How to Manifest a Kitten
Posted on January 6, 2016 Posted by John Scalzi 77 Comments
For when you absolutely, positively need a kitten to magically appear instantly. This is an incomplete list.
1. Close an interior door.
2. Open an exterior door.
3. Use the toilet.
4. Run a bath.
5. Type on a keyboard.
6. Clean the catbox. (They will immediately poo in it)
7. Feed the dog.
8. Feed the other cat.
9. Feed yourself.
10. Click the button that activates the laser pointer.
11. Try to take a nap.
12. Have the adult cat try to take a nap.
13. Indeed, have the adult cat try to do anything, because the kittens are convinced that the adult cat really just wants to play with them every waking hour of the day, which I assure you, is an opinion at wide variance to adult cat’s own.
14. Leave your toes unattended.
And of course,
For our cat, all we have to do is open a piece of string cheese and he’ll come running from where ever he is hiding.
I might argue the last point. Our cat (who we adopted as a kitten) turns his nose up at all things fish related. Strange, but true. He also enjoys chewing on, but not necessarily eating, fresh green beans. Cats man.
You left out “Move at all.”
Try to read. A cat will immediately appear between your eyes and the reading material.
How old is Zeus now?
Also, just curious how many litterboxes you have. We have indoor-only cats, so the “outside litterbox” isn’t an option. We’ve always heard the “one box per cat” idea. When we had three cats, we had two litterboxes, and that worked just fine. We lost our eldest cat right before Thanksgiving, but we still kept both boxes. I would assume that, since your cats are indoor/outdoor (do you let the kittens outside yet?), one inside box would probably do for Zeus and the kittens.
Tuna is the most effective as I’ve seen.
Substitute kid for cat and it still works
And for the opposite? Turn on the vacuum cleaner. Or, open the drawer with the flea medicine in it.
Yup. Cats and toes. An explosive mix.
I concur . . .
You forgot number 16: go to the lavatory
Sorry, my mistake. Scratch number 16, you have it covered. (as indeed was one of our kittens on one occasion. You have a good imagination so no need to say much more . . . . )
kennelliver: That’s already there as #3.
Feline manifestations in our house result from any of the following:
Opening a package of cheese of any variety (one cat).
A fresh tomato anywhere on the premises (the other cat).
A bowl of cooked black-eyed peas left unattended for more than a moment (both cats).
Attempting to do anything other than getting out a can of food at the Appointed Times For Meals (both cats).
Saying the word “Treat.” Or “Supper.” Or “Brekkies.” Or “Crunchy Noms.”
On the other hand, bringing out (or even touching) the travel crates will produce instant feline disappearance, as one cat correctly associates his crate with extremely unpleasant events at the vet’s office.
Nightshade1972, we have 12 cats and I think 7 litterboxes. However, all but one of them are massive storage containers with doorways cut in them, at least twice the area of a large normal litterbox.
Some of my cats appear whenever I go into the kitchen. I may have spoiled them a little. Also, one has been known to steal zucchini and cauliflower from the stove (when it was off, of course), apparently just to sample it.
its kind of already there, but for us. Open the fridge door. Normally brings the cat running, unless he is feeling particularly lazy today. In those circumstances he’ll come running if he heres the plastic wrap around a block of cheese being disturbed (he loves cheese).
For me, in the old days, before pop-top cans of cat food, the number one method was “Use can opener.” That cat knew the sound, and he was a talker when he thought it was food time–and a very strong-willed pest. When I wanted to open a can of soup, tomatoes, beans, tuna, or you-name-it when the cat was napping anywhere in the house, I routinely took the can and opener into the bathroom and turned the taps on to mask the sound. In good weather, I might nip out the back door with can and opener instead. I enticed him in from outside a time or two using the can opener method.
One enjoyable feature of visits to other people’s homes was that I could FREELY USE THEIR CAN OPENER! It felt very much like a guilty pleasure.
By the time the later cats came along, cat food manufacturers had changed to pop-tops, so those cats never learned to associate the can opener sound with food, and my cooking life got easier. But it was still years after that first cat died before I could casually use the can opener without automatically trying to recall where the cat was and whether he was sleeping.
Colonel Snuggledorf, in re vet appointments, it was uncanny how my cats knew, long before I got out the carrier, that it was a good day to make themselves scarce. I pretty much couldn’t let them go outside on the day of an appointment. And bringing out the carrier? Red alert! I used to wait until they were sound asleep and then very quietly got the carriers deployed so I could grab the sleeping cats and pop them into the carriers (top loader worked best) before they were fully aware of what was going on.
I can’t believe that you – of all people – forgot the infallible one. Bacon.
Also, in the days of hot air poppers, I had a mother / daughter pair who adored popcorn. The sound of the popper was also the sound of a hair dryer, so we had a lot of disappointed mornings. They never gave up hope, though.
After the last use I left the carrier out, with a soft blanket inside. All the cats know how to open the unlatched door, and it has become a prime napping spot for a cat seeking a little privacy.
The more precarious method of making cats appear is to tie your shoelaces or anything that may require the tangling or swinging of string or similar. Be prepared, however, as this can result in an explosive manifestation of kitteh.
Washing the dishes by hand seems to be the prime dinner bell signal for our two. And the crinkling of any bag must mean we’re getting out treats for them.
Crumpled piece of foil … ring from a gallon jug of milk … feather on a string from a length of bamboo … laser pointer (until they figure out they’re being had) … stairs going down … stairs going up (sleeping right in the middle, no less) … operating a power drill … fixing a leaky sink, naked (those dangly bits, just hanging there!) … walking toward a computer keyboard and %$!#^KHGJnghdi8%^#$@%%T:L58tuilH:Nfsg …
Open a bread bag, or cookies. Leave a pie or cake cooling on the counter. Magically, Cooper appears from nowhere! Amazing!
Sadly, all these examples require there to be a kitten already on the premises. I’m waiting for the one which works without that…
In our house they also appear when the Jeopardy theme music plays. They get fed their canned food right after Jeopardy, so the music makes them appear.
Put cat food, or better yet, tuna tinned in water (not oil) in a dish outside, Stevie. Cats will appear. So will birds, in my experience.
Take the dish inside at night, or you will also acquire raccoons, opossums, and any other local critter that would appreciate a nightime snack.
For us it was ‘open suitcase’. It was always “Oh clearly you want fur ALL OVER your holiday clothes and are desparately in need of my assistance. Luckily I am happy to oblige”.
We also used to have a cat who ate porridge. Plain porridge, no toppings!
Just started following your blog. This is the best thing I’ve read all day!
#13 is our new probably-a-maine-coon-mix, Hank McCoy. Established cat, Yuki, doesn’t have much interest in him and her interactions with him are mostly along this form:
Yuki: Get off my lawn…..*growls, retreats under couch*
Lucky for us, Hank is a very human-centric cat, but he does always look very confused and disappointed when she growls at him. it’s been 3 weeks. We are hoping she gets used to him soon. She was going nuts after the last cat passed away suddenly but we thought a few months would be enough time to mourn and maybe a friend would cheer her up. Evidently the new fluffmuppet isn’t quite what she was expecting.
Catnip. . .
This made me laugh so much! All of these are so so true :)
Answering my phone always manifests a long haired tortie who must have pets NOW in my home. Because I am obviously not paying attention to her, even if she was sound asleep until the phone was answered.
Fortunately she’s gorgeous. Cats!
I’ll add “Attempt to play video games”. If you have the time to play video games, then you have the time to pay attention to a kitten!
When my wife tried to do yoga, the cats will immediately appear and stretch out right next to her, as if to say, “silly human, this is how it’s done…”
How come there is the term “Dog gone tired” but not one for cats? I mean they do sleep ALL the time.
How to unmanifest a cat: have your 2 year old daughter notice the cat and promptly run screeching at it. Depending on how dumb/lacking survival instincts the cat is, you won’t see it again til your daughter goes to bed. However, you may have to remove the cat from her bed first – sunshine apparently trumps screechy balls of energy
Our vet told us one litterbox per cat plus one extra
Keith Young: I don’t have stairs, and have not needed to dig out the cordless drill. And dammit, I had to wipe down the keyboard and monitor after the bit about fixing a sink.
The cat who acquired me four and a half months ago: The ones requiring a dog or another cat don’t apply, but the others? oh my ghods yes.
2, 3, and 4: It’s a good thing that I live alone; the bathroom door latch doesn’t always work, so she’ll shove her way in and keep me company no matter what I’m doing in there.
11: The first three months and a half months she was here, she was very much I. Am. Not. A. Lap (or other parts of a human’s body). Cat. About three weeks ago, I caught a cold which turned into a rather nasty flareup of the COPD (so much for Christmas *wry*), and now it’s not so much try to take a nap, as try *not* to take a nap; sit on sofa with book or kindle or notebook; cat stealthily lies on top of me; I wake up anywhere from one to four hours later.
The latest has been: Make alfredo sauce. Add steamed broccoli and pasta. Dump into dish, take it to sofa while watching TV. I kept shoving her away from my dish. She finally seemed to give up; a few minutes later, there was a dainty black paw two inches in from the edge, planted firmly on the bottom of the plate. My reactions: *startle* *oh hell there’s not a camera in reach* *”Get OFF there!”*. She moved about a foot away, placidly licking her foot.
She’s 12 YEARS old, but more active than any kitten I’ve ever lived with, and there’ve been a few of those over the decades. The last five kittehs who’ve adopted me have been senior rescue cats, but this one has me outnumbered. (Happily, of course – never a moment of boredom…)
Or leave your laptop open!
I forgot to add: pipe cat videos to the TV. Some of my cats, Praline in particular, have become fans of Maru and will come watch for several minutes at a time if I watch them on the TV. (Pictures here.) Praline will also bat at videogame sprites occasionally, but he really seems to be transfixed by watching Maru.
I can manifest a 3-years-old-but-still-a-kitten, 22-pound behemoth of a bumblecat, named “DammitMalcolm,” simply by walking in the front door. 7.35 seconds after my key hits the lock, he will be at the door, singing me the song of his people. Loudly.
It’s quite clear that my youngest cat is in fact a dog.
Also, two addenda to #4, above: Running ANY water — sink, tub, basement slop sink — almost always works. Also, soaking in a hot bath for a long time often merits multiple manifestations … they’ll come play with the water for a bit, wander off, get bored, and come back to play in the water again. Ad infinitum, or at least until I wrinkle into an extremely large prune.
I have two mature cats who still respond like kittens. I also volunteer as a “Kitten Cuddler” at our local animal shelter. It’s interesting to watch the differences in ways kittens and cats interact with visitors. Some have never enjoyed the sound of a tuna can opening.
Cats! They’re awesome, aren’t they? So furry and stuff. Yeah, people say they kill birds but you know, I don’t know if they do. I mean, have you ever seen a cat kill a bird? I haven’t.
You forgot “Sit in your chair and go on the Internet.”
This is so accurate it’s almost frightening, especially the thing with the poop. WHY???
Alana, it’s because they’ve been waiting for the staff to get around to cleaning the bathroom. Who wants to go in a dirty bathroom? Cats have found that the staff tend to be disappointingly slow learners, so by the time the staff finally understands they are to clean the bathroom, the cats really need to go.
Feather on a string toy works every single time. I swear, Stanley can here it being picked up even while asleep.
Humpty-Dumpty sat on a wall.
Humpty-Dumpty had a great fall.
Just before Humpty took his great plunge
There was an orange tabby, just behind him!
The Kitten Manifesto would be a book I’d pick up, at least to read the blurbs…
Also dropping a piece of salmon, I think this is the material component of Summon Cat. But then he likes ham sandwich and licking butter knives. He’s odd.
Have fresh-caught fish. My cats would practically levitate for that. I LOL’d at number 13: poor Zeus!
“6. Clean the catbox. (They will immediately poo in it)”
Gotta argue with this one – mine don’t poo in it, they pee in it. My hypothesis is that it’s physically easier for them to do that at a moments notice, same as when they feel the need to contribute the litter tray when I go to the bathroom myself.
Open a packet of crisps (is potato chips still the american english equivalent?) . Our cats love crisps. Not to eat them, of course. That would be too normal. They expect you to hold it out for them to lick at. Once they’ve licked all the flavouring off, they ignore it and wait for the next one…
Its done wonders for my diet. Any time I think I might like a snack, I have to balance my hunger with my toleration for being mewed at, poked with insistent paws, or in extreme cases, climbed up.
Open the cabinet in which their food/treats are stored (younger cat is getting better at doing this herself lately)
Turn on the space heater
Open the dryer door (for surely clean and warm towels are inside, waiting to receive a fresh coat of cat hair)
The cat instinctively knows a toddler’s antipathy towards naptime
Light a fire, wrap a gift or work on a quilt (or any craft project involving string).
also try doing homework. my cat loves to distract me when im actually trying to do homework
Our Devon Rex is on permanent manifestation mode; she really likes to be close to her peeps. Like ‘Sit on your head while you are reading’ close. When we can’t find her (and she isn’t sitting on the kitchen heating vent) it is cause for worry. Stupidpants, the other adult cat, can always be brought out of wherever he has gotten off to by shaking the kibble bag. The kitten, however, has a checklist that looks very much like this list. We don’t have a dog and she doesn’t like toes but if you so much as move in the general direction of the food dish she scrambles over to it singing the song of her starving people (who have never been fed. Ever).
Fabric cutting boards apparently contain cat magnets. Not that cats object to fabric and patterns being spread out, quite the contrary, but just getting the board out results in cat teleportation to the middle of it.
Re: #6, we used to wait until Midnight (RIP) had just finished using the litter box to pull out the fresh litter, and he’d _still_ be dancing around, practically with his hind legs crossed, until you got the new litter in for him to use. And a few times, he didn’t even wait until we’d finished pouring the litter to jump in.
@Dave – Sadly, my cats have killed birds. When we still lived in the country they used to catch birds all the time. They could open the screen doors themselves, so they could bring their catch right into the living room for us. Of course, the birds weren’t always dead, so….
I once saw my cat Sweetpea catch a hummingbird right out of the air – with just her mouth!
But in spite of all that, cats are still so awesome. Sure, I hate to see the occasional bird kill, but on the plus side I never have to worry about rodents. And I comfort myself with the knowledge that they don’t kill many birds.
RE: the carrier thing. I usually bring it down from storage and hide it in my bedroom at least several hours and maybe a day before the vet appointment. That way it is easy to scoop them up and plop them in without them being at all suspecting. Before I came up with this trick I actually had to cancel a vet appointment because I COULD NOT get the cat out from under the couch. She saw the carrier in the hall and freaked.
Used to have a cat (sweetest, friendliest cat I’ve ever known, if not the brightest) who would HAVE to pee in the litter box when it got changed, even if she had gone just before we changed it. It wouldn’t matter. Venice would squeeze out a few drops when the litter was fresh.
I was going to say “try to read” or “do yoga” or “sit on the couch” but other, more timely commenters got there before me. :-)
How To Make a Kitten Vanish:
1) Pick her/him up for a cuddle.
@Elizabeth McFadden: we have one of those. Junior got rather foisted off on us, but we’ll keep him. His main trouble is (we think) a touch of senility, resulting in his singing the song of his people at ohmygawdthatsearly o’clock. We’re trying to teach him to wait until at least after 6:00 a.m., but he is also teaching the other dingaling, Zorro, to be a vocal pest. She’s the one who has the internal chronometer set to food o’clock. Between them, we are lucky to sleep (or get anything else done) at all.
My kitty, though older, learned breakfast, and dinner, within three days. If I accidently say these words in a sentence, she’ll run to her spot in the kitchen and wait patiently for me with those guilting eyes.
Change the sheets on the bed. Mine always ends up with a cat-shaped lump in it.
My cat wants to help me crochet. (He’s really bad at it.)
No cats, but my dog transports immediately if she hears me dressing in ‘real clothes’. She knows the difference between sweats, leggings and the dreaded Pants of Leaving.
Get the suitcase out. It will immediately be occupied by a furry guilt machine. ‘You’re going away? And leaving me with nothing but adoring neighbours ( who apparently secretly torture me the second you’re gone), to feed me? O the catmanity!’
Eviejoy, not only will one of my cats manifest if I change the sheets on the bed, but she immediately does the “Bluto the pirate” scene from “Animal House”. If I need to take them to the vet, we need to close all of the upstairs doors several hours before, so that the cats don’t retreat under the beds. My son is a cat whisperer (if not an actual cat in human guise), so we try to schedule the annual exams for times when he is home from college.
Ah, so the scamperbeasts don’t know about cheese yet, do they? Well, try to keep it from them as long as you can, because they will be hooked after the first taste.
Aside from the usual food-related manifestations, our cat has a sixth sense about furniture assembly. If you’re putting together something like a bookcase from IKEA, she will appear out of nowhere and sit in the most dangerous and inconvenient spot possible. Every. single. time.
My much-loved and long-departed Mary Jane would teleport from any point of the house when she heard anyone opening a packet of Pop-Tarts. (She had been raised from kittenhood in a house with two teenage boys before I adopted her as an adult cat.) We were usually able to pacify her by sharing the corners — and she quickly learned that two Pop-Tarts in a package x 4 corners each = 8 Pop-Tart corners. If all 8 corners were not forthcoming, she made her displeasure known. Don’t let anyone tell you that cats can’t count . . .
For the retro list: Spread out a newspaper.
Any excursion involving a shut bathroom door: entreating paws and piteous meows of “you’re going to drown, aren’t you?” “we need to make sure you’re okay!”