If we had air conditioning, I probably wouldn’t have had to drag my year-old cat in from off the roof Monday morning while balancing the detached window screen in the other hand and bowl of kibble against my hip.
We do not have air conditioning.
We have a box fan that gets wedged into the open window on hot nights, like Sunday night. It keeps the bedroom cool enough to sleep, which is our biggest priority.
Our cats – exactly one year old, physically if not behaviorally adult cats – have different priorities. They’re obsessed with finding a way under the drapes, onto the top of the fan, between the blinds and the screen so they can…sit there? Feel tall? Plot their escape? They must have their reasons, but all we know is their climbing is noisy and precarious.
Fortunately, they leave the fan alone during the night. As soon as the sun is up, though, either Rocket or Robot will inevitably try scrabbling up the fan and/or the curtains.
Usually, I remember to take down the fan and close the window first thing. That did not happen on Monday morning.
I was downstairs refilling my precious coffee when I heard the familiar sound of something heavy and plastic becoming detached from the bedroom window. I sighed, gathered my things, and went upstairs. I expected to find the fan fallen on the carpet and a fluffed-up cat crouched in the hallway, pretending nothing was wrong.
Instead I found the fan still upright, and Rocket sitting on top of it. He seemed to have popped one corner of the screen out of its frame – and he was very interested in getting out onto the roof.
I grabbed him and the still-whirring fan and chucked the former onto the bed and propped the latter against the wall.
And then the question occurred to me. I dreaded the answer before the thought was even fully formed: where’s Robot?
I looked back out the window.
She was crouched at the edge of the roof, eating something out of the gutter. (She likes to eat twigs. We have strange cats.)
I prioritized and acted with precision borne from pet-related crisis:
- Lock Rocket in the bathroom to keep him from joining Robot. (Deal with whatever he does to the bathroom later.)
- Turn off fan to avoid fire, sliced-off fingers, shredded drapes, etc.
- Put fan down. Need maximum dexterity.
- Regret not putting on proper bra in case I have to run outside to chase down Robot.
I reached through the gap and started tapping on the roof. “Robot!” I used my sweetest sing-song pleading, even though I’d have much preferred cussing her out. “Robot, please come back, don’t make me go on the roof. Heeeeere, kitty kitty!”
Her attention remained on the gutter. I tried not to think about what she might be eating – instead, it gave me an idea.
I sprinted into the hallway, dumped a handful of kibble into her bowl, and brought it to the window, levering the screen out with one hand and rattling the bowl with the other.
“Come here, kitty!” Rattle rattle rattle.
She looked back and, praise be unto the Lord, padded gracefully up the shingles. I propped the bowl up against my hip and seized her, hauling her back through the screen.
Midway through the process, the screen popped out of its frame.
I held onto it with my left hand, not daring to move it too much in case it made a noise and spooked her. The food bowl tipped, scattering kibble onto the windowsill and carpet. Robot let me drag her back into the house and launch her onto the bed, as far as I could safely throw her, while I figured out how to reattach the screen.
It didn’t cooperate, but Robot was happy to clean up the spilled kibble for me.
I left the screen in the bathroom for my husband to deal with. Rocket immediately returned to the windowsill, seeking the escape route his sister had taken advantage of.
Robot, unrepentant monster that she is, fell asleep on the floor.
If there’s an “old enough to know better” threshold for cats, I really hope they hit it soon. Summer is coming, and I do not want any more cats exploring the roof.
I do, however, want air conditioning.