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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- Always sleep on the human at night so s/he cannot move around. See
the Bed Hog Club under CAT CLUBS for a
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Guidelines for where to sit or lie down.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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.
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
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.
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
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.