Cat vs MacBook fight!

Alex Kidman
10 December, 2007
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I have three cats, and one MacBook. You’d think that pure numerical superiority would be enough for the cats to feel confident in their lot — but that’s not entirely the case. Even the fact that the MacBook is only portable where the felines are fully mobile isn’t enough for them. You see, I’ve come to the conclusion that at least one of my cats is — there is no better word — envious of my MacBook.

The other two moggies, for the record, are just fine with the MacBook. Lita is far too interested in either finding sunny spots to lounge around in, or finding food that’s too slow to escape. If she ever found both in one spot, she’d never move again. Harriet is likewise not worried by the Mac, but then again, she’s worried by everything else, being a cat of very little brain — she’s almost dumb enough to be a dog, really.

No, it’s only Guess that has a problem with the MacBook. She’s not named for the Jeans brand, by the way, nor the apparently popular Taiwanese variety show (Wikipedia is an evil thing sometimes). She’s instead named after her propensity to get into trouble, as in “Which cat did/broke/ate/clawed/reversed the polarity of the neutron flow on that?”


Guess, it should also be pointed out, is something of a Daddy’s cat, and I think this is where the main problem lies. She’s jealous of the time I spend with the MacBook on my lap — and not her. So she’s taken up a one-cat war of attrition on the MacBook, centred primarily around deliberately sitting on the keyboard. She’ll do this if I Ieave it for more than about 2.73 seconds, give or take a picosecond.

At first, I figured it was to do with camouflage. The MacBook is white and, for the most part, so is she. Add to that the fact that the MacBook lives downstairs in high-up places (laptops and toddlers make poor playmates), affording her a perch to attack the other cats as is sometimes her wont, and this arrangement might seem to be just too evident. Except that Guess is actually tricolour, and bloody obvious in front of the all-white MacBook. Also, she tends to sit on the MacBook facing directly into a wall. She might be a slightly fey animal, but something tells me that she’s not going to attack a brick wall. That’s Harriet’s job, for a start.

Now, there are some very minor advantages to having a cat sit on your MacBook. For a start, it reminds me to keep it very, very clean, lest she start cleaning it herself. Second, her uncanny ability to activate random keyboard shortcuts has forced me to learn each and every one of them, simply so I can work out how to undo the damage she’s done.

n recent weeks, her efforts to unseat the MacBook have taken a more sinister turn. She’s now taken to sitting on the keyboard in such a way as to activate major program functions. In one instance, I came back to the MacBook, tapped the space bar to bring it back to life, and found myself facing a Mail prompt checking that I really did want to delete all of my mailboxes. I’m sure if she could have flexed a claw in the direction of the enter key, I’d be looking at a blank mailbox right now.

It’s this feline dexterity (and the fact that I find it equally, if not more annoying) that stops me from forcing the MacBook to request my user login when resuming from the screensaver. I’m sure it wouldn’t take her long to brute force my password out using only her hind paws, anyway.

The thing that confounds me is that she’s never been that fussed by previous notebooks I’ve had. I’ve had the MacBook a year now, but its predecessors (which weren’t Apple machines) were mostly ignored entirely. Even larger models that would more comfortably accommodate her furry posterior have been beneath her notice, rather than beneath her bottom. Sure, from time to time, she might walk across them, forming a perfect line of Qs on whatever document I was working on at the time. But never this much.

What I’m not sure of is whether this means that cats are in fact secret Mac fans — you only hurt the ones you love, after all — or secretly in the pay of Messrs Gates, Ballmer et al. Still, I dread to think what she’d do to a Mac Pro. Do you think Apple’s warranty would cover a disembowelled rat on the motherboard? I bet there isn’t a specific clause, but I wouldn’t want to have to test that theory.

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