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Monday, April 10, 2006

Why They're Not Called "Catpads"

Our cat, Alexi, has always been really interested in the computer -- even as a kitten. Well, if not the computer itself, then the act of interfering with our USE of the computer.

Most of the time he'll perch up on the back of my chair as I work or keep my lap warm in winter, but once in a while he just HAS to get on the desk and wend his way around my mouse and keyboard and, ultimately, block my view of the screen.

Today I'd had enough and said, "Look cat, if you want to work on the computer, let's work on the computer" and I took his paw to my laptop's trackpad and tried to make the mouse cursor move on screen. To my amazement it didn't work.

Without getting too technical, a trackpad works -- not by pressure or heat -- but by "electrical capacitance." Essentially there's a grid of wires that pass a charge through your finger so that when your finger passes over them, it can measure where on the grid your finger is located and transfer that information to the computer. That's the gist anyway.

But Alexi's paw didn't allow for this to happen!

Now, because the trackpad relies on this current to be able to pass through your finger, it won't work if you have gloves on or try to use a pen cap on it. Since Alexi has long hair on his paws, I carefully pushed it aside and made sure his paw pads (toes) touched the pad directly. Still nothing.

By now he was getting quite annoyed with me so I let him down, but my question remains: Why can't a cat use a laptop's trackpad?!?

Of course YOUR question still remains as well: "Just how on earth did I manage to get a cat to even attempt to use a trackpad?"

Well, let's just say I'm glad no one was video taping it.

Now ... where's the Bactine?


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