The following is an old story which has never before been recorded, back from the days when I used to be involved in cat adoption.
I don’t work with cats any more. Stories like this are the reason for that.
Several years ago, I was a foster home for a cat rescue group. I fell into it by accident (that’s another tale for another time), but at one point I had six young kittens living with me.
After a couple of weeks, the kittens got big enough that they started roaming the house instead of staying nicely in their nest box. In general, this wasn’t a problem – we kept the door to the office and bedroom closed, so they never bothered our things or our birds. However, it became a problem once the kittens had enough energy to get up and play during the night, and decided that the Humans were great fun, and that it was Not Acceptable that we spend 8 hours at a stretch lying down quietly in the dark. Three AM is the best part of the day, you guys are missing it!
The kittens started by having early morning wrasslin’ matches right outside the bedroom door. When they realized that this caused us to get up and open the door and make loud noises at them, they started playing with the door, banging it and scratching at it and meowing loudly because the opening at the bottom was only big enough for a paw or nose and not a whole kitten. We blockaded the hallway with an up-ended kitchen table – and six 4-month old kittens quickly learned that they could leap about twelve times their own height to reach the door despite us. For about three days we were both getting up for work by 4am, because that’s when the kittens absolutely refused to let us sleep any longer.
The fourth day, by accident, I hit on the perfect solution to midnight kitten madness.
I had tried to block off the door itself by sticking the vacuum in front of it – outside the bedroom – under the assumption that the kittens, who disliked the vacuum, wouldn’t climb all over their nemesis to reach the door. Didn’t work. Bracing against the door, they could more easily attack the cords and hose, which made great, loud fun! If I got up and turned on the vacuum for a moment, they’d run off, but would be back as soon as I closed the door again.
Then I realized that there was a wall outlet within easy reach of the bed, and the vacuum cord could reach under the door and all the way across the room. So I went to sleep with the vacuum turned on, but unplugged, and the cord draped over the nightstand.
That morning, when the kittens started their matins, I half-awoke, grabbed the cord, and plugged it into the wall socket for just a second:
Under the vacuum noise, I heard a hailstorm of twenty-four little kitten paws tearing away down the hallway. Then, silence. After a moment, a tentative miao? was distantly heard from the vicinity of the kitchen.
Kittens can be persistent, but they can also be very fast learners. They soon understood that their presence near my bedroom door would awaken a Big Growly Monster instead of a person who could operate a can opener, and we were able to sleep through the night.
It wasn’t the nicest thing I had ever done, but it meant I could go back to sleep. I made peace with my demons,and I’d certainly recommend this strategy to anyone with a kitten infestation.