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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Stair Down

A herd of buffalo live in my house.

Or may it's a dozen third-grade boys.

Poltergeists with bowling balls?

What I have is kittens. Though at just over a year, they're technically cats. Whatever the label, they have a combined weight of perhaps a dozen pounds. Which means there is no way I can explain the amount of thumping, crashing and thundering that occurs when Elsa Clair and Calvin play their favorite game, Chase on the Stairs.

If you live in a multi-level house with feline roommates, you may be familiar with this game. There are as many variations as there are shades of cat.

The game often begins with Someone peering down from the top of the stairs at Someone Else. That's the fun part about stairs: the staring from on high.

Calvin and Elsa Clair: the stair down.

The stair stares continue. Tension builds. An ear flicks. A whisker twitches.

The Stair Stare

Then Someone pops...and the Chase is on. China rattles. The dogs wake up. I get up from my morning coffee to investigate, expecting to see hordes of cats pouring down the staircase. Instead, I'm greeted with two tiny faces attached to small kitten bodies that are sitting calmly on the bottom step. They peer at me. "Kittens? Running? Nope, haven't seen any."

Fun on the stairs.

There must be a law of physics that can account for the huge sound of two kittens racing up and down a staircase. I know that f = m x a (Force equals Mass times Acceleration, for those who don't remember the formula from science class), but maybe there's a scientist somewhere who is working madly in his cramped lab on the top floor of Victorian home developing m x a x (2+ S) = Ch (Mass times Acceleration times 2 Kittens on the Stairs = Chaos).

Each step in our main staircase has a lip on it (technically called decorative nosing; I looked it up), which makes it perfect for Sneaking. Elsa Clair, who is the tinier of the two kittens, hides just under the nosing (See? I found a way to use my new word). At the top, Calvin will know, just KNOW she's there, but will be unable to see her from his vantage point. He also knows that, even though his sister is small, she packs a pretty good left hook, more daunting because of it's sharp and pointy edges.

Elsa Clair Sneaking

Calvin will take up a post at the top. He'll suddenly remember he hasn't cleaned his forehead.  Elsa Clair is patient, patient. The tip of her tail curls slightly to the right. Then the left. Stops. Calvin finishes his forehead and moves onto an ear. He gets distracted by an imaginary bug and looks up at the ceiling. Finally, he reaches a tentative paw over the edge of the step, followed slowly by another. Front half of cat on the first step, back half still moored to the floor. It seems safe. A cautious descent begins. From below, a tiny black ear tip moves; before Calvin can react, Elsa Clair charges up the stairs.

And the chase begins again.

The Chase!

Even with only one cat, stairs are fun. Calvin likes to roll on his back and claw his way up stair by stair, upside down.

Calvin ready to roll and rock.

Elsa Clair loves to peer through the balusters (another new word) and swat at people as they walk by.

Cuteness with pointy edges.

Living with cats, one might begin to think that the sole purpose of stairs is to provide amusement for kittens.

But then again, isn't that the main purpose of nearly anything?

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