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Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency Year Eight: Case File No. 03-367

Oliver in a new box quite comfortable curled up but looking at the camera

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Where We Left Off:

The cat detectives had to investigate the serial attacks on the garden gnomes.

The Adventure of the Cardboard Box:

Perhaps by now, you’ve heard about Galena, an absolutely stunning calico from Utah who is more than her good looks; she’s one hell of a survivor. Galena, like most cats, loves boxes. In April, Galena found a box she found suitable that her human had already placed items in to be returned to Amazon. He somehow didn’t notice anything unusual when he got around to sealing the box and shipping it 650 miles away. The short version is Galena was found by a friendly worker who loves cats and knew exactly how to handle the situation. It’s a story that’s been covered internationally.

Oliver in a new box quite comfortable curled up but awake to test it out.

You can probably guess that Oliver Winchester is one of the biggest lovers of boxes too. He also loves baskets and stealing any chair that a human expects to use. Together, he and Gus have a telepathic sense of where to get comfortable to make the humans the most inconvenienced. I don’t know if there’s a name for this particular set of super human skills, but both of them have it.

The Winchester-Nabu cats are supposed to be losing weight per doctor’s orders just like two of the humans. It would be more convenient if we could all make one big family trip and see the same medical team. Gus was prescribed expensive food for his diarrhea, but the food has the unfortunate side effect of being a gravy-based carb-heavy food that has made him put on the pounds. Oliver, on the other hand, should be eating wet food, but he only wants it on random occasions that none of us can predict.

I tried training Gus on those “talking buttons” before trying it with Ollie, so he could tell me what he wants. Gus isn’t strong enough to press the buttons down. He understood the idea and got to the point of tapping a button, but we never progressed and put the buttons back in the box. If Ollie could have been trained on them to have “wet food” and “crunchies now” buttons, a) we’d be hearing them all day and night; and b) it would be helpful to know when he’s in mood for the expensive Rx canned food.

Despite his size, Oliver has the Houdini talent that defy physics as do millions of cats out there in the world with the mantra, “If I fits, I sits.” I discovered that besides the plethora of cat images on the internet, some creative people have capitalized on this physics phenomenon by creating books, fabric, shirts, and other art work on the subject. One of our personal favorites is The Queen, @missenell, who has a wonderful feed all year long with her servant Gilbert and Princess Nala. As loyal fans, we do have their shirts.

Cats are Liquid meme; fluffy white cat in a bowl; "Liquids take the shape of the container while maintaining a constant volume." That's it. So cats are liquid.

What Went Wrong with This Boxed Shipment?

Gus received his monthly shipment of expensive prescription food. I went to open a fresh can and it was strange. I knew right away something didn’t seem right. The can felt too light. Inside, there was only a fraction of the amount of food in there. I knew it was probably a quality control error and that there was a machine probably meant to weigh cans (or a line of humans that check them at random). Nonetheless, I threw out that can.

black cat Gus climbing up the stoop to sniff a delivery box; "A mail delivery!"

Later on, The Cook went to feed Gus and she picked up another can that was clearly much lighter than she expected too. She didn’t open it, but told me. She set aside that can aside for further analysis with The Butler since he’s in charge of the special diet deliveries.

Do you remember that scene in Knives Out when Detective Blanc is explaining the big reveal? (Spoilers) He talked about a medication mix-up and another vial going missing. Marta reaches out and handles the vials on the table, but she does something barely perceptible. The camera is zoomed in on her hand reaching for the vials so the audience clearly knows it’s important.

In Blanc’s speech, he uses the language: “almost imperceptible differences of tensor and viscosity between the two liquids.”

It this same knowledge of experience that The Cook and I had from repeatedly taking the cans one at a time to feed Gus that our brains registered what those full cans should feel like. It’s how we knew there was something wrong with the cans of cat food!

As Blanc said, “You knew because you’d done it a hundred times…”

Oliver immediately demanded our attention in the kitchen. The food arrives in distinct boxes branded with the store’s name on the outside. The address label appeared to be unremarkable—no one had disturbed the destination address or Guster’s full name. Inside the shipping box, there are two canned food cases in smaller cardboard packaging—like a half of a box only for easier carrying—and those are wrapped in a heavy-duty clear plastic.

Oliver on a cushion on a chair photoshopped against a neat and orderly office with a wall of bookshelves

Oliver revealed, “For anyone to have tampered with the cans of food, it had to have been done directly at the canning factory. This is not someone lurking directly around Gus. This is a remote perpetrator—or purely accidental through missteps in the Quality Control department.”

Gus climbed to the cat tree and waited for The Grumpy Old Man to notice him. As soon as Gus is up the cat tree, he usually gets junk food treats from the elder human. This was no different. Gus was given four small square treats. He reached up one “trunk” of the sisal rope structure to stretch before taking a tall, attentive seat on a carpeted platform.

Gus looked down and said, “You’re saying it could not have been one of the strays that continuously come through our domain?”

“That’s correct,” Oliver said. 

Did he just use a southern slightly Cajun accent?

Case Findings:

Oliver rang his Butler and reported that the cat food cans were a manufacturing error. No one was trying to poison Gus nor intentionally steal his rations. I took the one suspicious can that felt too light to be full of food and weighed it against another using The Butler’s food scale. Indeed there was a difference. The normal can weighed 88.7 gram while the other can weighed a mere 22 grams. The Butler immediately contacted the store and there was a replacement of more than the nearly empty cans. They sent Gus two entire cases.

When the new shipment arrived, Oliver had another box to test. He deemed the box was worthy of keeping, but since we had more than a few boxes, it would be recycled.

Case Status: Closed

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