The Cat Rules List

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6. SUPERVISING (a.k.a. HAMPERING)

It is well known that humans are incapable of performing even the simplest of tasks without feline supervision and/or assistance. This supervision is absurdly known by the humans as "Hampering". If one of your humans is engaged in some close activity and any others are idle, stay with the busy one. It would take a large book to describe all of the activities which need to be supervised, so only a condensed list is presented below.
  1. When supervising cooking, sit just behind the left heel of the cook. You cannot be seen and thereby stand a better chance of being stepped on and then picked up and comforted.
  2. For book readers, get in close under the chin, between eyes and book, unless you can lie across the book itself. unless you can lie across the book itself.
  3. For television watchers, be sure to settle down in their laps just before a commercial break when they're most likely to want to get up and do something.
  4. For knitting projects or paperwork, lie on the work in the most appropriate manner so as to obscure the maximum amount, or at least the most important part. Pretend to doze, but every so often reach out and slap the pencil or knitting needles. The worker may try to distract you; ignore it. Remember, the aim is to Hamper work. Embroidery and needlepoint projects make great hammocks in spite of what the humans may tell you.
  5. For people paying bills (monthly activity) or working on income taxes or Christmas cards (annual activity), keep in mind the aim: to Hamper! First, sit on the paper being worked on. When dislodged, watch sadly from the side of the table. When activity proceeds nicely, roll around on the papers, scattering them to the best of your ability. After being removed for the second time, push pens, pencils, and erasers off the table, one at a time. If the items are arranged in neat piles on the table, it is your job to maximize Hampering by scattering the documents. A clever way involves a co-conspirator, preferably another Cat, but a dog will do. In the next room, stage an altercation with the conspirator. Tear around the room until you build up a good speed, then race into the room with the slaving human and leap onto the table, skidding appropriately to wipe out all the piles. With practice, you can get the blame put on the other cat (or dog) and perhaps even get a few cuddles and "Did the mean kitty/doggie pick on you?" condolences.
  6. Speaking of Christmas, this annual event presents many opportunities to Hamper. When the human is trying to wrap presents, go for the Paper Mice that hide under the wrapping paper that is on the floor. Do your best to shred their hiding places. Ribbons also make great toys! Be sure to attack the loose ends as the humans struggle to wrap their presents in spite of you. If there are any bows, try to steal them and run under the bed with them. If the human does not give chase (thinking he/she will "sacrifice" one for the sake of peace and quiet), go back and steal another! Snitch the gift tags before the human can put them on the presents, or for more fun, after they put them on. Watch out for sneaky distraction tricks like putting Scotch tape in your fur! Climbing up and lurking in the Christmas tree is also fun (though beware the sticky sap that some have) and makes for a good hiding place, provided you can stay still and not knock off any ornaments. Tinsel garlands make great toys (but not good food). Ornaments are not such great toys, however, because they break into lots of sharp pieces which can cut your feet (not to mention incite yelling fits in the humans).
  7. When a human is holding the newspaper in front of him/her, be sure to jump at the back of the paper. They love surprises. If the human has the newspaper flat on the floor or a table, lie down right in the middle of it. Humans can read through your lovely fur if they try hard enough.
  8. As often as possible, dart quickly and as close as possible in front of the human, especially: on stairs; when they have something in their arms; in the dark; and when they first get up in the morning. This will help their coordination skills.
  9. If your female (or sometimes male) human is trying to arrange her/his hair in the morning, and if it is long enough, treat it like you would any other strings. Try to bat, grab, and generally attack it. Steal any elastics or "scrunchies" that the human might wish to use to tie down her/his hair and duck under the bed with them. This only works if the human isn't intelligent enough to have a couple of "sacrifice" scrunchies which you are allowed to steal with only token resistance. Once you twig onto this tactic, try standing in front of the mirror or jumping onto your human's head or shoulders. This should get you evicted from the room and you can spend the rest of the time meowing piteously at the door.
  10. Always sleep on the human at night so s/he cannot move around. See the Bed Hog Club under CAT CLUBS for a suggestion.
  11. When a human is attempting to "make the bed", hop on it and curl up in the middle, or pounce on the sheet the human is trying to rearrange. If the human tries to ignore you by covering you with the sheets, move around and try to mess things up. Protest loudly when you're evicted.
  12. Suitcases always mean that your human is about to abandon you, so it is important to prolong the packing process as much as possible. As soon as one is opened up, jump in and curl up for a nap or chase your tail and/or attack items put inside. It is of paramount importance to shed as much hair as possible during the Hampering process to make sure other Cats (and humans) know that your human is already owned.
  13. Laundry presents many opportunities to Hamper (hence the other name for the laundry basket--the laundry hamper). Laundry fresh from the dryer is a perfect bed, since it is warm and soft. As soon as it is put on the bed for sorting, arrange yourself for a nap. If the human removes you, keep returning until the laundry isn't warm anymore. Now it's play time. Pounce on anything the human tries to move around for folding, especially socks and nylons. For added fun, grab a sock and hide under the bed.
  14. When a human is working at a computer, s/he isn't paying attention to you. Fortunately, this problem is easy to remedy, but persistence is critical because humans seem to hold the computer in ridiculously high regard. You can easily obstruct the human's view of the screen with your beautiful tail, or if it's low enough, with your even more beautiful body. Trampling or sprawling on the keyboard is always good for some attention as well. Pay special attention to the keys marked "Esc", "Del", and "Brk". If you need to nap while supervising your human, good places are the keyboard, on top of the plastic thing with the cord that the humans laughably call a "mouse", or on the human's arms. If the human insists on removing you from these choice locations, there's always the lap. If possible, while in the lap try to drape yourself on one of the human's arms. Also feel free to knock pens, papers, diskettes, Post-It notes, and anything else accessible onto the floor. Should you decide that the human has spent enough time at the computer, you must draw him/her away from it. Hop onto the nearest table, counter, or shelf that is within sight of the computer table and begin to knock things off, one at a time. Terrorize any birds if your human has them. Fight noisily with the other four-foots in the house or get into particularly destructive Tag games, and so on. Bear in mind that these sorts of shenanigans will likely enrage the human, so you had better have a safe haven to run to when he/she comes charging in after you.
  15. High-tech devices create the possibilities for high-tech Hampering, such as the computer example above. Many of the humans' entertainment devices like TVs, VCRs, and stereos have flat rectangular doodads with lots of buttons on them called "remote controls", which are often left on coffee tables which are part of your patrol rounds. You can do the obvious (i.e. hide them), but it is a well-established fact that all those little buttons are great for massaging your feet. Be sure to trample them thoroughly for the best effect! If they are pointed towards the things they control, you can also get the machines to turn on, make timer lights flash, generally scramble things up, and in short, Hamper! Sometimes your actions will have undesireable side effects, such as a sudden, terrifying blast of noise from a stereo or TV (which may lead to a terrifying blast of noise from the humans, especially if you do this in the early morning!). If this happens, run and hide under the bed and wait it out. Answering machines are also good to walk on. Trampling on certain buttons will make interesting things happen, and possibly Hamper by making messages disappear.
  16. If your human is talking on the telephone (and hence not giving you the required 100% Undivided Attention), be sure to demand attention by standing on the base and trampling as many buttons as possible, or the big one that hangs up the line if you can.
  17. Help your human clean the apartment by walking across and thoroughly inspecting each surface as s/he finishes dusting it. Pay particular attention to glass-top tables.
  18. The best time to use your litter box is just after the human has cleaned it, since there are no nasty things for you to step in. Lurk in the background until the cleaning is done, then leap in and do your business, being sure to get some litter on the floor to keep your slave busy. Ignore any foul commentary from the humans at the extra work you create.
  19. Pretending to be all lovey and cute is a good way to Hamper, if you have the stomach for it, because it's especially hard for the humans to get mad at you. You can employ all the usual wake-up tactics in the morning, then immediately launch into loud purring, head-butting, and cuddling until the human gets up, at which point you can race to the food dish. This tactic can be used to try to deviously get onto normally forbidden zones like the kitchen counter by acting as if you can't get close enough to them for pets and rubs. When the human's attention is diverted (perhaps by a co-conspirator), snatch something (preferably edible or a good toy) and run for it. Interference with newspaper reading, computer use, etc., are just a few of the nearly unlimited potential for Hampering in this manner.
  20. As you get older, hampering can get to be more of a challenge. One favorite of older cats is the 'Keep them in bed' technique. Just before your human's noisebox goes off in the morning, assume a comfortable position next to him/her. Purring, head nuzzling, and other techniques may need to be employed. Try to position yourself so that your human will not be able to hit the noisebox easily to make it shut off. (It is unknown why humans do this since it just comes back on anyway.) It is important to keep your human in bed as long as possible. If you have two humans in the same bed they will not always get up at the same time, so be sure to apply the technique to the human that will awaken first. When your human moves you out of the way act as if arthritic and unawake yourself. As soon as the human makes his/her way to the bathroom, be sure to walk in front of him/her. This is especially amusing in the morning, though it might result in a kick from a less alert human. When the first human goes into the rainmaker to get wet, take care of your personal business and then prepare to hamper the other in the same way.
  21. Guidelines for where to sit or lie down.
    1. It is considered bad form to lie on the bare floor, couch, or bed. An exception is made for the human's favourite chair, which you are allowed to sit on no matter what (or who) is there.
    2. On a bed, there will often be laundry or clothes lying there. It is your duty to lie on them to get your beautiful fur on them. If there is a choice, choose either the cleanest item or the item which contrasts most strongly with your fur. If your human protests, act cute.
    3. It is also your duty to lie in an area that makes your human contort to the greatest extent if s/he wishes to share the bed/couch with you.
    4. Even resting on a book or a newspaper on the floor is preferable to just lying on the floor. Newspapers are particularly important to sleep on if your human has them on the floor for his/her reading convenience.
    5. Select a chair to sleep on that Hampers your human the most. For example, if your human is doing a craft on the kitchen table to prevent your interference, it is your duty to take a nap on the chair your human would like to be sitting in. No other chair at the kitchen table will do.
    6. If kicked off any preferred seating, it is of critical importance that you not immediately go about your business. You must either sit still for a time, washing yourself to save face, or lie on the floor to make your human feel guilty, and let him know you're waiting for the chair. If the human cheats by moving your resting chair and/or sitting in a different one (in a situation such as the kitchen table example above), you may be able to continue Hampering by jumping into the human's lap. If the human has to get up to get something, and dumps you off (if you've elected to take the lap option), immediately occupy the chair, curl up to enjoy the warmth, and look smug. Of course, the human will just switch chairs or throw you off again. This game can be played for hours.

7. SCRATCHING POSTS

It is advised that Cats use any scratching post the humans may provide. They are very protective of what they think is their property and will object strongly if they catch you sharpening your claws on it. Being sneaky and doing it when they aren't around won't help, as they are very observant. If you are an outdoor kitty, trees are good. Sharpening your claws on a human is a definite no-no! Some humans come equipped with "jeans", which can be scratched without inflicting too much injury. Attempts to climb up them will result in further attention, albeit perhaps not the kind you wish.

8. THE VACUUM CLEANER

This appalling Beast is known by many names, Cat Eater being the most prevalent. Normally pliable, agreeable humans will turn into raging monsters while under Its influence, running around the house sucking up all the carefully shed Cat hair and terrorizing the feline residents with evil glee. Nothing can stop It until the influence is over and the foul device is put back into Its closet. All you can do is run and hide when you hear the engine roar to life and hope that It doesn't find you. On some occasions, however, the humans are forced to open up the vacuum cleaner and remove a swollen, dusty bag from within. This is Its stomach, and must be destroyed if you can get the chance. Do not worry if the human yells at you, for the yell is really that of the Beast in pain. Some Cat circles are of the belief that the weekly ritual is actually a struggle for control, as the Beast attempts to free itself from the human's grasp so it can rampage at will. The back and forth motions of the machine are supposedly indicators of this battle of wills. Regardless of the interpretation, Cats should definitely keep a low profile until the Beast is returned to its lair and the human returns to normal.

9. DOORS

To get a door opened, stand on your hind legs and hammer it with your forepaws and/or yowl. Once the door is opened, it is not necessary to use it. After you have ordered an "outside" door opened, stand halfway in and out and think about several things. (See also the Door Into Summer Club.) This is particularly important during very cold weather, rain, snow, or mosquito season. Protest if the human uses a foot to "encourage" you to leave. Sometimes doors can be opened by Cats without the aid of humans. Such doors must be kept open for the Cat(s) to investigate within at any time. Swinging doors are to be avoided at all costs; their nickname "Tail-Biter" tells it all.

If a human goes into a room, especially the bathroom, and closes the door to exclude a Cat, meow pathetically and try to stick your paws under the door to open it. If the human relents, lets you in and then closes the door, immediately demand to be let out. If the human lets you out and closes the door, immediately demand to be let in again. This is especially fun when it's the bathroom and there are guests. This game can be played until the human wises up and hoses you with a squirt gun. Scuttle out of range and wash yourself, to pretend that the assault on your Dignity didn't happen.

If a door that is usually kept closed, such as a closet door, is opened, you must immediately rush in to investigate to see if anything has changed since the last time you were in there. Resist the human's attempts to remove you before you have completed your investigation. Protest loudly when the human removes you anyway.

Some Cats have preferred doors that they will always use to get in and out of a house. Just which door will depend on the house and often on the individual Cat. Be sure not to waver from your door of choice, no matter how inconvenient it may be for the human who is going to let you out.

10. DRAWERS

As with doors, drawers represent Restrictions to Freedom of Access. Although sometimes a clever Cat can figure out how to open a door, opening drawers is almost impossible and must be done by a human. Any drawer that can be opened by a Cat, of course, must be on a regular basis, especially if it's a dresser drawer, since they provide comfy beds for naps. Needless to say, when a drawer is opened, it is imperative that its contents be investigated for items which are potentially edible, toys and/or comfortable resting places. Dresser drawers must also have their contents "pre-haired", i.e. the clean clothes must have Cat hair deposited on them before they are even worn, just in case the humans are able to get out of the house in the morning without the Cat being able to shed on them.

As soon as you hear a drawer open, immediately rush to the scene and jump in. If the human removes you, be persistent, since every time you get picked up, you shed some hair. This is best if it can be done with a partner -- one jumps in as the other is removed. Do your best to rearrange the contents of clothing drawers by playing "Find the Mouse" as far back as you can reach. Scratch yourself vigorously to deposit the required hair. This is an excellent form of early-morning HAMPERING (see above)!

A Hide-and-Seek game can be played if a human is distracted by something and leaves a drawer open. Burrow in as far as you can and make yourself at home. If the human doesn't see you when he comes back and closes the drawer, the game begins. It is especially effective in filing cabinets where there are often large empty spaces behind all the papers where you can't be seen. After a few minutes, start yowling loudly so that the human will want to find you. With the right projections, you can keep the human searching for several minutes before he/she thinks of looking in the dresser or filing cabinet. When revealed, glower at the human reproachfully and jump out with as much Dignity as you can muster. Be sure to leave plenty of hair behind. The first recorded instance in the literature was with a Cat named Pandora who kept her humans looking for her for a couple of days! See also GAMES, #23.

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