How Amber handles toilet crisisLocal | Georgina Noyce 23 Jul 2019
The yowl from one of the cats would have been bloodcurdling if it had woken me from sleep, but in the early evening it was not really worrying. Both cats were inside and the sound was more a triumphant yodel than a distressed call for help.
Interest peaked the closer I got to the bedroom door. Joined now with the occasional yowl was the sound of scrabbling, with a background rattling movement of the closed door. Amber cat was putting her new skill into play - opening a closed door by using the door handle.
Trouble was, Amber, the once-feral cat, was trying to open the door from the wrong side this time. Some months back, we had introduced a couple more scratching posts into Amber's life. She had eventually accepted one of them, but the second had ended up with Jade cat in the bedroom and was being used by our queenly older cat like pole-dancing equipment.
The noise Jade made as she twirled and scratched against the sisal-covered pole attracted Amber's attention. Faced with a closed door, the sneaky cat watched the humans, saw she just needed to pull down on the handle and like magic the door would open and she could get into the room.
So Amber jumped against the door, gripped it with her front paws, used momentum and her weight to pull the handle down, then used the leverage of her body to swing the door open. It soon became a human habit to give the closed door a good tug to make sure that it needed human coordination to open the door, so that Jade could keep her own space.
Clearly someone had been lax and Amber had ended up in Jade's room with the door closed. Pushing against the inward-opening door, I found Amber hanging from the door handle, her hind legs braced as high up toward the door handle as her arthritic body could manage. With a final yowl, Amber let go of the handle, shot between my legs and rushed to the utility room to use her litter tray.
One of the most astonishing behaviors from this rescued cat is that after a month in quarantine in a cage, she will only ever use her own litter box and never the garden. It must have really worried her to be shut away from her private toilet.
Georgina Noyce is an equestrian judge, and has a menagerie of adopted four-legged waifs and strays.