Friday, May 1, 2015

Bears Behaving Badly (or at least regrettably)

Bear is known for his shenanigans. Most turn out the way he planned, but occasionally, he finds himself in a situation he needs help to get out of. When it comes to a) climbing or jumping, b) sticking his paw or nose somewhere, or c) doing something to get attention, he is relatively fearless - some times at his own peril. In addition to being fearless, he also puts his whole heart into whatever he does - meaning his disasters are never just halfway  - oh no, it's all or nothing. Honestly, I wasn't ready for a cat like him as Kitty was rather tame in comparison. She had a box she loved, she had a habit of shredding napkins when we were gone on vacation, she hissed as much as Bear purrs and, at nine years old, she suddenly became an expert mouser (which were always dumped in my bedroom). But with Kitty, I didn't have to worry about destruction (other than the napkins), her jumping on the counter/table, or things disappearing. If I included every escapade of Bear's, this would be a LONG post. So I'm just going to focus on the ones that stick out in my mind the most and save the rest for a rainy day (and I will dedicate an entire post - or six - to his attention seeking fiascoes - the ones here are just those that involve things he wants or wants to play with). 

Bear is a little thief. 

I hate not having pens when I need them, so I'm almost obsessive about making sure I have pens in certain places around the house. Shortly after we brought him inside, pens began to disappear. My mother suffered (and died) from early onset dementia so I always have this cloud hanging over my head - thinking that when I forget something, I'm starting to go down that path. With all my carefully laid pens disappearing, I was certain I was finally losing it. Until one day, when Bear got his favorite mousie stuck under the couch (at first, it was the only one he'd play with - if it got too far under the furniture he'd be annoying and whine until someone rescued the mousie and he could play again. Even my {then} husband gave in because Bear was so obnoxious about it). Lo and behold! I picked up the corner of the couch - and there were 17 pens under there! S-E-V-E-N-T-E-E-N. I felt like a horrible kitty mommy because you start to wonder where you were - because I never saw him even TOUCH a pen, much less make off with it. And there were 17 under there. Busy little booger. 

Since then, he's become adept at stealing anything that even remotely looks like a string (bra straps, drawstrings on pants, chargers, camera straps). You truly do feel crazy when you set a pair of pants with a drawstring out on the bed, turn around to get a shirt, and turn back around and the pants are missing. Luckily, these are easy things to find since he drags them only so far within a short amount of time. For those who stay at my house, they also know to not leave toothbrushes, pens, chargers or anything mousie-sized out. Because he WILL take off with them - or knock them into the trashcan if they are on the bathroom counter. And I now keep my pens where his paws can't reach :)

Of course, Bear doesn't limit himself to dragging or batting around the above. Shortly after moving back to my hometown (after the divorce), I caught him dragging a giant teddy bear from the back bedroom to the front of the house. I made the mistake of thinking he wouldn't be interested in stuffed animals, so I left it on the bed. How giant was the teddy bear? About 10 times the size of Bear. And he dragged it across the house like it was no big deal. Why? I have no idea - but he's one determined cat.

Also, until I got smart and closed my laptop when I wasn't using it, he popped off the keys (the space bar so many times, it was permanently broken) - and had a habit of batting them around and losing them under the furniture. You wouldn't think you'd need an "X," until you don't have one anymore. Thank you Bear - for showing me how much I appreciate having an "X" key!

Bear LOVES people food and has no qualms getting in your business to get it.

Right after we brought him inside, I cooked a value pack of chicken breasts to use in future lunches and dinners. But before I could put them in the refrigerator or freezer, I had to leave them out to cool. Because Kitty had never shown interest, I wasn't used to having to "protect" food left out. I was in our office around the corner from the kitchen and heard a loud "THUNK." I came out and everything looked fine. But 30 seconds later, Bear came running into the office with one of the chicken breasts in his mouth. He seemed so proud of himself - and I imagine it required some effort to carry the breast around because he was still a small  (4-5 lb) kitten; because of this, I struggled with taking it away from him - because he seemed to earn it - but I also didn't want to reward the behavior and have him do it on a regular basis. Because he paused after he dropped it - probably thinking, "What am I supposed to do with this now?" - it was easy to snatch away. But sometimes, I wish I'd just let him have it. In retrospect, I think the "THUNK" was him dropping the chicken breast off the counter (from his mouth). Then he jumped down and made off with it. Smart boy.

Another incident happened as I was finishing my lunch of a peanut butter sandwich. I'd left the jar open and some how (don't ask me how - even though I was right there watching) - in trying to get his nose in there, he got his back paw stuck in the peanut butter (in the jar). This is one of the incidents where he required assistance because his back paw sank down and was truly STUCK in the peanut butter. He couldn't shake it off - and he couldn't really walk well either (he lifted and chunked down the jar or had to drag it).

The most surprising steal involved some "Bodacious Onion Dip." The dip had horseradish and peppers and was really spicy. I took one bite and knew it wasn't my cup of tea. So I got up to get something else to dip my carrots in (and take gulps of water), and I came back to find the 3 tablespoons of dip that were on my plate gone and Bear sleeping soundly on my laptop (and snoring). I looked everywhere thinking he somehow batted the clump of dip off the plate - but it was just gone. Every. Single. Bit. He'd licked the plate clean. Apparently, the spiciness did not bother him: I suppose that makes him bodacious.

Curiosity almost "got" Bear.

As anyone with a cat knows, any new packages that come into the house need to be thoroughly examined by the resident cat. My all-time favorite Bear story involves him sniffing around the bags of groceries that were sitting on my kitchen floor. He had his head in the bag holding a two gallon jug of milk. The noise from me emptying another bag startled him and he pulled his entire body back quickly. Unfortunately, one of the handles from the bag was caught around his body - panicking him even more. Before I knew what was happening, the jug of milk went one direction, and the cat (and the now broken bag) went the other - sending two movies that were also in the bag flying across the room. As you can see from the pictures, the handle of the bag was literally caught around his body. I tried to approach him a few times to extricate him from the bag, but each time, my laughter frightened him more so he ran somewhere else. At last, Momma was able to get close enough to remove the bag. And Bear has never gotten too close to a plastic bag again.




Bear is an adventurous jumper.

Not only can I not keep him off the table and counters, but he finds the most daredevil jumps to make beyond those places. About six months after we brought him inside, I couldn't find him anywhere . . . until I heard a noise above my head . . . and yes, he somehow managed to get ON TOP of the kitchen cabinets (you can see in the picture, to the left, the top of the refrigerator for reference). I took awhile to figure out how he got up there - and the only thing that made sense given the cluttered top of the refrigerator and the cluttered top of the cabinets - is that he made it directly from the counter to the top of the cabinet. No easy feat.





Below is another picture of a jump (in our new house) that amazed me. I thought I was going to have to climb up there and rescue him myself after I walked into the room, and there he was on top of the shelf. From the picture, you can also see how I shoved all the stuffed animals on the shelves I didn't think he could reach (And who knows . . . maybe he only got up there because he thought he could steal one . . . for a long time, he kept jumping up there just to knock off the small bear sitting on where the paper comes out of the printer. I swear - I'd put it back and he'd jump up there immediately to knock it off again. Stubborn little pain!)





Of course, some times his jumps don't work out for him. I have a cube organization system in my walk in closet - filled and topped with as many clothes as I can fit in or on it. More than once, he's managed to get to the top of the pile of clothes on top of the cube (on his way to the top of the closet shelves - see the picture below - and I apologize in advance - my closet is a MESS) - usually while I'm in bed - across the room (and looking into the closet). At least a few times, the piles have started to shift and I've managed to get there in time to catch the falling piles of clothes (and of course, what I'm really trying to catch - the adventurous little cat). Occasionally, I'll go in the closet and notice the clothes have fallen off - I can only guess what happened, but I have a pretty good idea :)







All these episodes give you some idea of why I love Bear so much. He truly does put his whole heart into whatever adventures he undertakes . . . and I admire his "pluck" and determination. I never expected a cat to be as determined and stubborn as I am . . . but Bear has taught me well. And I love him even more for both his attitude and his teaching style.

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