Sufferin’ Succotash

Into this fur-flying, polypharmaceutical old-folks home comes Sylvester the Cat. That’s not his real name, but he bears a striking resemblance to that luckleth lithping Looney Tune star whose persistent pursuit of Tweety Bird routinely landed him at the bottom of a cliff or under an anvil. This particular tuxedo cat belongs to the neighbour through the woods. We can only assume they’re starving him over there, because he barges through the pet flap several times a day to help himself to a free meal courtesy of Squeaky’s leftovers.

Busted! Sylvester is caught in the act of hoovering up Squeaky's food.

I say “barge” because he doesn’t bother to employ the merest of covert stealth to conceal his arrival or intent by lying low and creeping furtively toward the kitchen like the common cat chow burglar he is. Oh no. This cheeky scrounge pushes through the pet door, letting the flap bang loudly behind him. In case we didn’t hear it, he’ll announce his presence with a yowl that sounds like he’s being throttled which, if I wasn’t a lover of all things four-legged, I’d seriously consider doing. Without a glance at the humans in the room, he then sashays over to the cat dish and hoovers up all of Squeaky’s kibble. And what are Scratchy and Squeaky doing during this audacious act of petty theft? Snoring.

We first met Sylvester on the morning Ben and Bonnie were readying to leave on their trip. When the strange cat strode into the living room like he owned the joint, Bonnie leapt up and chased him out the door, flinging a litany of mild expletives after him. I, on the other hand, felt sorry for him, so on his first few uninvited drop-ins I opened the door and gently coaxed him back outside with a handful of cat chow. After he gobbled that down and whipped around the side of the house and in through the pet flap before I could step back in, I admired his determination.

Banished — Sylvester peers through the window like an orphan.

But, since Bonnie and Ben wanted him banned, I again lured him outside. After one too many of these cat-in-house games, I blocked the pet door with old towels. This worked perfectly. Until he discovered he could punch his way through the cloth wall and into the inner sanctum. I needed something more impenetrable. I found a large, heavy bin on the back porch and pushed that up against the flap. Heh-heh-heh. Just try and move that, sucka. Out-witted, Sylvester took to staring in the window like an orphan. I refused to be taken in by taking him in. He had a perfectly good home next door; there was no need for a second one. Besides, he was far from starving. In fact, he looked quite healthy and obviously well cared for. So the barrier would remain. Until Squeaky and/or Scratchy needed to take to the great outdoors to relieve themselves. Then we had a problem.

Thus ensued an almost continuous motion of me chasing Sylvester, blocking the door, unblocking the door, forgetting to re-block the door, which ensured he would slip in at the first opportunity (sometimes I could swear he lurked outside in the toolies with binoculars, watching for the exact moment when I unblocked the door). At night I was forced to leave the door unobstructed to allow Scratchy and Squeaky access to the sprawling yard that serves as their toilet. This, of course, left a clear path for Sylvester; I might as well have left a light on for him. So, before bed, I took to lifting the cat food up on a counter. When I came into the kitchen one morning and found Sylvester on the counter dining from on high I began stowing the food in a drawer.

Squeaky joins Sylvester in a chorus of: "Feed me!"

When I caught him licking the butter, that was the last straw. I shrieked at him and chased him out of the kitchen, waving my arms about like a lunatic. In a dazzling display of audacity, instead of running for the door, the little bugger double backed and fled up the stairs. Sympathy be damned; I got the broom. Hot on his heels in a feverish game of whack-a-mole, I managed to shoo him out the door. But evidently he has nothing better to do with his day than stalk the pet door and within minutes of it being clear, he’s in. So here I sit, defeated, feeling like the caged Tweety Bird, convinced every few minutes that I tought I taw a puddy-tat…


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