Friday, September 21, 2007

How to catch a cat

If you have a cat, you know how difficult it is to catch. A cat's first step is much faster than yours, and it's not possible to reach down in time to grab the cat if it wants to take off, so if you need to catch it, you must get within arm's length before even thinking about catching it, and even then it's 50/50.

Today was another chemo appointment - well, blood work + chemo, because they didn't draw blood in between like they're supposed to, and I forgot until it was too late - so I did my normal late-morning routine. There have been enough of these now that the cats know something's up when I'm home early (at one point, Calle was going under the bed every morning just to be safe), so even though they greet me at the door, they're ready to run at a moment's notice.

This time, it was a little different. Both cats were sleeping in the bedroom, so they were standing near the bed when I saw them: Calle at the foot, Josie next to it. I did a quick calculation and estimated the chances of me catching Calle with a lunge at something like 0%.

I began to walk slowly toward her, no arms outstretched or anything, trying not to think of anything, least of all the clinic and the cat carrier. I got within about 6 feet before Calle did the same thing: realizing that my chances were now greater than 0%, she turned and began to go under the bed.

In the past, when she'd meet me at the door, the first thing I'd do would be to close the bedroom door. My bed is pretty low to the floor, so I can't get under it. Other than that, there's really no place in the house where I can't get a cat if I need to. (I couldn't do that today because they never left the bedroom.) The end result is that I have to move both the mattress and box spring, which basically adds 10 minutes, 15 if I'm not careful with the covers.

However, the bed is also low enough that she can't just walk underneath it: she has to squeeze down a little bit, and that's what saved me. As I saw her duck down and start to disappear under the blankets hanging off the end of the bed, I apparently leapt forward (my knee informed me I'd done this later) and lunged under the bed.

Unlike Madden AI, instead of aiming for where the cat had been, I aimed for where the cat would be. Grabbing a cat by the hind legs will get you nothing if you're lucky, and a skin graft if you're not. Instead, as my arm disappeared under the bed, my hand found a cat chest. I scooped her back out from the bed, picked her up, and eventually coaxed her into the carrier. (By "coaxed" I mean "kept her in front of me and moved the carrier forward until she was already halfway in it.")

Owner 1, Cat 0. (Total score at this point: Owner 24, Cat 37,844.)

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