rushthatspeaks: (Default)
[personal profile] rushthatspeaks
Our Lucien-cat is still alive. Ruth and I went to Provincetown for the weekend, and I thought I had just about managed to cat-proof the kitchen before we left, but this turned out not to be the case.

The thing is, Lucien's medical issues mean that he never, ever stops feeling hungry-- his body has literally forgotten what it is like to feel full-- and he is applying all of his considerable intellect and energy to the question of getting more food. It is really very draining to live with. We are already feeding him as much as he can physically process, and have no way to reason with him further. And it's difficult to tell what human food he'll think is food, and what his mobility restrictions actually are at any given moment (I suspect that last one of varying by the day, too).

Therefore, the list of things he has tried to eat in the house recently includes incidents like the time I found him sinking his fangs into the outside plastic of a packet of ramen, just like a little kitty vampire. I told him sternly that he was not a graduate student, but he kept trying, so now everything pasta-like has been added to the long, long list of things that cannot be stored anywhere cat-reachable. The list already included all pastry and bread products, all dairy and cheese products, avocados, and sorbet, as well as, of course, anything meat or meatlike and all forms of fish and shellfish. The problem is that 'stored anywhere' also means, for instance, 'put down on the counter while I get something else out of the fridge', or 'the spoon I have left in the pot between intervals of stirring', and such-like. He is an incentive to work clean in the kitchen in a way the chefs of my acquaintance would envy, because absolutely everything that one is not both holding and looking at has to be washed instantly before it becomes the subject of an Act of Cat.

Spent about an hour one night literally carrying him around everywhere I went, under one arm, as there was no other way to stop him from ninja-ing, and nobody liked that, I tell you what. Rearranging the entire kitchen is problematic due to limited space and the fact that his idea of food seems to keep expanding. He can't be kept out of the kitchen entirely, as he has to pass through it to get to the litterbox, and also it doesn't have any doors. Sigh.

So Ruth and I went away from the weekend, and everything I thought might be remotely of interest to him was either in the fridge, with a child safety lock on it because he can open the fridge, or in a cabinet, that we're duct-taping closed every time we use it because he can open the cabinets.

His actual cat food, the wet food in cans, we buy a flat at a time, still in the plastic, and stack in the kitchen. I'd known for a while that Lucien knows that food comes from cans, because he'll rub up against the flat burbling plaintively; I had vaguely considered moving the entire flat somewhere totally away from him, because I didn't want him to get frustrated having it just sitting right there. But then I figured it would be better to have him focusing on that then on, I don't know, the peanut butter, so I left it.

This was a mistake.

[personal profile] sovay and the cat-medication person we hired to come in and do the high-level cat-medicating while we were away can both corroborate:

Our cat has learned. How. To open. His own. Cans.

ALL BY HIMSELF and with NO OPPOSABLE THUMBS.

This is a multi-step process which involved him

a) digging through the plastic covering of the flat of cans

b) making sure not to pull the can he was after out of the flat entirely, because the other cans had to kind of wedge it in place so he could get some leverage

c) pulling up the pull-tab on the can lid somehow, probably with his teeth

and d) tugging on the pull-tab with his jaws as he pushed the can away from him with his front paws, which was, because the can was as I have mentioned wedged among other cans and the plastic, enough force to get the thing open.

[personal profile] sovay caught him during d), because it was apparently very loud and clangy and it was also four in the morning. After some understandable boggling, she put the open can in the fridge and hauled the flat into a we-hope-cat-inaccessible closet, thus at least temporarily ending his merrie games & tricks.

He has been telling me ever since I got home that I knew he was this intelligent when I left the house, and what did I think he would resort to when we only feed him two-and-a-half entire cans of insanely expensive prescription wet food per day never ever feed him. And I have been saying that there is a difference between knowledge in the abstract and in the, shall we say, concrete, and that if he has to be the Einstein of cats, maybe he could apply himself to more generally socially acceptable goals overall, and here we sit, staring at each other.

HE CAN OPEN A CAN BY HIMSELF.

I just. I don't even.

Date: 2016-06-21 04:29 am (UTC)
thistleingrey: (Default)
From: [personal profile] thistleingrey
Wow. Good job, Lucien, except.

Date: 2016-06-21 04:35 am (UTC)
erinptah: (Default)
From: [personal profile] erinptah
Wow. I am sympathetic to your plight, but also suitably impressed with this cat and his mad skillz.

Date: 2016-06-21 05:49 am (UTC)
marahmarie: Sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell (Default)
From: [personal profile] marahmarie
(here via Network)

Stopping by to say I can't get over how amazing your cat is. I admire smart cats and have had a few myself. They've opened doors, popped out screens to jump out windows, walked on my second story roof (I'll never figure that one out, as there was no obvious way myself, my mom and about 10 cat eyewitnesses could figure for any cat to even get up there, but there she was), pulled open drawers, squeezed beneath things that should have crushed them with absolutely no ill effect, dragged entire hunks of ham, pork and beef roasts uncut off my dining room tables, stolen food right out of my hand and mouth, knocked my plate and glass to the floor to get their own as I watched and who have performed many other acts of clearly seditious intelligence as I alternated between laughter and sheer awe but finding and opening the cat food cans while they are still in their flat (and understanding the physics needed to do so correctly) by far beats them all.

By the way, something I read recently on cats understanding physics might perhaps reassure - or scare - you that this cat's genius could potentially extend one day to #allcats.

My hat's off to your feline (with my sympathies to you for the strain this genius must obviously put you under).

Date: 2016-06-21 10:55 am (UTC)
loligo: Scully with blue glasses (Default)
From: [personal profile] loligo
I once had a cat who took approximately 3 years to figure out that both doors to the basement stairway led to the exact same placeā€¦ so now I know who got his extra brains.

Date: 2016-06-21 12:33 pm (UTC)
redbird: closeup of me drinking tea (Default)
From: [personal profile] redbird
Keeping oneself adequately fed would, in the usual case, be a socially acceptable goal; the problem here is that Lucien doesn't know what "enough" means anymore.

Date: 2016-06-21 01:24 pm (UTC)
genarti: ([misc] who walks by her wild lone)
From: [personal profile] genarti
Sweet merciful heavens. Opening cans by himself?! Our cats, who are admittedly not very bright, have difficulty sometimes with ajar doors! Lucien is terrifyingly brilliant and resourceful; I am mightily impressed, and also feeling pained at the very thought of the amount of work fending off his shenanigans must be.

Date: 2016-06-21 02:31 pm (UTC)
watersword: Keira Knightley, in Pride and Prejudice (2007), turning her head away from the viewer, the word "elizabeth" written near (Default)
From: [personal profile] watersword
.....I'll be cowering under my bed if you need me.

Date: 2016-06-21 04:06 pm (UTC)
movingfinger: (Default)
From: [personal profile] movingfinger
We're going to have to up our game...

Date: 2016-06-21 04:24 pm (UTC)
lilysea: Serious (Default)
From: [personal profile] lilysea
o.0

!

Oh, dear.

Date: 2016-06-21 05:27 pm (UTC)
yhlee: sleepy kitty (Cloud)
From: [personal profile] yhlee
!!!

Well, I can say he got Cloud's share of brains too...my cat is very sweet but not bright.

Date: 2016-06-22 09:12 am (UTC)
kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
From: [personal profile] kaberett
... that is beautiful.

Date: 2016-06-24 04:41 pm (UTC)
wordweaverlynn: (Default)
From: [personal profile] wordweaverlynn
I'm impressed.

Date: 2016-08-10 05:29 pm (UTC)
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] alatefeline
Oh. My.

Date: 2016-06-21 04:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] adrian-turtle.livejournal.com
I am in awe.

>if he has to be the Einstein of cats, maybe he could apply himself to more generally socially acceptable goals overall

Isn't performance art socially acceptable? It's too bad you have to take the flat away from him, because I'd love to see a video of him doing it again.

Date: 2016-06-23 12:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] schreibergasse.livejournal.com
What they said.

Date: 2016-06-21 04:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zurita2015.livejournal.com
!!!! Are there other cats nearby to learn from him???? Maybe you could start a cat school. Some lazy owners would prefer cats who can open cans (but then, the cats would open cans of human food too... and the humans would have to eat only the things that cats consider uneatable...)

Date: 2016-06-21 04:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gwynnega.livejournal.com
That is quite impressive.

Date: 2016-06-21 05:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] desperance.livejournal.com
So there was this one time I boiled a ham, and left it to cool in its water; and went into town actually thinking *there's no way the cats can get at that, immersed as it is in greasy warm water, and weighing twelve pounds as it does."

I came home to find the pot still on the stove, the water still in the pot, and the well-chewed ham on the kitchen floor. Which these were two cats who hate each other, and neither one of them could have achieved this by themselves. The rest is left as an exercise for the reader.

Date: 2016-06-21 05:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sovay.livejournal.com
c) pulling up the pull-tab on the can lid somehow, probably with his teeth

I expect so. I'm pretty sure he just chewed through the plastic. The part that really impresses me (aside from everything) is that the way the cans are designed, he had to pull the tab forward to crack the seal and then backward to peel the lid off. Since I don't think his current weight is sufficient to allow him to drag a heavy flat of unopened cans around without the aid of gravity, which only works in one direction, I'm thinking that part of the noise was Lucien obtaining an angle of attack for (c) and then relocating to a different angle for (d). Since he had only the one can to work with, either he arrived at this order of operations by trial and error or he just watched us enough times. I'm not willing to put the latter past him.

Date: 2016-06-21 06:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nineweaving.livejournal.com
Holy blap! A feline Tesla!

I told you that cat had superpowers.

This (following his ramen-entanglement) made me fall off my chair:

I told him sternly that he was not a graduate student

Nine



Date: 2016-06-21 06:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tiger-spot.livejournal.com
Nicely done, Lucien!

Date: 2016-06-21 09:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lydy.livejournal.com
I'm impressed. And amused. What a great cat. I know you'll miss him, so.

Date: 2016-06-21 10:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gallian.livejournal.com
Are you sure that's a cat and not a monkey in a clever disguise?

Just asking.

Date: 2016-06-21 11:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mrissa.livejournal.com
Hungry and bored is a bad bad bad combination. Oh cat.

Date: 2016-06-21 12:39 pm (UTC)

Date: 2016-06-21 01:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] just-ann-now.livejournal.com
*waves from Friends-of-Friends*

Wow. I thought it was impressive when my potbellied pig learned to unzip my daughter's backpack to get to her granola bars, but this takes the cake.

Date: 2016-06-21 10:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gaudior.livejournal.com
We are extremely cautious with cake.

Date: 2016-06-21 02:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] telophase.livejournal.com
Imagine what he'd do if he had thumbs!

Date: 2016-06-23 12:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] schreibergasse.livejournal.com
This is why we hope this never happens to [livejournal.com profile] sovay's cats.

Date: 2016-06-21 02:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] athenais.livejournal.com
A confounding discovery indeed! I do not envy you. But I am glad Lucien is still with us.

Date: 2016-06-21 04:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] carbonel.livejournal.com
Wow. A real-life refutation of the Unix joke.

(If you have the right version of Unix and type "cat food in a can," you get the error message "cat can't open food in a can.")

Date: 2016-06-22 03:55 am (UTC)

Date: 2016-07-15 09:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] james-nicoll.livejournal.com
May I share this?

Date: 2016-07-15 10:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rushthatspeaks.livejournal.com
Oh, sure. Fine with me.

Date: 2016-07-15 09:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] realinterrobang.livejournal.com
Here by way of a comment on [livejournal.com profile] james_nicoll's journal, and I'm simultaneously impressed and amused. Smart cats are both tremendous and a total pain in the fundament. I currently have one fairly smart one and one who's dumb as a sack of very sweet, affectionate hammers, so I really get to see the difference. Good luck, and best wishes to you when the inevitable happens, as I know you'll be devastated to lose such an epic cat.

Date: 2016-07-16 12:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dewline.livejournal.com
Likewise arriving here via James' LJ. Not a cat person myself, but I have enough such among my friends and acquaintances. Amazing and it puts me in mind of short stories by Jeffrey Kooistra to know such things happen in the real worlds.

"Cats with Thumbs"

Date: 2016-07-16 03:50 am (UTC)
ext_12246: (Ista)
From: [identity profile] thnidu.livejournal.com
Oh. My. God.

And I thought it was clever of my Ista to put a front paw "palm up" under the edge of the slightly-ajar door of my wooden wardrobe, pull it wide, and jump up to the next-to-top shelf to assault (successfully) the bag of cat food.

Date: 2016-07-16 11:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] agoodwinsmith.livejournal.com
Here by way of James Nicoll. So smart, so hungry - such a shame to have to deprive him of his hard earned gains. :)

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