Thursday, January 7, 2010

Dear Dr. Frankenstein

The moment I saw it, I knew I'd found the perfect gift. MicroMouse, the radio-controlled rodent for the cat who has everything. Not that mine is in quite that enviable a position, largely due to the fact that designers seem to think cats like "cute," and this little guy is bored with it. Toys loaded with catnip are also out because the last thing I need is to be awakened at three in the morning by a drunken feline yowling off-key renditions of My Wild Irish Rose.

Since he can't seem to get enough of the four-legged variety lately, I figured this would be a close second, kind of like a consolation prize at the county fair. Apparently, he thinks so too because not only is he quite happy with it while I'm running the controls, he's started looking for it on his own. Like your typical human, I took it for granted that I could leave it in the cupboard when we weren't playing. I forgot I was dealing with a cat who is smarter than your average bear.

You think I'm kidding, but I'm not. This is the one who practiced picking up pieces of food with his paw (right, not left) until not only could he do it easily, but now scoops up water with it, as well. Anyway, I heard some scuffling last night in the kitchen, followed by the sound of the cupboard door banging. Thinking this was a variant of his "come and feed me" signal and not a STAT page, I didn't rush. A few minutes later, however, instead of staring at his dish, I found him on the floor, pawing at MicroMouse.

The darned cat's observant. You and I knew that already because we've talked about how he tries to work the doorknob. But this is something else. He must have seen me place the mouse in the cupboard earlier in the day, and then searched until he found it. I think it's pretty safe to say he's at Piaget's sensorimotor stage. At this point in human development, rather than an object being "out of sight, out of mind," a child is able to form mental representations of the object, and when it's not immediately present, proceed to look for it.

When he began banging the cupboard door again at midnight, I decided the mouse needed a new home. So, I took both cat and mouse into the bedroom, and made a big show of placing his toy in the dresser drawer. Like that was going to make a difference. As soon as I put him down, he was back at the cupboard as if the witness of his own senses wasn't enough to convince him. Either that, or he thought where there had been one, he might find another. Fortunately, he left off about ten minutes after the lights were out. And of course, he was back at it this morning.

It's obviously time to call in an expert. "Dear Dr. Frankenstein, what should I do? I think I've created a monster."

(Photo by the author -- sorry for the blurring, motion is hard to capture)
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