Modifying Cat Behavior and Personal Firearm Responsibility

Michelle returned from town recently and presented me with a pair of pistols. I admired their heft, the quality of the maker’s craft, and their action. They felt good in my hand. I loaded and test fired them. They proved accurate at a good range.

I’d expected her to find something closer to the weapons I’d known and used as a boy: perhaps a Walther P38, translucent, in lime green or electric pink. Instead, these are a new breed of water pistol, modeled after science fiction ray guns. Still, they, like those I trusted so long ago, would do the job.

The job: keeping our younger cat, Spice, alive. Because, if she doesn’t stop crying, I’m going to kill her!

Spice, smug, and, for a brief moment, quiet (Photo: Sarah Zeiger).

We adore Spice, of course. Even as an adult she’s kittenish. When she’s in the right mood she’s sweet, loving, eager to be held, and her fur is rabbit-soft.

She also yowls loud, long, and piercingly. If she’s the least bit uncertain about anything (and she thrives on uncertainty) she lets go like a siren. She’s always done this, but lately we’ve realized that she knows that we don’t like it. Usually, she carefully positions herself out of reach before crying, and if anyone makes the slightest move, she flees. We’ve tried ignoring her, redirection, tapping her nose. Finally, we tried squirt guns.

Now that we have them, I’m reminded why I don’t carry a pistol in public, as Alaska law allows. I have a favorite saying: “When your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.” This, I find, is especially true with firearms.

Simply put, I like them too much.

If I tote a gunĀ around, I might begin to look for excuses to use it. As with real firearms, even more so with squirt guns.

The cabin’s been a bit damp lately. I’m behaving myself for the most part, as I’m determined to break Spice of her bad habit, but situations have escalated a few times, and there’s been collateral damage. I tend to err on the side of excess. Not every vocalization deserves a squirt, but sometimes, they get one anyway.

I’m trigger happy.

But Spice is quieter! She’s smart enough to recognize both pistols, and usually stays quiet while they’re close at hand, or she’ll run upstairs and cry out the window when she can’t hold it in any longer. She’s also getting good at hiding before she cries, or standing where she knows we won’t shoot, like in front of the hot wood stove.

Who will ultimately win is still very much in question, but I have hope.

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2 Responses to Modifying Cat Behavior and Personal Firearm Responsibility

  1. Joan says:

    Very funny! I can totally relate. We keep a couple of spray bottles (with adjustable squirt ranges) handy for two cats who are very, um… independent, shall we say?

  2. Mark Zeiger says:

    Shortly after I wrote these, I found Billy Collins’s poem, “Another Reason Why I Don’t Keep a Gun in the House.” His complaint was his neighbor’s dog, but the principle’s the same!

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