The problem with putting a bell on the cat is that the cat then makes noise.
Oh, I hear you say, but that’s the point of putting a bell on a cat, to have it make noise. There would be little reason to put a bell on a cat if you wished it to be silent, after all. If silence were your goal, you could just leave the bell in its little box and not go to all the trouble of putting it on the cat – an animal generally not pleased when bells are placed upon it, and well equipped to demonstrate this fact. Putting a bell on a cat in the expectation of having it not make any noise is just wasted labor.
Yes, I reply, but there are reasons for wanting the cat to make noise. For example, there is the toll on song birds that might be avoided by removing the cat’s ability to sneak up on them.
Okay, you say, but why then put the bell on the indoor cat and not the outdoor cat?
This is a fair question.
The problem with the indoor cat is that she is a pest and a nuisance as far as the outdoor cat is concerned. The indoor cat is like that kid you knew in junior high who was always coming up to you and wanting to play the sorts of games you played in third grade and wouldn’t take no for an answer no matter how politely or rudely you turned him down and whom you didn’t want to play those games with even when you were in third grade.
And, as noted, the outdoor cat is well equipped to demonstrate displeasure in this matter.
We got tired of the hissing, the yowling, and the rest of the cat fighting that went on around here, and so we decided to bell the indoor cat so that she couldn’t sneak up on the outdoor cat and demand to play kitten games. Perhaps if the outdoor cat could hear her coming she could glide away to some other, less available space and the problem would be resolved.
Except for the fact that, as George Carlin once pointed out, the aliens have already landed here on Earth. They’re three feet high and visible only to cats. And when they make themselves known there is only one proper feline response, which is to go into spasms of frantic running about, racing through the halls, under the furniture, across the tables and – all too often – headlong into doors and walls in case there are secret passages there.
This is funny in the afternoons.
At 3am, however, the amusement value sort of pales.
At that hour of the morning you begin to question the wisdom of putting a bell on the cat, no matter what sort of annoyance said cat is to the other cat. You find yourself hoping that one of those secret passages will not be there and the cat will search for it so hard and fast that you can go to sleep again and wake up several hours later to find the cat still concussed and unconscious at the site of its last exploration.
But, alas, there are apparently more secret passages in the house than we originally bargained for.
And so, all night long, there is the frantic rumble of a thundering herd of cat (singular) accompanied by what sounds like Satan’s unanswered telephone.
They say that owning pets extends your lifespan, but sometimes it just feels longer is all.