A Harlingen area cat who was just let in the house five minutes ago, already wants out according to a local man.
"It defies any reasonable explanation", Christopher Baker said of the family's pet cat Mario on Monday. "He'll be sitting out on the back patio meowing away for something like a half hour, then when I finally let him inside he just wants to go back out. I'll never understand that animal."
Baker's wife Adriana was equally perplexed.
"There must be something wrong with him," she offered. "It's something like 102 degrees out and yet it's like he would rather suffer through the heat of the day than stay inside and take advantage of the air conditioning.
"I guess you can't cure stupid," she concluded; the question of the cat's intelligence however, may be misplaced.
Mario, who has owned the Baker family for nearly a year may actually be playing it smart, an area cat expert reports.
Dr. Trisha Gooding, of the local Arroyo Animal Hospital offers her explanation: "After discussing this issue with the Baker's at length, I can say with absolute certainty that Mario is not only a very intelligent feline, but also exhibits heightened survival instincts."
Dr. Gooding's findings were released after almost two weeks of careful on-site study at the Baker's home. During which, Mario's behavior patterns were carefully scrutinized.
"What I found was that the subject would enter the home long enough to cool down, taking refuge under a table or in a remote corner then proceed to the backdoor to be let out again just as the Baker children were being alerted to his presence," Gooding said. "It became apparent to me that the cat was in fact reacting adversely to the children. The question was why."
After an exhaustive review of nearly ninety-six hours of taped interviews and personal observations, Dr. Gooding uncovered that in recent months the Baker children had taken to involving Mario in a frequent event known as "playtime".
On the surface, it seemed that this occurrence may have been fueling Mario's desire to stay as far away from both children as possible.
"I learned that the youngest, Caroline took charge of making sure Mario would watch cartoons with her at every opportunity, against his will if necessary," Dr. Gooding said.
Also noted was the oldest girl, Christine's tendency to "dance" with the cat. A ritual performed as Christine held Mario's two front paws with her hands. She would then proceed to drag him around the living room carpet singing what would later turn out to be selections from the soundtrack of the popular Disney television program, 'Hannah Montana'.
Witnessed attempts at escape were often interpreted as "trying new dance steps", according to the girl's parents. Dr. Gooding rejected outright the children's playtime with Mario as having any negative effect on the cat whatsoever.
"Cat's by nature love to be forcefully held down during episodes of Spongebob and enjoy dancing to the latest pre-teen pop sensations even more so." Gooding said. "As far as I know, every cat wants to experience the same things human children ages five to ten do. It's a simple fact that is supported by no less than fifty years of research."
Gooding hypothesized that the adverse reaction to the children could be something very innocuous but is as of yet, unidentified. "Perhaps its their scent, perhaps the color of their clothes. It's difficult to say for sure at this juncture." Gooding said. "It will most likely take many years and a substantial, concentrated effort by a remarkable number of animal researchers to unravel this mystery."
In the meantime, the Baker family remains less than satisfied. As for Mario's future, "The next time he wants to be let inside the house," Christopher Baker remarked, "I'm just going to ignore him."