Pan Outsmarts Feline Thieves

I have always thought that our kitty Pan was somewhat more intelligent than other cats, and my somewhat biased views have recently been proven entirely accurate.

Pan has a cat door so that she can come and go as she likes from our house. Her food is in the front porch so she has to go through the back porch, the kitchen, down the hall, and around the corner. I thought that this would surely be sufficient to discourage theft by the neighbourhood cats but they turned out to be bolder than I imagined. We had several different cat burglars, who would not only eat Pan's food, but leave delightful scent marks all around the house.

So we were forced to lock the door so that Pan could leave, once inside, but we had to let her into the house.

Pan was not happy with this arrangement. She started clawing at the cat door and meowing at us when she wanted to come inside. I thought that this was quite clever in itself, her letting us know when she wanted to come inside, until one day a few months ago.

It was a freezing night, clearly going to be a frost the next day. My husband and I left to get some dinner and when we left, Pan ran outside. I called to her to come back, warning her “You won’t be able to get back in ‘til we get back, you’ll get cold!” But she took off into the garden. When we got back I searched for her, calling around the garden, I didn’t want to leave her out in the cold all night. She wouldn’t come. After several minutes wandering in the cold and dark I gave up and went into the lounge, and there she was, curled up on the couch!

It took several more months for us to catch her in the act of letting herself in because as soon as she saw us watching she’d give up and meow at us, wondering why she should bother opening the door herself when we could very easily do it for her. We’d creep into the kitchen and peer around the corner whenever we heard the cat door banging away, but she’s a cat after all; hard to sneak up on.

Eventually we were able to view her method. She hooks the magnet at the bottom of the cat flap with her claw, then pulls it up into the air, and whips out her front paw to catch it before it closes again. Frequently this stage is repeated several times until she gets her paw under. She then lifts the door and shoves her little head through.

After weeks of wondering how I could differentiate between Pan and the other neighbourhood cats, so that she could come in but not them, she found the solution for me – she’s a smarty pants. Now we can go away overnight without worrying about her being cold and hungry, and her food tray, as well as our lounge furniture, goes undisturbed by the neighbourhood cat burglars.

Gina Whyte
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