Laptops and Kittens….

I mentioned the other day that we have four cats currently.  Three of them are 18 month old kittens (ok, at 18 months, they're not kittens anymore, but we still refer to them as "the kittens").

A while ago, one of them (Aphus, we believe) discovered that if they batted at Valorie's laptop, they could remove the keys from the laptop, and the laptop keys made great "chase" toys.  Valorie has taken to locking her laptop up in a tiny computer nook upstairs as a result, but even with that, they somehow made off with her "L" key.  We've not been able to find it even after six months of looking.  To get her computer up and running, we replaced the "L" key with the "windows" key. Fortunately she's a touch typist, and thus never looks at her keyboard - when she does, she freaks out.

Last night, I left a build running on my laptop when I went to bed.  Valorie mentioned that it would probably be a bad idea to do this, since the kittens were on the loose.

Since I couldn't close the laptop without shutting down the build, I hit on what I thought was a great solution.  I put the laptop in two plastic bags, one on each side of the laptop (sorry about the mess on the table :)):

I went to bed confident that I'd outsmarted the kittens.  My laptop would remain safe.

Well, this morning, I got up, and went downstairs (you can see Sharron's breakfast cereal on the table to the top right).  I asked the kids if there had been any problems, and Daniel, with his almost-teenager attitude said "Yeah, the kittens scattered the keys on your laptop all over the kitchen".

I  figured he was just twitting me, until I went to check on the computer...

Oh crud...

There were the keys, sitting in a pile where Sharron had collected them...

I love my cats, I really do...

The good news is that I managed to find all the keys, although I was worried about the F8 key for a while.

Comments (37)

  1. Anonymous says:

    Replacement keyboards for dell laptops are pretty cheap and are easy to replace. If it’s anything like mine it’s only 4 screws. You might not need it now, but it might be a good idea to get a spare.

  2. Anonymous says:


    Your cats have a real destructive streak. I thought my cat was bad when he would dig at the corners of the room and rip up the carpet. I can safely say they have not discovered this "feature" of my notebook.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Out of interest, why would closing the lid stop the build? I frequently leave things running overnight on my Inspiron with the lid closed without a problem.

    Maybe you could scavenge a dead laptop to use as a decoy… *grin*

  4. Anonymous says:

    Ben, the laptop’s configured to suspend if the shell is closed (since that’s the 99% case).

    If it was docked in a docking station that wouldn’t happen, but I don’t have a docking station for the laptop (and don’t really need one either)

  5. Anonymous says:

    That is bizaar! Did you tie up the 2 bags before you went to bed? Maybe it’s the smell of the plastic that is attracting them to the laptops.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Nah, it wasn’t the bags – it was the laptop.

    Never underestimate the intellegence of a cat.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Oops. I was referring to the plastic casing of the laptop.

  8. Anonymous says:

    How about posting some pics of the little hell spawn demons? 🙂

  9. Anonymous says:

    It seems like the simplest solution would be to declaw them. Or are these cats able to pry out keys without claws? If so, your only hope is to bow to your cats and beg for their favor.

  10. Anonymous says:

    But you can change default action when lid is closed – in "Power options->Advanced" tab, at least in XP … unless it’s hardware brand-related issue 🙂

  11. Anonymous says:

    Larry: Ah, right; I reckon in my case I only want it to suspend ~ 75% of the time, if that, so I’ve got used to changing that setting every so often or just suspending it by hand.

  12. Anonymous says:

    If you wake the cats up when they try and sleep during the day they will sleep at night.

  13. Anonymous says:

    From the picture, it looks like the keys are close enough together that sharp nails would be required to get them off of the computer.

    Perhaps you should cut their nails?

  14. Anonymous says:

    Absolutely! My cat managed to open our bedroom door in the middle of the night, and I’m not talking about pushing it open. She jumped up to almost human-shoulder height and pulled down the lever-shaped doorhandle… she was less than three months old at the time.

    Since then, she has also managed to open a round-handled door (but the handle was much lower, so she could reach it from a chair). When she wants to be in a room, the only way to stop her getting in is to make a barricade.

  15. Anonymous says:

    <br>I came to the same question as Ben — and do it often enough so that I can change what happens when the lid is closed pretty quickly depending on the current need. (probably quicker than finding a plastic bag 😉

  16. Anonymous says:

    Todd, their nails ARE trimmed. It doesn’t matter – I can pry them off with my fingers (short nails) so can they.

    David: They usually do sleep at night. But apparently it didn’t work….

    Andry: Yes, I can change the power setting mode, but it was really late.

    Arno: let me see what I can dig up.

    Jared: Could be – I figured that the plastic bag noise would deter them but apparently not.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Oh, and they’re not going to be declawed. That’s inhumane (IMHO, I know others feel differently)

  18. Anonymous says:

    When I want to suspend a machine, it doesn’t seem too hard to click start to shutdown and then select hibernation instead of shutdown. I frequently do close a laptop if I’m going to be away from it, so that a cat can’t crawl onto the keyboard. I’ve also set a control power option for the power switch to have no effect, because on one or two machines where the slider to open the laptop looks like the slider to turn off power, too often I was accidentally putting the machine into hibernation instead of opening it (fortunately I’d previously set the power switch to hibernate instead of shutdown).

    If leaving a build running overnight, I further turn the closed laptop upside down so that heat can escape from the vents.

    One problem is still that a cat occasionally bites a power cable. Had to solder one to fix it, and it still looks ugly.

    My cats have been deterred by plastic bag noise if and only if the noise was caused by a being other than the cats. Somehow they recognized when it was themselves breaking into a plastic bag. Besides, I would not want to bag up a laptop when it’s in maximum heat generating mode.

    Hibernation and standby have a new problem. When awakening a laptop, the on-board Ethernet adapter goes into a state where it’s trying to acquire an IP address from a DHCP server, so it loses network access. There is no DHCP server and the network adapter has a fixed IP address, but it seems that a recent Windows XP security patch has taught Windows XP to ignore such settings when resuming. I have to go into network properties, set the network adapter to disabled and set it back to enabled, and it starts working. Cats are glad that I don’t blame them for this.

  19. Anonymous says:

    By the way how can there be 3 photos showing a total of 0 kittens? That just does not seem possible.

  20. Anonymous says:

    I should have known Larry Osterfoon would have a weblog somewhere…. of course I have to hear about it from some random person!

    Anyway. Thank goodness none of my cats ever liked to eat computers. Fred [remember Fred?] liked to sit on my hands while I was typing, but she was the worst.

    Smooches to you & Val. [& the not-so-ruggy-rugrats.]

  21. Anonymous says:

    Hey, it’s the Esther Bunny!!!!! WOW!

    Absolutely, Osterfoon’s got a blog… And I even mentioned it on a ghosts of abtech post somewhere. One of these days, I’ll write up the clash concert story too 🙂

  22. Anonymous says:

    XP has a frabulous way of changing the action (and you can see power levels any time!), just tell power management to put an icon on the tray, hide the icon (I hate lots of icons), and left click it when you need to change the scheme. I only ever mouse over it to check power though.

    Of course, for a once-a-month-if-that event, probably too much trouble.

    On the other hand, this way you can tell all your friends you lost your laptop case and had to improvise. Just double-bag if it’s heavy. 😉

    I wish I had mike & ikes right now. >_>

  23. Anonymous says:

    Actually, I’ve caught Aphus in action. He uses his teeth to pry them off, not his claws. He’s actually quite good and delicate about it. And determined, mustn’t forget determined. He didn’t move when I clapped at him from across the room, and didn’t move as I got closer. He moved only when my arms were around him and lifting him off my computer.

    Yeah, I like them, but I’m still waiting for my "l" key to reappear 🙂

  24. Anonymous says:

    Oh, foxishadis, the problem with changng the power management in my case is LUA – you can’t change the power management when running as a non admin 🙁 It stinks and the relevent people have been told…

    And I was too tired to do the makemeadmin.cmd trick.

  25. Anonymous says:

    > Maybe it’s the smell of the plastic that is

    > attracting them to the laptops.


    One of my cats actually has an odd attraction to photo albums. Never did any damage, but he acted a bit strange. I never could figure out if it was the inks from the printer (digital camera – paper prints) The sticky substance to hold the pictures in place, or the plastic cover that went over the pictures.

    > My cats have been deterred by plastic bag noise

    > if and only if the noise was caused by a being

    > other than the cats.

    I have to hide all plastic bags in my house.. 🙂 If one of my cats (I have 2, will be 3 in June…) discovers a loose plastic bag, they’ll rattle it all night.

  26. Anonymous says:

    To spawn an Admin Explorer:

    C:WINDOWSsystem32runas.exe /profile /user:(Computername)Administrator "C:Program FilesInternet Exploreriexplore -new C:"

    Change (Computername) to the name of your PC. This will launch Internet Explorer as Administrator pointed to C: (which forces it to look at Folders, you can’t use runas with Explorer.exe so you have to "trick" IE to do this for you). You can then point it to the Control Panel and change the power settings.

    Changing the admin power settings will trump the current limited account settings. I do this all the time (even though it’s an extremely painful process).

    Missing "L" key? Check the liter box. Wouldn’t be surprised if it’s passin’ through one of em now. Highly unlikely chance of this happening but I’ve heard of worse.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Reminds me of how we used to have little bells all around the Christmas tree and tray of turkey when I was younger, to stop our cat from playing with it all. The bells worked. At least until my aunt brought another kitten to the house. At 07.00 it just jumped into the middle of the tree, crashing it to the ground. Our cat was terrified, the kitten didn’t even look embarrased.

    Anyway, shame on you for writing this. My fiance is telling me this is another reason for not having a cat. 😐

  28. Anonymous says:

    1/20/2005 10:46 PM The Wife

    > still waiting for my "l" key to reappear 🙂

    Oh no. Now even cat lovers have to say it:

    The L with your cat.

    1/21/2005 4:34 AM Mike Raiford

    > If one of my cats […] discovers a loose

    > plastic bag, they’ll rattle it all night.

    Because they think that if they get the bag open they’ll find cat food inside.

    1/22/2005 10:55 AM Kaisa M. Lindahl

    > The bells worked.

    Our cat played with a bell all night until she hid it somewhere where neither she nor we could find it.

  29. Anonymous says:

    I’ve seen comercially available software to prevent cats from walking on keyboards. (Looks up site…) It’s called Pawsense ( and it uses pattern recognition to detect cats on your keyboard, and can be set up to ‘train’ them not to step on (or presumably play with) the keyboard. Not sure how it works, our cat died before I got around to buying the software!

  30. Anonymous says:


    Unfortunatly, I don’t think it works catching them chewing the keys off the keyboard..

  31. Anonymous says:

    Muggsie sometimes wakes me up by putting a claw just through my skin on my nose, not enpough to bleed just enough to wake me (if whinging failed then jumping on me also failed). It’s a great way to wake up with a claw embedded and flexing in one’s nose 1" from one’s eyes.

  32. Anonymous says:

    my cat looks like she is pregnant. She is a stray, and always looking forward to getting outside. Since cats get killed a lot and I live in the city we don’t let her out. When she was in heat, male cats (about ten) were prowling around our backyard. One day she got out. My Dad found our cat and a male cat just staring looking like they didn’t do anything. Now, everytime we get a box or something like that, she lays in it. She is getting fatter. She is cleaning herself a lot more. I’m worried she is hardly getting out of kitten stages. AT least I think. I think she might hurt herself trying to . Ps we can’t keep the kittens We dont’ know should we give them to a shelter or should we give them away?

  33. Anonymous says:

    Hi, sorry this won’t help much but i think my cat is pregnnt too. She is a stray as well and has been getting fatter and her nipples are very exposed. Is this the same as your cat? if so i think she may be preggas. i am just searching now to c if i can find da answer, so if i do i will give ya a shout.

    Always Reixoxox

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