Mr. Ferguson, a strapping, manly cat, has been obsessed lately with my eave cupboards. He seems to think there are mice in there.
This would just be an exercise in household pest suppression and/or feline eccentricity, except that these cupboards are slipshod Harry Homeowner jobs, backed and floored with pretty flimsy plywood which had already developed gaps and warps before I ever moved in. An industrious cat can wriggle through these into the insulation and underfloor space, something Patricia Twinkle (of blessed memory) did when she was first introduced, terrified, to the new house. Once she emerged she never tried it again, and the same held for Nickel Catmium after I awoke one night around three A. M. to the sound of her yowling piteously from beneath the floorboards. On that occasion I had to hold two warped floor panels down so that she could get out the same way she got in (her weight had made the opening big enough from above, but below, she was stuck). I have been keeping foot lockers, out of season clothes bins and bricks in front of the cupboard doors ever since, but Fergie is irrepressible. He moves bricks. With brio.
Lately his industry has been such that clients look up and ask who is moving furniture upstairs, and yesterday morning, just around four-thirty, I came out of muzzy sleep to hear scraping and fumbling and a sound of claws hooking in fabric, probably the folded blanket I had tucked in to add a barrier to the back of the center cupboard where you find the worst gap in the boards. By the time I got the light on, the cupboard door was hanging open and there was no sign of Fergie.
Feature me, head down and crupper up, in a night shirt, at going on five in the morning, shining a flashlight into the back of a half-extruded cupboard and swearing a blue streak.
You couldn’t see that the blanket had been moved. The room was funereally silent. I became convinced he had concealed himself elsewhere in the house — it was better than imagining he had ducked into the floor and disappeared — and did two circuits of the three floors, uttering louder and louder profanities, until, just as I returned to my bedroom for the second time, Fergie sashayed out of the cupboard as if he had never been missing.
You know those children’s books — a wardrobe leads to Narnia, a back garden takes you into another time? I think I have one of those.
I got two more bricks from under the back porch, and later that day rolled up my sleeves, got a drill, and attached a screen door hook to the flimsy-latched cupboard door.
It seems to be holding. I should have done this a long time ago.