Goodness! You frightened me to death when you mentioned things were out of control and you felt you were careening toward the abyss. For a heart-stopping moment, I was sure you were going to do battle on my behalf with the Wicked Weedwacker. I don't deny it would have been a nice, romantic, heroic gesture on your part, but as it turns out you had other things on your mind - namely that Magic creature. What could your mommy have been thinking? Perchance, does she have any substance-abuse issues? I'm just wondering.
I was in exactly the same position with that dreadful Stealth creature. He lived outside, too. In fact, he lived in a tree right next to the garage. If I looked out the window in my office, I could see that darn cat up in the tree grinning down at me. As a writer, I'm always looking for unusual characters to populate my literary landscapes, but then I feared a crazed cat grinning out of a tree was just not a credible, sympathetic character.
So imagine my surprise when Mommy informed Honey and me just the other day that Stealth was going to become an indoor cat. Like you, I don't know what prompted that move.
From what I can discern, there are only two approaches to this pesky problem. The first, and for moi the most direct, technique is what I refer to as the rip-the-welcome-mat-from-under-their-paws approach. Yes, it's harsh. Yes, it's tough love. Yes, it's effective. Basically, you must make the interloper feel unwelcome, unwanted, and unloved. Tell him at every opportunity what a poor excuse for a feline he is: untalented, stupid, and ugly. Keep reinforcing the notion of how unworthy and unhappy he is. Keep reminding him of the pleasures of the great outdoors, of all the catly activities he will be giving up. Withholding food and water is another technique that often works. Let's say the interloper has found a place within the house to call his own. (I am assuming of course that you would have removed all pillows, blankets, etc., and claimed them for yourself.) So let's say that all that remains for the interloper is a potted plant. He squeezes his pathetic little body around the petunia. When he gets up, you put nails in the soil. See how comfortable he is then!
You must understand, of course, that I have never resorted to such severe actions, but I have heard of interlopers fleeing from the house, wanting more than anything to be outdoor cats again. And think what a favor you would be doing if you helped this Magic thing regain his freedom. I've always believed Stealth was much happier in that lousy tree. Now that he's in the house, I don't see him grinning anymore.
I should warn you, however, that your mommy might misinterpret your actions and blame you for running the cat out of town on a rail. Mommies always take the side of the undercat, and I guarantee you she'll accuse you of being a bully and a lousy host to boot. Who needs that?
So perhaps a better approach might be - just to keep your mommy's hormones in check - what I call the buddy system. In a show of magnanimous generosity, you offer to help the cat from the moment it crosses the threshold. You teach him the rules of the house. In other words, YOUR rules. Of course he's welcome to eat exactly the same food you eat. AFTER YOU HAVE FINISHED, OF COURSE. He can claim a comfy spot AS LONG AS IT ISN'T YOUR FAVORITE HIDEY HOLE. And you must caution him to keep his grubby little paws off your catnip toys. Gently explain that catnip is a controlled, addictive substance, and you certainly don't want him traveling down the "dark and twisty road" you've been traveling.
Besides getting the interloper to conform to your rules, your mommy will love you for your generous spirit and might give you some extra lap time or a special treat.
I know it's a pain, but until you can either push him through the door or convince your mommy that he is singlepawedly destroying the house and putting the other critters in danger, I fear this is how you must proceed.
Feeling your pain,
Copyright 2000 by Virginia L. Browne and Linda Hamner
From LETTERS FROM CLEO AND TYRONE
By Virginia L. Browne and Linda Hamner
Reprinted by permission of St. Martin's Press, LLC