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The Out

by Vicky Chapman, NSW, Australia


Shmogg discovered The Out the last weekend. He is such a Mama's boy. His food is in the laundry, so when I want to go out to put the washing out through the "outside" laundry door, I have to shut the internal laundry door so he doesn't get out.

I'd had a shower about half an hour previous, and had opened the sliding bathroom window a smidgen to let the steam out. Now that I'm living on the "ground floor" and haven't yet got screens on the window, I've been very conscious of Shmoggleberry's Houdini skills, and have made damn sure that the windows have never been opened to cat width. I don't like him going outside when I know I have cat-hating neighbours.

Shmogglberry like hanging around in the bathroom anyway. Much like the toilet, he seems to have the need to supervise me when I doing anything that involves water. Perhaps he is trying to psychically warn me about all those bad wadder monsters that are either near me or on me. Whatever it is, he stares at me intently whenever I'm carrying out my toiletries, and will only leave me in peace when I'm just about finished abluting.

When I've left the window open previously, he has been quite content just sitting on the bathroom vanity and staring out of the crack, sniffing the unfamiliar scents. Now I figure that although Shmoggleberry can open un-latched doors, he won't be strong enough, or have the dexterity to slide the window open. He has tried before, and has never actually moved the window, so I thought things were safe.

One should never assume anything about a cat that wants something badly. While innocently hanging up the laundry, I could see the familiar shape behind the "privacy glass" of the bathroom window. I didn't stop working, but called out to my dear one "Hello Puss! Watcha doing?". He let out a plaintive "meow" and his front paw protruded out from the crack in the window in a vain attempt to open in some more. I was sure that things were fine. If he really wanted out, I thought he'd sit at the internal door of the laundry, waiting to do his mad dash of freedom through the laundry. Obviously I have no concept of cunning cat thoughts.

The washing line is under an old melaleuca tree (bottlebrush family) which is the home to many an arachnid. The seem to be confused between the tree and the new addition of the washing line, and I have to be very careful not to set my arachnophobia into paranoid overload when I'm pegging things. Mostly they are just tiny spiders, probably too young to see distinguish wood and leaves from metal and plastic. Hill's Hoists, are, after all, the same basic concept as a tree, with a "trunk" and then a "crown". But with the spiders around, I'm very careful to remove from the line, and the thought that one could drop from the tree at any point onto me is always at the back of my mind.

Peg, peg, bend, straighten, arrange apparel, peg, peg. I wasn't paying attention to Shmoggleberry because he was safe inside.

A soft, hairy thing brushed the back of my calf. The dreaded Tarantula had dropped from the tree and was crawling up my leg. I jumped a mile. The spider then let out the strangest sound, as one of my feet caught its back leg. "MEEE-Roowwww!!!!". Oh, a barking, man eating, tarantula. Just smegging wonderful.

I picked up the 'spider' and placed him back inside to the howls of protest. I shut the now opened-to-cat-width bathroom window, and made damn sure that the internal laundry was latched shut. He didn't talk to me for the rest of the day, and now when I have a shower, he alternates between looking pleadingly at me and staring forlornly at the shut bathroom window.

Now, I know that he really just wanted to be with his Mummy that time, as I've kept most of the widows open a crack during the day ever since we moved here, just to get some airflow, and he didn't show any interest whatsoever. If he could open the bathroom window, he'd have no problem at all opening the spare room window which is much smaller and therefore lighter for a cat to push. But he didn't try to do anything until he saw me outside, and he came straight up to me once he jumped out. But now he cries and cries for "the out" and keeps giving me that "Bad Mummy" look when I say no. So how am I going to keep the airflow through the house, while making sure Shmoggleberry is not squeezing his way through such a small gap? Yet another reason to get flyscreens before summer starts.


Editor's note:

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