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The Cat Learned How to Work the WHAT?

When I carried him home, he was this tiny little bundle of fur, approximately three weeks old. He is mostly white, with some mutlicolored stripes, cute beyond belief, but he was being abused and starved at his current home, so I just couldn't leave him there. I tucked him under my sweatshirt and off we went. My husband and son came home from their respective schools, they both fell in love, we named him Machiavelli, and that was that.

In our home, he found three adult, spoiled and pampered feline friends, one dog who thinks she's a cat, food bowls that are always full, treats galore, toys in abundance, and fresh water always at hand. What more could a little fellow want? Life is good, for all of us.

I must admit, however, that we were not prepared for how smart he would turn out to be. I thought my other boys were pretty smart, but this fellow takes the cake.

When he was just a few months old, my husband and I were sitting in bed watching television, suddenly we heard him crying. I called out to him, to make sure he knew where we were, and to reassure him of our presence. He cried again so I asked him what he wanted. Well, he decided to show me, he came into our room and climbed up on our bed with his favorite food bowl in his mouth! It was empty, he wanted it filled, and I guess I was to dense for him to make his point the easy way. Of course, after a few months of these antics, the bowl had to be tossed out, alas, it was so full of fang holes that it looked like Swiss Cheese.

Upon the addition of a new bowl, he changed his antics, and now if they are almost empty, he just throws them onto the diningroom floor, remaining food and all. He then leaves the bowl in the middle of the floor, in the middle of the night, so he can be sure you will trip on it, and be obligated to fill it.

He also astounded us by outsmarting our resident bully. Mr. Whiskers has been in charge around here for five years, until Machi moved in that is. This little fellow just refused to be intimidated by anyone. The fist instance occured at the waterbowl in the kitchen. Mr. Whiskers was getting a drink when Machi decided he was also thirsty, he approached the bowl and Mr. Whiskers hissed at him. Well, Machi, still being tiny at the time, just strolled right under the much larger cat and went on to get his drink. The big bully ended up being the one to freak out and run. Guess he didn't know how to handle someone who just didn't care in the least about his attitude, or seniority.

Machi still won't let Mr. Whiskers bother him, when he cops an attitude, Machi just stares at him, then slowly starts circling around the older, and larger cat. Drawing every closer and closer. He won't hiss, swat, or growl, just stare, and slowly diminish his circle. It never fails that Mr. Whiskers gets freaked out and runs off to hide.

On night when he was approximately seven months old, Machi came into our room, hopped on our bed and meowed at us. We tried to figure out what he wanted, but it remained a mystery until my husband pulled aside the bedclothes and found one of his toy mice. He made sure that Machi saw it in his hand and then tossed it out the door so he could go play. Surprise! This turned out to be a fun game, so Machi brought the mouse back to be thrown again. We ended up playing fetch with a toy mouse that night for nearly an hour, and ever since, this has become one of his favorite games.

Now, I am sure he thought he was really entertaining us silly people, and this was fine with us, until the evening he caught a real mouse. Yep, you got it, he tried to bring the bloody corpse into our bed so we could play fetch with it. He just couldn't understand why we didn't want his new prize toy in our bed. I finally had to pick the thing up and take it outside to the garbage to end the problem.

There are many other escapades where he has shown off his intelligence, including learning what the television remote is for, and not being shy about using it when he doesn't like what we are watching, or leaving small toys in our shoes, because he enjoys the reaction when we have to pull them back off to figure out why they suddently don't fit right but none astounded me as much as my most recent discovery.

If I hadn't witnessed this one for myself, I would never have believed it in a million years. It started over the winter, I would find the house getting chilly for no apparent reason, and at other times heating up like we lived at the equator. I wasn't sure what was going on, for quite awhile, I just assumed my husband had adjusted the thermostat for some reason, I set it to a comfortable temperature and thought nothing of it. Then one day, after my husband had left for school, and I found myself freezing, I called him on his lunch break to ask why he had to mess with the silly thing, when he knew he was leaving the house soon. He denied having touched it. So, I thought maybe our son had done it.

When he returned from school that afternoon, I asked him about it. He denied touching it as well. Being a ten-year old, he of course hates to get in trouble, so I must admit, I just assumed he was denying to cover his butt. When it happend on weekends, after company had left, I just assumed one of them had done it, I would reset it and forget about it. That is, until one day, when I knew for a fact that I had just done fixed it that very morning and no one else was home, and suddenly, I felt like a turkey basting in the oven. At this point, I was very perplexed. Was something really wrong with the thing? Did we have a ghost who had its own ideas of the most comfortable temperature?

Then, one day, I was having a lot of pain from my back problems, so I had taken some pills and hit the bed for a nap. I woke up to go to the bathroom and when I was walking through the diningroom, what did I see? Why, a Machi, of course, balancing atop a door we had leaning against the wall, stretching up as tall as he could, and moving the thermostat. I quietly watched to see what he was doing, if it was just something interesting to play with, or if he had really figured out what its purpose was. I watched as he slowly slid it to the right, a higher temp, he paused after sliding it a little, cocked an ear and when he heard the furnace turn on, he jumped down, and ran into the kitchen. I then found him in the bathroom, laying on the heat vent, getting ready for a nap. He certainly had figured it what it did.

Another time, after sleeping on the heat vent for awhile, I am assuming he woke up a little too warm. I watched his balancing act again, but this time, he moved the dial to the left, a lower temp. As before, he moved it a little, cocked an ear to listen closely, and when he heard the furnace shut off, he was satisfied and jumped down to continue on with his day.

You can of course see where this new skill can be a problem, he has fur, Sometimes when he is warm, we aren't. Sometimes when he is cold, perhaps from sleeping near a drafty window, or door, we aren't. But you know what? He is just so darned cute, that we have never had the heart to move that door to a new spot!

Verleen Wonderly is a published freelance writer. She has worked for the website since it's inception in 1999.

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