Some Cats and Convicts Never Do Learn

By Bill Hall

The curiosity of a cat greatly exceeds the memory of a cat.

I try to be a good cat leader. I try to teach our cats a thing or two, for all the good it does me. For instance, if I'm getting something out of our cluttered storage room, and a cat is in the vicinity, it will run in the storage room and climb among the boxes. A cat cannot resist a box. I don't know why. If you put a box on the floor, a cat will run into it. It must stem back to a time when cats lived in caves or something. There were cavemen. Maybe there were cavecats as well.

Whatever the reason, a cat is some kind of compulsive inspector. If there is any new nook or cranny, any kind of a sack or box or corner it hasn't been in before, it has to go in and look around. Cats have more curiosity than a Hollywood reporter.

Sometimes they slip into the storage shed when I have the door open and don't notice. I close the door and leave without realizing I have imprisoned a cat. Hours later, I will hear a muffled meowing. I open the door and the cat comes out, swearing at me like it's all my fault.

One time one of our cats disappeared for five days. We thought we'd never see him again. He suddenly turned up. Not long thereafter a neighbor asked if we had a large gray cat. I said yes. He told me he had opened the garage door after being out of town for five days and a large gray cat ran out, visibly angry at him. (It's never the cat's fault.)

Sometimes I try to teach our cats not to do things like that by giving them an overdose of isolation. I will be in the storage room. The cat will run in and start climbing among the boxes. I will call the cat, trying to reason with it, urging it to leave with me so that I can close the storage room door.

The cat continues to hide somewhere back there among the boxes, refusing to come out.

So I decide to teach the little twit a lesson. I close the door and leave the cat alone in the dark for a few minutes -- aversion therapy. Then I open the door and the cat runs out, cursing me for something that was its own fault.

I have been doing this for years. In that time, I have never found a cat that learned not to run in there. And they never learn to come out so they don't get trapped in there. They hate being locked inside a dark room. But they run in there anyway -- every time.

They are busybodies. They just have to know what we have stored in there. I don't know why. It's some kind of natural nosiness. I guess they want to know their territory. They explore everything -- and learn nothing. The curiosity of a cat does indeed exceed the memory of a cat.

If you did that to me, I would learn. If I were visiting in your home and accompanied you to your storage room, I would not make it difficult to get me out of there. In the first place, I wouldn't go climbing around the shelves rummaging through the boxes. And I would leave when asked like a civilized person.

Even if, just once, I did refuse to come out and you closed the door and locked me in there to teach me a lesson, I would never do it again.

But not a cat. Cats are like repeat offenders in the criminal justice system. You would think a grown man would learn, once you had convicted him of stealing, put him in prison and told him the same thing would happen the next time that there would be no next time. You would think, after a few years in the slammer, he truly wouldn't ever do anything like that again.

But some guys never learn. Some of them just can't stay out of other people's money and out of society's storage rooms.

On the other hand, look who's talking. I admit I have been deliberately locking cats in storage rooms for years trying to teach them a lesson they never learn. It never works and yet I keep doing it. Obviously, a cat isn't the only one with a lousy memory.




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