Sunday, July 6, 2008

Cats and Cutting Boards

I have an image in my mind. In a factory somewhere, where they make the cutting boards that are used for sewing, there's a stage in the process that comes after the board itself has been printed, cut, and pressed to fold properly. It comes before they put the cutting board into its wrapper and package it up for shipping.

I can't say whether this step involves some sort of printing, or marking with a scent, or what. But at this station in the production line they treat the cutting board in such a way as to mark it clearly as belonging to cats.

I know it happens, because I see the results every time there's a cutting board pulled out in our house.

As soon as the cutting board is out, no matter whether its on a table, or the floor, or a bed, the cats come from all corners of the house. Immediately they begin to walk on it and lay on it. They know that it's theirs.

A cat that would never think of setting a paw on the dinner table (at least not while a human's looking--I have no illusions about how "good" my cats are when I'm not nearby) will immediately hop up on to the table and stroll across it like they paid for it themselves the moment that a cutting board has been placed on it. They'll even be careful not to put a paw on the tabletop itself, but the top of the cutting board is fair game.

When the hard working seamstresses drive the cats off the cutting boards the indignation is so thick in the air you can bite pieces off and chew it. "How dare those humans drive me off my board!" "Of course I own it, can't you tell?" "If you didn't want me on it, why did you lay it out?"

Then the battle of wills begins.

What, exactly constitutes being "on" the cutting board?

  • If you're laying so close that some of your fur just happens to hang over one edge of the board is that "on" the board?
  • If the fur is touching the board but no weight is being placed on it, is that "on" the board?
  • If one paw just happens to come to rest on the board when your attention is someplace else entirely is that being "on" the board?
  • Is it OK to lay on the board while you're out of the room pressing fabric or pattern pieces?
  • Is it OK to move on to the board if you put fabric or a pattern in front of your face so that you can't see me?
Not to mention that stretching a piece of fabric out on the board is a clear invitation. "Ah, now I see. You took me off the board so that you could spread out this wonderful new fabric and make it more comfortable! Lift me off and I'll take the fabric with me! These claws aren't just for looks, you know. You paid how much a yard? Well, I'm worth every penny of it, wouldn't you agree?"

This is how it goes. Funny, but nobody ever seems to plan an extra 20 minutes into their sewing time to account for dealing with the cats.

One of our cats, Zyelena, had a wonderful game she liked to play. After she'd been taken off the cutting board she'd clear out to a good way away. She'd usually sit where she could keep an eye on things but whoever was sewing couldn't see her. She'd wait until some delightful crinkly pieces of pattern got set out on the board.

Then, like a bolt of lightning, she'd come running and leap on to the pattern pieces and go sliding wildly across the cutting board, chased by shrieks and howls. She'd fly off the far end of the board, pattern pieces still attached to her feet. Then she'd leap and spring and disappear.

And watch some more...

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