Every morning, I wake up and use the bathroom, with a black cat accompaniment. Shadow, our aptly named black cat my husband discovered on the side of the road, likes to follow by leading – this means he trots out in front of you and tries to guess which way you are going. When he isn’t sure, he stops right in front of your feet like a very solid, furry wall.
He sits on the sink while I sit on the toilet, and mostly it’s pretty companionable. He can be demanding – he’s trained me to turn on the sink for him so he can drink from the trickle. Or he digs in the sink so I will depress the drain guard and his trickle can become a puddle. If I don’t do these things, he fwaps my face with his tale. Accidentally, I’m sure.
My least favorite game is when he decides that he wants to sit on my lap and chew on my hands. This is a painful game that I don’t find a lot of fun in playing, so lately I’ve just been putting him back on the sink. Today he attacks the crap out of my hands, so I put him on the sink, well away from my hands, so he fwaps me with his tale once, and then looks like he’s going to bite me on my shoulder. I push him off the counter top.
I tell him, as he sits on the other side of the bathroom – out of biting range – looking at me with green eyes full of hurt condemnation, that I am not willing to be bitten this morning. I further remind him that I am larger than he is and that I have opposable thumbs, so he isn’t going to win in a fight and needs to stop trying. I wave my opposable thumbs at him and explain that opposable thumbs will win against biting – simply a matter of size here.
Seeing my lack of remorse, he leaves the whole area. Huffily he walks into the living room and then the kitchen. Then he comes back and acts as if he’s never seen me before. “Oh! There you are, human. Why, I haven’t seen you all day! Please skritch my head. Oh, would you turn on this water tap I’ve never seen before? Oh, thank you.”
This is called “resetting the room” and all of our cats do it. If they get squirted for destroying each other or eating human food they leave the room and when they return, they act as if everything is completely new and fresh. Reset. All memories from a few seconds ago are now null and void as the room resets when a cat is absent.
Will and I read an article a few years back about how it is difficult for humans to remember things as they go through doorways. The more doorways you go through, the more that you will forget what you meant to do. Therefore, you end up tracing your steps back to where you originally had the idea in the first place. We have started talking our ways through doorways (Iced tea, I’m getting iced tea) just to remember what we’re doing.
Cats have no such weakness, but being careful observers of human nature, they have noticed that doorways confuse our memory markers, so if you go through a doorway, the humans will forget whatever kitty transgression has been committed. Thus resetting the room. It doesn’t work, we always remember, but the hopeful look of innocence on cat’s face when they reset the room often does the trick.