July, National Cat Month, Remembers “Weggie And The Screen Door”

Weggie has just been inducted into that exclusive club of brainiacs known as Mensa. Normally, this elitist organization of intelligentsia only accepts people with the highest IQs in the world.
My new cat Weggie qualified because he was able to prove that he is approximately three to four times smarter than his new owner. That would be me, the household CEO who oversees the three-hundred-dollar screen-door budget.
You see, when Weggie wants to go out, he views the screen door between him and the great outdoors as about a ten-minute tunnelling job. I know this because, although I have not actually seen him do it, I have replaced four screens that had cat-size holes in the bottom right-hand corner. It’s either Weggie or I have ants that escaped from Stephen King’s last novel.
Four perfectly good screen doors chewed and clawed, clean through at the rate of one every two weeks. In my house, a bag of potato chips lasts longer than a screen door. The only good news is that Weggie can’t wield a hammer; otherwise, there wouldn’t be a window left in this house.
Now you may think I’m exaggerating, but if you drive through the town of Port Colborne, you’ll notice that Reichman Lumber on Main Street is offering a “Weggie Special.” Basically, the deal is if your cat goes through a screen door four times, the fifth repair job is free. I am not making this up.
The other day, I was coming up from the lake when I heard him biting and digging through mesh again, trying to get out. Quickly, I grabbed the bucket of water that I use to rinse beach sand off my feet and threw it at the screen. By the time I got into the kitchen, there he was, dry as a bone and sitting calmly at the edge of the little lake on the floor, drinking from it.
Yet another time, in the middle of the night, I heard the snapping of wire mesh and crept into the kitchen with a rolled up newspaper in my hand. Right there, under the cover of darkness, I smacked the cowering little culprit two or maybe three times. Yes, standing naked while still mostly asleep, I gave my rubber boots the thrashing of their lives. Safe to say they’ll never try to escape in the night ever again. Meanwhile, back in the bedroom, Weggie was circling a spot at the foot of the bed, just settling in for a good sleep. Did I mention that he’s smart and really, really fast?
I was returning from a neighbour’s cottage one evening when I heard the unmistakable sound of teeth and claws on wire, on…let me see, I believe it was screen door number three because while working on number four, Frank said: “You know, most guys wouldn’t replace this screen. Most guys would replace the cat.”
So when I heard the gnashing of metal mesh, I crept to within ten yards of the kitchen door and grabbed one of the rubber boots I’d previously beaten half to death. Holding it just over my right shoulder in the quick-toss position, I crouched behind a shrub and waited for the little monster to snap one more strand of wire. And I waited, patiently, because this was the shot that was going to be heard around the neighbourhood. I was going to throw the boot with all my might at the water pail, and the splashing, I was certain, would be enough to deter any further tunnelling through screen doors.
And I waited, in this frozen live-action pose, because I knew when that boot hit the bucket in front of his face, Weggie would never touch another sliding door as long as I let him live. And I waited, in this coiled and ready-to-lunge position, until my lower back went numb and my throwing arm fell asleep.
And when I moved my neck to the left, to ease the pain in my shoulders, I saw him sitting in the living room window staring at me. I’m sure he’d been there for the entire twenty minutes I had been standing like a stature of a man holding a rubber boot. It’s a good thing I was so sore, otherwise I might have hurt myself laughing.
As we stared at each other with contempt, I noticed him looking past me towards the road, hoping to catch a glimpse of that turnip truck I fell off on the way into town.
Then he looked back at me, and I swear he shook his head. It was a “way too much TV, Bill” shake of that arrogant but very handsome head. Then he licked himself and went to bed. I went and soaked in a hot tub for an hour to regain the feeling in my back and upper body.
Did I mention he’s a really smart little fella? But I’ll catch him vandalizing that screen door. You can count on that. Of course, when I do, about the only thing I’ll be able to do is push my walker in his general direction to scare him a little bit – but I’ll catch him, of that much I am sure.
Now, please, there’s a cute little critter in a cage just down the road waiting for you to show up!
This is an excerpt from: “The Cat Rules (Everything, Including the Dog!)”, published in 2006.

William Thomas is a humour columnist. For comments, ideas and copies of The Legend of Zippy Chippy, go to www.williamthomas.ca

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