Patches, my calico cat, had developed a terrible habit: Getting up on stuff.

I am pretty permissive with Patches. I mean, it runs in my family. This old house of mine is famous for off-beat pets ruling the premises. My grandmother had many of them. There was Crazy Cat, a long-haired beauty, probably Persian or part-so, anyway. Crazy Cat was aptly named, in that she liked to get into the top square of the stairway banister and hang over backwards, looking out over the living room upside-down. She climbed the draperies. Her favorite game was to go outside and play with the mockingbirds, who would dive-bomb her or make kamikaze runs at her. She nailed a few of them, too.

Or there was Angie, a gray poodle who wouldnít let anyone near her, or my grandmother. Angie had her own brass bed about two feet wide. There were many more.

I let Patches on stuff I probably shouldnít, but awhile back she had taken to getting on the kitchen counters and table and bar. This, of course, is a definite no-no. When Iíd see her, Iíd give a good loud yell, which would startle her so badly I wouldnít see her for a day or two. I thought about using a water gun, but then Iíd have to clean up big wet messes every time.

But Patches is too smart. Realizing that a) I do not want her on the counters, and b) If she gets on the counters she gets the dickens scared out of her by my big mouth, she therefore did algebra on my behalf:

If a+b=s (shouted at)

Then a+b-lfb (Loud Fat Boy) = gawi (Get Away With It)

All of which reasons out in her little calico brain that, if I ainít home, she ainít worried about it because I ainít there to holler at her. So Iíd come home and thereíd be kitty paw prints. I was constantly wiping things down.

Or Iíd be watching television at night, or drinking my coffee in the morning, and Iíd hear ka-plunk from the kitchen, the unmistakable sound of a small cat jumping down from something. What do you do then? Itís too late to fuss, sheís already down. Far as she knows, youíre fussing at her for getting down, right? But then, if sheís so smart as I think she is, wouldnít she figure it out?

Itís a mysterious quandary, I tell you.

I was at a loss. How to I stop her if sheís too smart to do it when Iím watching? I concocted all kinds of Wile E. Coyote inventions in my mind. My favorite was a conglomeration consisting of a security light motion detector that, instead of triggering a light, would send a signal to a horn from an ocean liner Ė appropriately marked ACME, of course Ė scaring the daylights out of her every time she got on something. However, I was afraid this might not only shatter the windows, but send the whole Rez into a panic thinking the Queen Mary was coming up Bayou Teche loaded with Cavalry soldiers.

I consulted the Internet and found that catís donít like certain things under the feet: Double-sided tape, those kind of welcome mats that you wipe your feet on with little pegs and aluminum foil.

Well, I didnít think I wanted to put tape all over the place, nor did I want to buy a bunch of pegged door mats, so I opted for the aluminum foil. One report I read on the ĎNet said when catsí pads and claws touch aluminum foil itís like when we bite down on a piece of aluminum foil that accidentally got stuck to our food when we baked it. Just reading that sent me into convulsions of revulsion so severe I had to take a tranquilizer.

So the kitchen table, counters and bar are now covered with aluminum foil, and have been for three weeks. When the sun comes through the kitchen window late evenings, you could sun tan in there.

The first few days I noticed kitty paw prints, but then they stopped. The folks who advised the use of aluminum foil said it has to stay up there for about a month before they give up, cats being so stubborn and all. So I got a week to go, maybe Iíll leave it for two just to be sure.

Folks come in the house and I donít think about it. Iím used to it now. But I get somebody over and they kinda furrow their eyebrows and grumble before making a hasty exit from the crazy manís house, or if itís late in the day, reach for their sunglasses.

Patches has no comment on the matter, and while I canít be sure sheís not getting up there anymore, I donít see the prints. I donít hear the incriminating ka-plunk from the kitchen anymore, so I think I may have succeeded.

If, after I remove it all, and she starts back in with said behavior, Iíll have to resort to another Wile E. Coyote scheme. I have one Iím thinking of involving rope, a cannon, a box fan and a pogo stick.