When I bought a house with my boyfriend, he came with two full-grown cats. And I came with a small (but loud, attention seeking) dog.
My dog would never bite, would never growl, would never cause any trouble. But he’s not used to other animals, either. He grew up as an only child. He was never socialized with other pets. So he stays downstairs and the cats stay upstairs.
Whenever the dog notices the cats trying to sneak down the staircase, he bolts over to them, tail wagging, and chases them away on accident. They can’t handle his excitement. He moves too fast. He makes too much noise. They want nothing to do with him.
And that works perfectly fine for me and my boyfriend, because it’s better that the cats stay upstairs. There are too many valuable items in the kitchen and living room that they could smash and shatter. And there are plenty of chemicals and pill bottles they could knock onto the floor for the dog to gulp down. No, it’s better that they stay upstairs.
That’s why it’s so damn annoying that they’ve suddenly decided to sneak downstairs in the middle of the night every night. It’s a new thing. It hasn’t been a problem before. But lately, it’s all they want to do.
We never catch them, of course. They’re cats. They move like ninjas. By the time we roll out of bed to yell at them, they’ve already sped up the stairs and are looking at us with big, innocent eyes like they haven’t done anything wrong.
But whenever we checked the kitchen, without fail, there was a mess. Puddles on the floor from the sink overflowing. Broken glass from a shattered vase. Open cabinets. Toppled chairs.
And my poor pup would be cowering in his bed, head under his blanket, scared to death.
“I don’t understand why the dog isn’t barking at them anymore,” my boyfriend said one night after I finished screaming my lungs out at the cats. They had ripped my favorite painting to shreds. There were claw marks in the paint.
Honestly, I didn’t understand it either. My dog was a light sleeper. He usually woke up whenever he heard the cats. He usually yipped and wagged until they ran away. But he hadn’t made a peep lately.
“Maybe it wasn’t the cats,” my boyfriend said.
I shook my head. “The dog couldn’t have done half of those things. It has to be the cats.”
Baby gates were useless. The cats could leap right over them. So we bought a folding screen too tall for them to jump over and positioned it against the staircase so there was no possible way for them to get downstairs. We even put the dog in a crate for a few nights, just in case he made the mess. (I insisted he would never do such a thing, but it was only fair considering we were punishing the cats so much.)
That night, around three AM, we heard a crash. But both cats were huddled in the corner of our bedroom and the screen was still standing, blocking off the stairs. There was no way the cats had done anything.
I pushed aside the screen and crept into the kitchen. The dog was in his crate, covers pulled over him, terrified. He hadn’t done anything, either.
But the kitchen was a mess. It was worse than any other night. There was a plate shattered on the floor. The fridge door was swung open. The coffee pot was turned on. There were even muddy footprints on the floor.
We checked the doors, but they were bolted. Secure. The windows were locked, too. We even checked our security cameras, but it hadn’t picked up anything. As far as we could tell, no one had broken inside.
I don’t know what the hell had happened that night — or any of the other nights before then. All I know is that I immediately called someone to come and sage the house. And we haven’t heard a peep since.