Tuesday, July 3, 2007

A Couple of Loose Screws

Before Belle came home to live with us, Molly and I spent a lot of time getting the house ready for a new puppy. The first thing we had to do was find a way to puppy proof the cat box. (Cat poop is a favorite doggy treat delicacy - it is often referred to in dog circles as "the almond roca" of dog treats. Thanks, Judy, for that enlightenment). I found a wooden cat door online that was intended to be installed on any door and "includes everything needed for correct installation". The website promised the frame was simple to install and required very few tools, a skilsaw, a drill, and a screw driver. Simple, I thought! We can do this - it will be a mother-daughter carpentry bonding moment! When the frame arrived however, we discovered we didn't count on the frame not fitting the basement door. We also didn't have a skilsaw.

Using some convoluted logic (why try to find a skilsaw if there's no place to install the door), we worked on the easy problem first. We did what homeowners the world over do whenever they don't have a tool, we started calling any and all relatives and friends to check out their tool stash. We got lucky - Grandpa was our first and last call. Not only did he have a skilsaw, but he was willing to lend it to us without proof of insurance or skill but first, he had to get it back from son-in-law #3 (why and how long SIL #3 had the skilsaw is another story that will have to be told in a different blog someday).

Once we had the skilsaw, we went to work on the tougher problem. If the cat door couldn't be installed in a door, where else could it be installed? After pondering this conundrum a bit, we decided to cut a hole in the wall! Of course, since the cat door wasn't designed for this type of use, it wasn't shaped quite right. The original catdoor frame was u-shaped - there wasn't a bottom (or top?) to the U. Since leaving the sheetrock exposed at the bottom of the frame wasn't an option, we improvised. Off we went to Menards to peruse the various offerings in stock wooden moldings. The one that matched the best came in eight foot lengths - and eight foot lengths only. Tools required to cut said length to correct size; tape measure, pencil, and a vice to hold the wood in place while cutting to size. Not only did we have each of the tools, but I could find all three!

So far, so good. Molly and I read and reread the instructions on how to use the "template" included with the cat door kit. It seemed simple enough. We measured and remeasured where we wanted the door. We drew the template on the wall. And then, I totally got the yips when it came to actually cutting a hole. Through the wall. What if I screwed up? I had visions of the entire wall being destroyed, fingers cut off, blood and gore leaving a trail of carnage that could never be cleaned. I decided I needed to call Someone Who Knows What He's Doing (SWKWHD). My dentist! I promised him lunch if he would come and supervise.

Of course, as soon as I hung up, my pride got the better of me and I thought, "Molly and I can do this!". Down the stairs we went, and we cut the hole. No blood, no gore, and a pretty fine job if I say so myself. When SWKWHD arrived, he found us contemplating how to attach the frame with screws that, by our reckoning, were about twice as long as the combined width of the frame, the sheetrock and the backing. Although he was mildly surprised that we had gone ahead without his drilling expertise, he happily informed us that we would need shorter screws. After looking through my entire stock of loose screws, we found none that were the right size and shape. Shocking, I know. One more trip to the hardware store for what we needed, and voila', the door was installed.

The only thing left to worry about was if the cats would use it, or more specifically would Woobs, the fat cat, fit through it. As you can see below, we needn't have worried. Faced with their food behind the newly closed door and a strange new opening in a wall, the cats did what cats always do. They got curious.

Oh, yeah - one more thing. In addition to misrepresenting the bit about "includes everything needed", the makers of the cat frame forgot one other important note about their product; it makes a great dog frame as well!

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Sara Latta, said...

Ummm...I hope you looked into getting one of those dome-covered litter boxes and decided it wouldn't work before going to all that trouble. But of course that wouldn't have made such a great story--or a great dog frame.

Speak(er) said...

I've tried every type of litter box made, but alas, my cats will have nothing to do with "domed stadiums". Woobs is just too large - he often misses the box even though he's standing in it because his backside is hanging over the edge. Ole' is Mr. Fastidious. If there is so much as one roca in the box, he won't use it. Hence, I have three boxes on the go all the time - and all are cleaned after every meal.

Sara Latta, said...

Wow, you clean them after every meal. Our poor cats...Actually, one of our cats will often perch, bird-like, on the side of the cat pan so that she doesn't have to step in the litter if she deems it too dirty. And then she does a "ceremonial" cover-up on the floor beside the litterbox.

I'm a bad cat owner.