A closed door is an affront to a cat. I am firmly convinced it infringes their feline rights. When it is shut, our two sit fixedly by the patio door (their usual exit into the garden), occasionally glaring at us with an accusing “Why is this shut?” sort of look. As soon as we open it, they thrust their noses into the space to have a good sniff at the outside world, just making sure that their empire is still intact, but they show no inclination to actually go out. They are simply exercising their right to have the option. During the summer, we leave the door open for them to come and go, although it does occasionally backfire when other cats are about, as it did last year. However, in the winter even we draw the line at sitting in the cold, just so they can get some fresh air. One day recently, I had the impudence to try gently encouraging Calamity outside with my foot. She looked round with an expression of utter outrage on her face and backed away from the door. “I was only looking!” she seemed to be telling me – and loudly too. “Would you want to go out in this weather?”
Another of Calamity’s demands recently has been to explore all the built-in storage in the house. There is a whole collection of tantalising closed doors, just teasing her with their possibilities. You may remember we hid their Christmas presents in a cupboard in the study and it seems to have left a lasting suspicion that she is missing out on something interesting. The hall cupboard holds a particular fascination and she will sit and cry outside it until we open it for her to get inside. Once in, she realises that there isn’t really anything worth her notice to be found, and she wanders out again nonchalantly. We close the door and half an hour later, we repeat the whole process. Sometimes it is the fitted wardrobes in the study – she may never have been in a particular cupboard before but she is suddenly desperate to get in and her cries can be heart-rending. Occasionally, she will curl up inside one of them for a nap but most of the time she has a good look, and then comes back out, looking bewildered, as if she isn’t quite sure why she wanted to be in there in the first place.
This very peculiar habit hit a new low recently, when we were awoken in the night by a blood-curdling howl. We shot up in bed, convinced that there was something seriously wrong with one of them. We found Calamity sitting mournfully next to the wardrobe in the bedroom. “It’s shut”, she appeared to wail, “and I need to get inside”. We tried to distract her with promises of cuddles but she would not be moved. In the end, we opened the door and, once she had convinced herself it didn’t hold anything more interesting than our hanging clothes and their travel baskets, she came back to bed and settled down. A couple of nights later, we went through it all again. In order to get an unbroken night’s sleep, I spent the next Saturday morning clearing out the bottom of the wardrobe and turning their travel baskets into 2 cosy cat beds. We now ceremoniously open the doors each night as we go to bed and haven’t been disturbed since. Of course, Calamity has spent every night curled up with us. She has the option to get into the wardrobe and that is the battle won.