Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Cat's Meow

Winchester between attacks on my writing chair

As I write this, my elbows are on fire. Not literally, but they are burning with an intensity generally reserved for the kind of sunburn Alaskans get when they visit Hawaii in the dead of winter, at the peak of pallor, and fall asleep on the beach for the better part of a day.

“And why,” you may ask, “do your elbows burn?” 

“It’s the cayenne pepper on the arms of my writing chair.”

“Good lord!” you exclaim in disbelief. “Why is there cayenne pepper on the arms of your writing chair?”

It’s the cat’s fault. It seems our resident feline fur bag, Winchester, isn’t happy with me. To display his displeasure he chews and bites chunks out of the molded foam armrests on my writing chair. Over the past several months, I have been in the unenviable position of perching at the very top of Winchester’s litter box list. 

There is no way to tell, with any certainty, what offense has triggered his vindictive wrath. Cats are just that way. Whereas a dog will remain loyal, affectionate and faithful throughout practically anything, cats take offense at the slightest perceived affront. Dogs are servile; cats maintain servants. However, if asked to guess what I did to get on the cat’s bad side, my guess would be that it’s weather related.

Obviously, I'm to blame for the winter weather

Winchester fancies himself as sort of a macho outdoor cat. He likes to strut his stuff around the yard, terrorizing small woodland creatures such as voles and shrews. Truth be told, his gait couldn’t really be called a strut. Since he dislocated his hip, his strut is more of a gimp. Any woodland creatures that lay deceased in his wake are more likely to have died of laughter than of feline ferocity. Nonetheless, when the weather is above freezing, rain or shine, Winchester expects to be provided regular opportunities to gimp about his territory.

It’s a different story during cold weather. He still wants out, but when the door opens and the cold air rolls in, he sinks to the floor, shakes his paws, and bobs in and out of the door trying to decide if he’s going to make the plunge. As the temperatures decrease, so does the likelihood of him actually slinking through the door.   

When the mercury headed substantially south of the zero mark the first time this winter things got worse. No time was wasted sinking down, shaking paws, or bobbing in and out. When offered his leave at the back door, he simply spun around and walked off to try the front door. The results were the same there, except he let fly several curt meows in my general direction. Obviously, it was my fault the weather wasn’t any better out front than out back.

It was at that point pieces of the armrests started appearing on the floor at my desk. The brutalization visited upon the armrests has increased in number and intensity as winter has progressed, particularly during cold snaps. 

Kitty revenge
The obvious solution was to keep my office door closed, which I did. After several weeks of being denied the opportunity to vent his anger, Winchester switched to guerilla tactics. He would wait until I left the room for a moment, or was distracted. He would then seize upon the opportunity to skulk into the room and hide. Upon my departure, he would amuse himself by savaging the armrests, and then meow loudly at the door to proclaim his victory. It was not long before the armrests began to resemble black, shredded natural sponges.

In an attempt to save what little was left of the armrests, I sprinkled cayenne pepper powder liberally on them. I figured the powder was a downgraded form of bear spray. It may have slowed the gnawing down a little, but observation indicates that is only because Winchester has decided to devote more time to savoring the bites. 

“Oh! You shouldn’t have! How did you guess I just love Cajun?” he seems to say as he strolls out of the office. “My compliments to the chef.”

Temporary solution until the cat is tanned

Since that tack was less than successful, I decided to remove the cayenne. Unfortunately, due to the shredded, porous condition of the armrests, I have not been able to completely eliminate the powder. Wiping, brushing and vacuuming have all been tried without complete success. Therefore, whenever I sit down to write, even without deadlines, I am truly in the hot seat.

With any luck, we are in for one more, sure enough for real, bone-chilling cold snap so Winchester will remove the armrests entirely. Barring that, I guess I’ll get the armrests recovered. I’m thinking something in a natural tabby cat hide.

Shameless plug: This post is an excerpt from Home is Where the Harm Is, the second volume in the Of Moose and Men series. Besides raising funds to purchase a new writing chair, 25% of all royalties from Home are donated to cancer research. The book is available for e-readers at this Amazon link.


  1. Your beasty may have "pica" which gives it a deep desire to consume furniture stores. Check with the vet. Also bitter apple spray will put it off its desire to turn your chair into a stool for Smurfs.

    As for the cat finding you highly annoying?

    Show it pictures of a trapper turning a wildcat into a hat. It'll let it know that the feeling is mutual.