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Honestly Sergeant, The Cat Did It

by Pam Shirk, North Carolina, USA


Tanada, my little black and white cop kitty is considered by all to be my cat. I was the one she bonded to after we rescued her from her first adoptive home. I was/am her usual sleeping platform. I am the one that she runs to when something goes wrong. I'm the one she rats to about the other cats or the kids doing anything she doesn't like. We even have similar personalities..

So, it was with mixed blessings that I watched her bond with Rob after he got back from E-6 training shortly after we rescued her. He teases me and tells me that if he had not been in training when we got her, she would have bonded only to him. But I know that she is Meomy's little girl. Tanada bonded with Rob and I so much that she resented us going into a room and closing the door on her. So, she figured out how to open the door by twisting the door knob. We eventually became used to having no privacy from the cat, but figured that was the extent of her devotion.

One morning I woke up and realized that it was 6:45, my usual time to get up and get the kids to school, and Rob was still in bed and snoring peacefully. Ok, Rob has claimed that he doesn't snore, he just breathes heavily, so he was just breathing heavily. I jumped out of bed and slapped him on the bottoms of his feet to get him up. He jumped out of bed, dislodging Tanada who was sitting upright on his hip, and was scrambling into his clothes when the phone rang. His first sergeant wanted to know why he wasn't at PT. Rob mumbled something about the alarm not working, listened to the phone for a few minutes, then hung up. He told me that he was to never be late again and to get his butt over to work as soon as he could get showered and into duty uniform, but he wasn't in trouble. I nodded and finished getting the kids ready for school and out the door. These things happen to anyone and Rob didn't make a habit of missing work. We knew though that if he were late a second time for the same reason, it could go bad for him.

That night, Rob made double sure he set the alarm and turned it on. Now this particular brand of clock had a button system for turning the alarm on and off, and a slider to set the type of alarm-- AM, FM radio and buzzer. Rob turned it on made sure it was set for radio and that the volume was loud enough to wake the dead and went to bed to sleep blissful dreams of whatever Rob doesn't dream about. (He says he doesn't dream or rather remember his dreams) I was a little more wary about this, as I was sure I saw Rob turn on the alarm the previous night, but went to sleep myself.

Sure enough, at 6:45 we were awakened by the phone ringing. The first sergeant wasn't as nice about Rob missing PT this time and he was ordered to see the first sergeant that afternoon. Rob went to work and I got the kids off to school. This was on a Friday and I figured that we could at least relax during the weekend and figure out what was going wrong with the alarm. I reset it for 9 am and waited for it to go off to make sure the clock was working correctly. Tanada sat in the middle of my bed and watched all my movements intently. Usually we played the making the bed game by that time and we hadn't started yet.

The alarm went off and Rob came home from work and told me that the first sergeant told him that if he was late one more time because of the clock, Rob would be looking at an article 15. For those who don't know, an article 15 is one of the first steps in the judicial punishment arsenal used by the military. The punishment could be any of a number of things, but the very least it would be a black mark on Rob's record and we didn't' want that. That night we set the alarm for 6 am and went to bed. Maybe it would work this time, if not, a new clock was in order.

At 5:45 I woke myself up to watch the clock. Tanada was sleeping peacefully on Rob's hip. Berfert was perched on my feet and Pumpkin was digging in the cat box in the bathroom. A normal early morning. I lay in bed pretending to sleep so that I could catch the kid that was coming into our room to turn off the clock.

I hadn't been watching very long when Tanada stood up from her perch on Rob's hip, stretched a little kitty stretch and ambled to the foot (literally, she was standing on Rob's foot) of the bed. From there she launched herself across the room and onto the dresser where the clock was kept. I was amazed. She had a distance of four feet over and around three feet elevation from the bed to the dresser, a gap that I wouldn't have expected any cat to be able to scale, but Tanada flew over it easily, like the professional that she is.

I nudged Rob awake and he lay beside me watching Tanada at work. She looked at the clock, stepped on it and walked back and forth a couple of times, then looked at it again. Satisfied, she leapt from the dresser back to the bed and then sat upright on Rob's hip, watching his face intently. I eased out of bed and checked the clock. Sure enough, the alarm was turned off. I could see that the wheels were turning as Rob reached over and fondled Tanada's ears gently.

Later, while the cats and I made breakfast, I heard Rob working on the deck behind the house. By the time I stuck my head out the Patio door to tell him that breakfast was ready, Rob had finished his invention. He had taken a scrap board and made a portable shelf out of it to place over the clock. One could put their hand in it to set and turn off the clock, but the cat couldn't walk on the alarm clock and turn the buttons off. So long as monkey paws didn't take up reaching under the board, Rob wouldn't have to worry about missing PT again because of alarm problems.

We tried the new system out and it worked perfectly. However, on Monday the first sergeant asked Rob if he had replaced his alarm clock. "No, First Sergeant." Rob said. "We solved the problem. The cat sat on it." The first sergeant asked for and got the explanation of what had happened. "Tell that cat, that if she ever pulls a stunt like that again, I'll have her here doing PT with you," he said. Tanada later decided that if she couldn't get daddy to stay home with her, she'd better help him leave on time. She got the boys to help her and Rob found himself being awakened at 6:05 am, whether he had work or not, by her licking his eyebrow and ear. If that didn't work she would snuffle in his ear then nip his earlobe. Rob was always on time to PT, even on the weekends.


Editor's note:

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