Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Feline Frightener

We have a cat who is the most peaceful, serene animal I have ever had. He's actually my daughter's pet and he'll come running the minute she calls. He always sleeps in her bed and nuzzles her on demand.

Actually, he likes everyone to a degree. What's funny is that he isn't terribly loving with anyone if my daughter is in the room - my theory is that he's afraid of making her jealous.

Like all cats, though, he does some irritating things. In his case, it's scratching at the fringes of carpets. We yell "No" and he stops doing it but shortly after forgets it's a bad thing and does it again.

If this was any other animal I'd swat his with a rolled up newspaper while yelling, "No!" and this would get his attention. But he's so sweet I'd hate to do anything that could affect his disposition.

So I have an idea....

Cats are startled by sudden loud noises. They don't like them one bit. Most cats will immediately drop what they're doing and haul ass at a sudden loud noise. What is needed is a good loud noise that is untraceable.

If I took an aluminum beer can and put a couple of dozen BBs into it, it would be loud when shaken or thrown. If I seal the can and then wrap it in light foam it's still loud but now soft.

If I have this can, (I dub thee "Feline Frightener") I can throw it close to the cat when he's misbehaving and he'll freak and stop what he's doing. There are advantages to this approach.

  • If I accidently hit the cat he's unlikely to be hurt because it'll be very light.
  • He won't know where the Frightener came from so he can't trace it back to me. As far as he knows, the Cat God is smiting him for his transgressions.
  • Since the BBs randomly rattle in the can, the noise will be slightly different each time so it'll seem like an animate threat.
  • If I throw it from a different spot each time he'll be even more afraid of it.
  • He will begin to associate the Frightener with any bad behavior and I can use it at any time for any badness.

I base my bulletpoints on the fact that cats are stupid. No, really. They look at you with eyes slitted because they don't have the mental energy to keep them wide open unless directly focused on a straightforward task such as catching squirrels. Which they rarely do because even squirrels are smarter than them. Some cats are good at rats and birds but rats and birds are even stupider than cats.

Some cats are both stupid and deranged. I have known cats that attack strangers without warning; cats that howled for no reason, obsessive-compulsive cats (no shit - one of mine was), and cats that wiped out all of a homes drapes and blinds because the owner was gone overnight.

But I digress.

The Frightener would not work for dogs because when you want to stop a dog from doing wrong things, you can train them either with reward or punishment. This is for three reasons: You want them to respect and obey you so a loud can from the Dog Gods is impersonal - they need to see that You Are Personally Unhappy. A dog would likely be curious about the can and not run so far, killing off the startle value after the first few uses. Finally, dogs are clearly not as stupid as cats and would likely try to retrieve the Evil Can to bring to you as a fetch toy.

If I ever get up the gumption to actually make the Frightener, I'll let you all know if it works. I think it will.