knitting on the front lines of life

Month: April, 2012

This Cat is Not Playing

At 5:30 yesterday morning, thunder and lightning woke us up, and Alex and I realized at the same moment that his cat, Mr. Fu, was outside in the storm. We opened the back door to holler for him, and a minute later he answered with his “let me in” scream.

Since we got the robot vacuum, Mr. Fu pretty has adjusted his schedule to avoid it. He pretty much comes in to eat, use the litterbox, and nap. Roomba or no, he was coming in out of the rain yesterday.

He ate and then he wanted to play with one of his fuzzy glitter balls. I threw it, and both he and Emily went after it. Emily won. Mr. Fu was not pleased. In fact, he seemed kind of dazzled by the surprise turn of events. What dog plays with little kitty toys? What is the dog going to do with it? The dog is not batting it around like you’re supposed to? And by the way…why was the dog even awake? It’s not even FOOD time yet. Fu seemed totally confused.

Emily usually plays with bones, wanting you to take them away from her and then throw them (yeah, not a great idea.) Once she hit 9 years of age, the vet suggested no more frisbees, so she’s kinda stuck with bones, balls, stuffed toys (which she destroys), and the occasional (in a hushed voice) pig’s ear.

Once she had the kitty’s toy, she wanted to play. In typical boxer fashion, she turned her head from side to side, trying to tempt Mr. Fu to try to take it from her.

When out of the blue, comes that little killer’s paw, and snap, the game was on… for like two seconds. After huffing and puffing and looking interested, Emily had to face the fact that she had a silly cat toy in her mouth and the cat was not interested in trying to take it back.

The cat was so completely over all of it that he just went to sleep on the other couch until Roomba began its scheduled maintenance of the living room carpet.

Mr. Fu has lived with me and Em since Alex went to Italy for four months last year, and he and Em have still not quite figured out how to play with each other. They snuggle, they do tricks together (oh yeah, I said that), but they can’t quite figure out how to play together. They play separately in the same room, occasionally knocking into one another and then not quite finding the way to interlock their games. The cat’s claws come out or the dog steps on the cat’s tail, and it’s game over.

This morning at 5:30, thunder rumbled, and I heard a strange “Eow” at the door. There was no “m” in that “meow,” but I just thought he was insistent. Yeah, no. Turns out he was howling around the live bird in his mouth. Okay, a semi-live bird. As soon as he deposited the bird on the carpet, he let out a yowl of triumph, which, of course, brought Emily running in to see what was up with that. Mr. Fu looked nauseatingly proud of himself, and Emily looked… impressed. She seemed totally into the cat’s suggestion that she jump in on this half-dead animal action. Just as Emily was starting the boxer prance dance to begin the  game they really could play together, Alex (my knight in shining pajama pants) arrived with a spatula and delivered the bird back to the great outdoors. Then he lectured the cat on the difference between killing to eat and killing for fun while I yelled “cat assassin” in Italian.

Ick. Ick on so many levels. Ick. Even Roomba can’t clean that image from my mind. As soon as Alex re-wakes up, I will let Roomba clean the living room carpet, no matter what the cat thinks.


Mastro Lindo

A week after our wedding, I called Alex at the office to let him know that there was a strange package at our front door. It was a big box from iRobot. I thought he had ordered another gadget.

Alex loves gadgets. Since our wedding less than three weeks ago, my house has filled with gadgets. There’s a Roku to wirelessly stream content from our computers to the TV. I now have a food processor and a Dyson vacuum. We still have the gadgets he/I acquired for me while we were dating: HDTVs, an ipad, an iPhone, a DVD player, and a MacBook. He has moved my house from the 90s to the 2010s in less than two years. I mean, this guy controls the temperature and humidity of the Yarns of Italy warehouse from anywhere in the world with a Nest, which learns his behaviors and adjusts the climate to suit his tastes and current weather conditions.

So when a box arrived from iRobot, I was pretty sure Alex was behind it. But Alex knew nothing about it. He came home. We opened it. It was a wedding gift from our friends Davide and Tatiana. It was a robot vacuum. Specifically, it was a Roomba 770. We left it in the box for a few days as we considered how the thing inside the box was going to effect our lives.

Last night, I opened the box. I pulled out the Roomba. I set up the base and turned on the robot. The little guy ran to his base and docked while Emily (the boxer) barked and Mr. Fu (the cat) sprinted down the hall to hide under the bed for an hour. While Alex ran the Dyson (kinda like cleaning the house so the housekeeper can come), the neighbor rang the doorbell, and the dog freaked out again. By 8 PM, Roomba was charged and ready to clean.

This model was made with people like me in mind: pet owners with allergies. It has HEPA filters, a larger bin, and better handling of pet hair than previous models. The problem is getting the pets to accept its presence and lack of interest in interacting with them. Emily’s a little farther along than Fu in this regard. When she failed to find a rear to sniff, she gave up her attempts to stage a dominance confrontation with the little robot. But then, I have to wonder a bit as it tends to bump into Emily quite often. For the first hour, she was pretty sure it was trying to take her toy, and we had to keep telling her to let it be. Right before it went to dock for the night, it did take her toy and move it across the room. I’ve never seen a dog look aghast before.

Mr. Fu decided to come back in the house as Roomba was making a second round (we cleaned the bin three times last night after having run the Dyson over the whole house!), and proceeded to walk backwards out the door. I was chatting with my mom on the phone as it happened, and all she could hear was me gasping and laughing at the cat’s reaction.

I am amazed at how much cleaning the little Roomba has already done. The pet jury is still out, but there’s a lot less dog and cat hair in my carpet, so they’re going to have to learn to deal. Roomba is especially obsessed with the cat’s box, and has spent a lot of time frantically rolling over and over the linoleum around it. I can’t wait until it fires up and goes to clean the bathroom while the cat’s in the box.

We decided the little Robot needs a name, so we call him “Mastro Lindo,” which is Mr. Clean in Italian. Ironically, it’s hard not to think of this robot that cleans up after pets as another pet. It’s kinda like having one of those fish that cleans the fish tank. You know it’s there to clean, but it still gets a name.

So thank you, Davide and Tatiana. You’ve given us not just the means to a cleaner, less allergenic house, but also hours and hours of entertainment.