, but yesterday I found evidence of some far more highly developed skill.  On the clothes rack, there was ½ a clothes pin – or rather 2/3 of one, since one leg and the spring remained on the clothes rack in such a way as to continue to fasten the corner of my sweater to the rack.  I found the other leg several feet away; I can only imagine the convoluted path it took to get to this final destination.  Here is what I want to know:  how was William able to disengage a single leg from the clothes pin while cleverly leaving the remaining part on the clothes rack, without otherwise disturbing the sweater or the clothes rack?  Remember that this is an animal with NO thumbs!!  His other trick—which he reserves for when we are dead asleep in bet—is jumping on the whole apparatus, causing it to collapse in a heap on the floor, much to the dismay of our downstairs neighbor.
  • Floor mat gnawing—which, of course, involves those kinda pricey padded mats I have in the kitchen – the kind that are supposed to be far more gentle on your back and feet than standing on the hard floor.  After all, what’s the point in destroying a mat you can easily replace for about 10 Euros?)
  • Rug de-shagging—which involves very methodically pulling each individual ‘shag’ from the shag rugs in the bathroom.  The first thing he does when I open the door to the bathroom is to plot himself down on the rug and start examine the shags to determine which ones should come out next.

 In many of these activities, William has the advantage of being Siamese.  This breed tends to have pica, which is a pattern of eating non-food materials (such as dirt or paper).  So, the next time you get to thinking that a big spoonful of dirt would taste really yummy, you should know you have pica.  This craving for non-food substances is a powerful motivator for destructive activities.  It’s as though these cats are chocolate addicts who perceive everything in the world to be made of chocolate.  I hope that the judges don’t penalize William for this advantage over some of the other entrants in the Destructo-thon event.  As you can see by this list, given the number of activities and the signature flourishes that William puts on even the most mundane of these activities, we have high hopes that William will bring home the gold medal!

By the way, young Master William is now weighing in at 11.6 pounds (5.6 kilos), so his weight should give him some advantage.  Even if he is limited to competing with his only his fellow Siamese, he’ll still have an advantage as this breed typically doesn’t get this big.

 AND FURTHERMORE…..

Lest you assume that William’s interests are limited to athletics, I must assure you that he also has intellectual pursuits.  As you can see, he also loves to curl up with a good book or two.  Please take a moment to review his literary choices.

NOTE:  To FULLY appreciate Evie’s wonderful cartoons, please enlarge your screen so you can see the extra little tidbits she’s added!

 

ON TRAINING CATS

Despite our most fervent efforts, we have been unable to dissuade William from getting onto the kitchen counter top.  As it turns out, we have been successful only in getting him to understand that we don’t want him there, so he is now trained to jump down when he sees us coming.  And we have found out that, when we yell “NO!” – repeatedly and loudly – and then put him in the powder room to think about what he’s done, he has a totally different interpretation of our actions.  He apparently believes that our intent is to protect him from our irrational behavior (as manifested by yelling at him and treating him briskly rather than speaking to him sweetly while we pet him) and that we simply put him in there for his own protection until we can calm down.  In the meanwhile, he just makes himself comfortable on the nice warm, fluffy rug and waits patiently.

 WILLIAM HAS YET ANOTHER CLAIM TO FAME

There may be yet another place that will be blessed by William’s presence – our vet wants to put his photo on her website.  It’s not there yet, but at some point you may be able to see him (and his much-neglected sister, Electra) here:  info@tierarztpraxis-in- kreuzberg.de

 


[1] ‘Bezirk’ is German for ‘neighborhood.’

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