Friday, October 18, 2013

Of blind cats and baby gates

Blind cat Lucy behind a baby gate
It seems that I spend most of my life trying to keep my resident blind cat from harming herself, given the number of times I've written about the topic on this blog (see examples here and here). Most of the time, my solutions work quite nicely, and I can pat myself on the back for a job well done. There are times, however, when my safety ideals confuse Lucy. The latest problem concerns a baby gate.

My house has a fully finished basement, which contains the favored litter box for kitties that need a little more privacy than they might experience upstairs. It's in a wee little bathroom, in an out-of-the-way part of the basement, and the box is big and accommodating. For cats who have serious business to do, this is the place in which to do it.

Unfortunately, getting to this box means going down some complicated stairs. There are two small steps down, a landing and then a twisting set of carpeted stairs. Lucy can navigate these steps just fine when she's moving slowly, but if a wee Boston terrier chooses to chase her, she seems to lose track of the number of stairs, and she tumbles head over heels until she reaches the bottom.

In addition, her little deposits tend to be eaten by curious (and disgusting) pugs, and when she comes to investigate with purrs and head butts, she's sometimes bullied. It takes me a few moments to break up the ruckus, and by the time I get there, she's been subjected to a lot of playful mouthing that might make her a little uncomfortable.

Baby gates are an obvious solution to this problem, as they allow acrobatic cats the opportunity to jump over, while dogs are left watching the action through the bars. With a baby gate in place, Lucy can use her box in peace, and she can make her way down the stairs at a slow and steady pace without being chased. Her dog interactions would also involve supervision.

My house doesn't provide a perfect baby gate setup, however, as the landing at one end is small, and the doorway at the other end is too wide to accommodate a gate. I've been forced to put it at the top of the stairwell, which means the cats must jump it and land two steps down. Lucy can handle this part just fine, but she can't figure out how to jump over the gate when she's standing on the landing.

While I know quite well that she can jump over the gate, as the distance is smaller than the distance from the floor to the top of my bed (and she sleeps up there all day). But something about the jump confuses her.

When I first put up the gate, a few months ago, I figured she'd get used to the idea and would figure it out.

No dice.

Now, she just sits on the other side of the gate, patiently meowing until I come and open up the door to let her through. I'm thankful the gate has a hinge, so this is relatively easy to do, but I wonder how long she'll keep it up. I suppose it's the price I'll pay in order to keep her safe.

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