For the past few days, I have noticed muddy little footprints on the toilet seat and around the sink. I knew the cats walked these areas, even though I squirt them with the water bottle every time I catch them*, but I couldn't figure out where the dirt was coming from. We have three doormats** between the back door and the kitchen*** and I vacuum and wash the kitchen and bathroom floor every week. The basement, also not dirty. So whence the dirt?
I'll tell you. Shirley has decided that the heating tubes or whatever you call them -- those big square metal tubes just under the ceiling -- in the basement are her personal amusement park and has been jumping up there and sauntering about, getting herself and her feet filthy in the process. I knew she was getting up there because I heard the racket last week and had moved what I thought was her access point, the cat carrier stacked on top of the snow tires.
But no. She figured out another way: jump from the snow tires, which until last night were just to the left of the water heater, on to the water heater and from there on to the tubes.
How did we figure this out? When SH got home last night after a week in Florida doing chores (because there are no handymen in Florida), he noticed when he went into the laundry room that there was a broken bottle of beer on the floor. As I am not in the habit of hurling alcohol to the ground just for the pleasure of hearing the glass shatter, we suspected a rat.
A rat named Shirley. She had gotten into the laundry room last week when I was washing clothes, but I thought maybe she had come in through the door that I had not latched, although I realized 1) the door was still closed and 2) a cat who is not smart enough to figure out how to open a door certainly is not capable of opening and then closing one again.
I realized she must have come in via one of the very small spaces at the top of the wall. I moved a few more things on the furnace room side and thought the problem solved.
I guess not. SH was not happy that she had gotten into the laundry room and even less happy that she had knocked down some of his beer, said beer which then soaked up into his skates bag and some boxes.
So instead of getting to relax before his flight out again this morning, he spent the next two hours carefully crafting cardboard blocks and nailing them to the wall. I have told him that if he wants, I will call the crazy cat lady and tell her we don't want the cats any more. He can take pretty much anything but someone messing with his beer and wine collection and messing up his nicely-organized basement.
* To a cat, the squirt and the loud "No!" mean, "Don't do this thing right now." It does not mean, "Do not ever do this thing." They are not capable -- or do not choose -- to universalize a rule from the specific experience, which I understand is also how toddlers think.
** Down from the four we had when it was still snowing. Although it is supposed to snow today, even though I put grass seed on the lawn on Sunday, but does God care? I don't think so, so maybe I should put the fourth mat back.
*** The front door is not accessible right now because we have the upstairs bathroom door in the place of the dining room door while the dining room door is having the center wood panel replaced with glass. We cannot leave that door open (and get all the light from the south and west side of the house) because Laverne, who does not scratch anywhere else in the house, thinks the newly-upholstered wing chair in the living room is her personal scratching post. We can't use the dining room/bathroom door because only one of the hinges aligns, so we have a few chairs stacked behind it to keep it from swinging open. Not that we ever use the front door anyhow.