It’s been almost three years since there’s been a teenager in this house. My youngest has been away at college for three years and will soon have his 22nd birthday.
When I became the proud new owner of two kittens several months ago, I emailed pics of my new babies to my uncle in Idaho (who is also a veterinarian). He wrote me back, commenting on my bravery to face going through raising kittens again and then reminded me that I would have the teenage phase to go through too.
I realized this week that we are very much into that teenage stage now! A while back, I watched a very funny video of animal antics. One of them that struck me as being so hilarious and made me literally laugh out loud, was of a cat aggressively attacking a roll of toilet paper until that roll was empty and all the paper was on the floor. Let’s just say that video is not near as funny now. Yes, Nugget has discovered the toilet paper rolls. And boy has he had a blast unrolling them! Twice I have walked into the bathroom to find a heap of fluffy white paper on the floor and claw marks in what’s left of the remaining roll. (Sorry, I didn’t think to take a picture). Once I caught him in action, I firmly told him “NO!” and removed him from the scene of the crime. He only gave me a look that said, “I don’t know who POSSIBLY could have done this. If only he wasn’t so darn cute.
A few nights ago, I heard a crash in the kitchen. I went running in there to find–yes, Nugget again– sitting on the floor beside a pile of items that minutes earlier had been up on the kitchen counter. Luckily these were not breakable items. Then yesterday while in the kitchen, I heard another crash that came from the computer room. Again, I went running to find–yes, wide-eyed Nugget– on the computer desk (one of the favorite sleeping places of both kittens) sitting up looking at me as if to say, “DID YOU HEAR THAT?” I looked around the room and never found anything amiss. It wasn’t until a few hours later when my husband reached up for the phone on the top shelf above the desk and there was no phone there. The phone and the recharger cradle were both behind the desk. Believe me, it took some stretching and getting into odd contortionist positions to get that phone back in its proper place. When I went to use said phone a little while later, I realized it was dead. So back under the computer desk I went fishing for wires and found one end of an adapter wire that had been disconnected from the phone. We finally once again have a working phone.
We are using Scat Mats to train the kittens not to jump up on the kitchen counters, the stove, bathroom counters, and the kitchen table. Nugget (why is it ALWAYS Nugget?) is the explorer and the jumper. After observing Nugget, I now have a much better understanding of the saying, “Curiosity Killed the Cat.” For those of you who aren’t familiar with what a Scat Mat is, it is a clear flexible vinyl training mat that comes in different sizes. It works with a 9 volt battery. You place these mats in the prohibited areas: on furniture, counter tops, tables, etc. When touched by the animal (or human) they emit harmless low-power electronic pulses similar to static electricity. They have 3 different settings: low for kittens, medium for adult cats and puppies, and high for adult dogs and long-haired cats. Usually after only two encounters with the scat mat, the cat will stay away from it. I have been terrified of one of the kittens jumping on the hot ceramic stove while I’m cooking (and we all know how hot those stoves can get) and so the scat mats have worked beautifully. Believe me, while practicing veterinary medicine, I saw more than one cat come in who had jumped on a red-hot stove burner. It was not a pleasant site witnessing their pain, the owner’s panic, and watching a cat sloughing burnt paw pads. And trust me when I say cats aren’t keen on having Silvadene burn cream applied and having their paws bandaged.
So yes, I’m all for the Scat mats. Do I think they’re cruel? No I don’t. Not one bit. And believe me, I have touched them myself accidentally many times, and while it’s uncomfortable and makes you jump, it is not painful. It feels just like a static electricity “pop” and something you definitely want to avoid. Nugget quit jumping on the bathroom counter and kitchen counters after getting popped by the scat mats a couple of times, so I felt it was time to remove the mats. I rolled them up and put them back in the handy-dandy little boxes they came in. But Nugget is smart you see and he saw me do this and now he knows the “bad mats” are gone and so today he jumped up on the bathroom counter twice and he tried last night to jump up on the kitchen counter when he smelled my irresistible dinner. So the Scat mats are coming right back out. Today. (Insert sigh).
Teenagers. I wish I had some of their energy.