When I pulled into the driveway, I’d stopped the car and got out to retrieve mail and the newspaper from their boxes. Having put the car in the garage and shut its door, my next plan of action was to have a snack, read the paper at the dining room table and then go to bed. Thankful for the yard light, I opened the unlocked house door and stepped into my unlit house. I reached for the switch on the wall and flipped on the entryway light. One of my black and white tuxedo cats was sitting upright in the center of the room. The sudden brightness made her blink her eyes. My other tuxedo cat sat bundled in a kitty loaf on the bench. She wasn’t asleep, but looked contented and happy. Lights or no lights, it didn’t matter to her.
The children were grown up and away from home. Arnie was out of town on an overnight trip and I’d just returned to an empty house from working an evening shift at the hospital.
I didn’t bother to turn on the radio or television, which is normal for me when I am home alone. Silence seems to amplify house sounds. The water pump in the basement kicked in and ran for a few minutes after I had washed my hands and my snack, an apple. I sliced the apple and made a peanut butter dip for it before sitting down at the table.
Moments later, deeply concentrating on an article on the second page of the newspaper, I suddenly heard a sound that made my heart pound. The knob on the door between me and the entryway was slowly turning. In the silence it went, “Creak, creak, click!” I whipped around and faced the door. I hadn’t heard anyone entering the house while preparing my apple snack! Who in the world could be in my entryway?
A breathless second passed as I pondered defense or retreat. The door knob creaked again, but no one pushed it open and entered. I jumped to my feet and yanked the door wide open-and found one of my tuxedo cats on her hindlegs.
Oskar wanted to be with me. Smart cat that she was, she knew that if the door knob turned, the door would open. She just hadn’t figured out the combination of turn and PUSH! Leaning down to pet her, I exclaimed, “Oskar, you old cat burglar!”
In the years that followed, this kitty would often reach up and use her front paws to turn the knob back and forth. If she did this when I was home alone it usually caused my hair to stand on end and my heart to pound like crazy until I realized that it was just my silly feline.
Arnie and I never used to lock our house. He always said, “All that locks do, is keep honest people honest.” After my husband died, I began to lock my house anyway and have become even more aware of house sounds. When the water pump runs too often or the furnace makes a funny noise, it means that I have to call a repairman. Some things don’t get fixed for a long time. The door that Oskar liked to try opening has become stiff. Sometimes I don’t push hard enough for it to latch.
Louie, my white and black cat, has learned that if he leans hard enough against the door, it will swing open. I resent his barging in when he merely feels like it. He is welcome in my house when I want him there.
One thing I won’t do is sleep with cats. They disturb my sleep by prowling around at night, coming and going, pouncing up onto the bed and then off again. One startled me awake with its ticklish whiskers once, as it came close to sniff my face. At bed time, I put the kitties in the entryway and shut the house door.
One night last week I awoke before morning and was frightened to hear a sound in the hallway outside my bedroom. I listened closely and heard light footsteps and then a low meow. I wondered, “Didn’t I shut the cats out of the house last night?” A moment later they strolled into my room. One jumped up and found a warm place next to my legs. The fattest cat jumped up and almost landed on my face.
When I escorted them back to the entryway, I discovered that I hadn’t pushed the entryway door shut tight enough! Since I live with cat burglars, I need to call my repairman to get that door fixed. The sooner the better!