Y'all remember the little problem we were having with Shirley, the dumb cat, who had figured out how to use the ducting in the basement as her personal Six Flags Over Texas or Georgia or Under Milwaukee and was running through them very noisily* about 400 times a night and stopping at the grate in our bedroom wall to meow and announce her presence, at which point Laverne, who was sitting on the bed, would meow back in her smug little way of, "Yeah, I'm in the bedroom with those people because I behave and you don't which is why you're in the basement and I'm not" and Shirley was all, "Yeah, well I'm in the bedroom now too, Beeyotch, so what do you have to say about THAT?" and then she would go back down into the duct, CLOMP, Clomp, clomp, and go all the way to the end to the living room, clomp, clomp, clomp, then come back, clomp, clomp, CLOMP, "Meow, I'm here!," which would wake me up again, even though I was wearing earplugs? Remember that?
Shirley thinking she is too cute for words. There are words, all right. The words have to do with a cat waking you just as you are about to fall asleep, not once but twice, and then again at 5:00 a.m.
The Engineer and I decided we were not going to take it any more. I looked for the hole in the ducting, but couldn't find it. How to find it? I came up with a lot of ideas: tying a long ribbon to Shirley's foot, hoping it would get cut off and stuck to the hole, finding a paper that had nails embedded in it and attaching it to the furnace so the nails were sticking straight up and Shirley wouldn't be able to walk on it, blowing smoke into the ducting and seeing where it emerged. But SH had an easier idea: Detach the grate in the bedroom, put Shirley in it, and watch where she emerged.
Shirley watches with suspicion as SH removes the grate. She is sitting on her favorite fish blanket, the one I got in Mexico when Juanderlust and I went to Cancun. She always wants to be on the highest, most comfortable point, even if it only means a difference of an inch.
The inside of the duct was filthy, so SH took the opportunity to vacuum. Shirley is always full of dust and I don't want to know what after her little sojourns through the ducts, so we wanted to minimize the damage.
As SH put Shirley in the grate, I ran to get the food. She might be outsmarting us at every turn, but we do control her food supply. I went into the basement and started shaking the food box.
She immediately emerged on top of the furnace, which is where I had seen her before. I had checked there and had seen no holes. SH got up there and saw a hole in the top of the duct behind the furnace that I could not see because I am not tall enough. We are not happy to think that we have gone an entire $300/month heating bill even though we have half the house closed off and it's still cold as heck in here winter with a hole in the duct. Why is it even there?
The Engineer, with his fabulous design and build skills (I so married the right man) spent the next two hours repairing this hole and another one he found.** Shirley will be getting into those ducts no more.
* I don't know who started this myth about cats creeping around silently because our cats sound like a herd of elephants, a herd of elephants on ALUMINUM DUCTING.
** Great way to spend a Friday night after having been out of town for work for three days, huh?