Thursday, 19 July 2007

Build a better mousetrap

000_0787 Cats are nothing, if not resourceful. Last week Balu found the escape route. This week, Balu got his nails cut and, La Pantera, Betty takes the prize for "Escapologist of the week." It was 80° F. / 27° C at around 2:30 in the morning here last night and cats and dog had, at various times during the day, been seen lying dead flat like trappers' pelts on the relatively cool, tiled floors. And, since we do not have air conditioning, whatever fresh air we can get is very welcome.

image The cats can no longer go out, especially not at night, so we need something in the line of screens that let air in, keep bugs out and that cats can't open.

However, as I'm renting, I can't fix anything with nails and screws. You can see the problem, can't you? Yes, cats can reverse engineer and open anything.

The screen I have made is, in reality, a recycled, folding, plastic clothes drier.

One of the legs broke and it wouldn't stand up, but I found that the moulded plastic frame that was the top of the drier, was exactly the height of the window, when standing upright, so I took the leg frame off completely. And, for me, it's perfect. It is less than the width of the window, which means that it can slide (there's a channel for it to sit in) to one side - necessary so that I can get to the window to also slide that open and shut. The makeshift screen is over a meter high, double thickness of at least 1 inch square, molded plastic and, in total is pretty heavy.

Balu discovered that the mesh is pliable: enough so that it would part for him to squeeze himself through the gaps, like toothpaste coming out of a tube.

So, I fortified it by weaving it taught with string, until I can get out to a hardware shop to buy some netting to cover it with.

But, once that route was closed, Betty just hooked the paw in and slid the whole damn thing out of her way. What's amazing is that I need both hands to do it, while pulling it back away from the window and I can't do it silently.

She can! The tough little b..... And she did, twice, once in the day and once at night. The first time, I caught her, half out of the window.

The second time, Betty, Balu and Kitty, all made their silent escape behind my back. So, there was I, at 1 a.m. trying to catch three cats, in the countryside, in the pitch dark. Two came, Balu would come so far, then ran off again as soon as I got anywhere near him. Finally rolls in at around 4 a.m. I deliberately didn't have children so as not to have to deal with teenagers rolling in at all hours!

Mico, bless the old fella, either didn't notice, or didn't care, because he didn't go outside on either occasion, which was one less to worry about.

So then I hung some wind chimes on the screen, so that I would hear when it was being interfered with. Placed a bar in the remaining width of track, which "should" be even "burglar proof". Maybe it would be, but that isn't cat burglar proof! She just pulled the screen clear and slid it in front of the bar.

We have the screen tied up in place, but Betty has already worked out how to untie it twice. The second time, I learned to tie knots that tighten if she pulls on them! Then she discovered how to release the string from it's mooring and no doubt, she'll do that again and crack whatever method I employ.

To avoid asphyxiating, what we need are air conditioning or a handyman to make proper screens, but both of those are out of the question.

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