Friday, March 30, 2007

Cats and Entropy

I've noticed a definite progression. Or, actually, two alternate progressions. They are:
Small things=>cat toys=>basement corners
Small things=>cat toys=>air return ducts
This observation is incontrovertible. It's even supported by physics, in that cats are an acknowledged entropic energy transfer system. They move things around, but it's almost always from a state of higher energy (like, say, "upstairs" or "on the countertop") to a state of lower energy ("the basement" or "the floor"). Occasionally a cat may move something (like, say, "my wife") from a state of lower energy ("sleeping") to a state of higher energy ("bounding awake with a screech"), but this is thankfully a rarity.

Our cat Emmett has been chasing things downstairs since she came inside; any time we can't find something small and round (a roll of surgical tape, a 1/4" stereo plug, plumbing parts, or whatever), we look on the floor in the basement. The most recent iteration of this has been the 3-D tic-tac-toe game I got for Christmas three years ago. The playing pieces consist of smallish wooden X shapes and similarly-sized wooden balls, drilled with holes to fit over the pegs on the game board. Emmett has figured out how to flip the pieces off of the pegs; the Xs stay on the floor, but she has much fun chasing the O's around. They eventually work their way to the stairs, which she chases them down. And from there they end up in the air-return duct in the entryway or even all the way down the steps into the basement. All the game pieces disappear over the course of two weeks or so, at which time I round them up from their hiding places and play a few rounds of the game. So far I've only lost one piece; I can't tell if it disappeared into the furnace or if it's in some cranny in the basement. I'm sure it'll turn up in our next intensive round of housecleaning, sometime in 2009.

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