Fields is filling in for Fritz this Monday.
It’s 4 a.m., and 11 pounds of furry feline energy has woken me up. Again.
This nightly ritual begins with light, trilled meows. Cute enough. Then a few scratches upon the brand new memory foam mattress that I paid through the teeth for; when I handed the nice man at the mattress store my money, the only thing that held me back from dry-heaving over grand total was my daydream of a better night’s sleep.
Now the cat’s working out on my daydream, and I’m wide awake.
Ignore the cat, I tell myself. Be silent. No reaction, positive or negative.
I’m attempting, at 4 a.m., to harness and employ some cat-guardian knowledge I learned on television. When we adopted this kitty, we started watching (former Boulderite) Jackson Galaxy’s “My Cat from Hell.” Now, exhausted by the 4 a.m. wake-up meows, we’d gone to the cat behaviorist’s website for help with sleeping through the night. His advice for middle-of-the-night mews and paws was not to reward the attention-seeking behavior.
The cat has always woken at about this time, but now he wants me to get up even more than usual because he’s hungry. He’s hungry because ever since the new, much hungrier cat entered our lives, he hasn’t had food out that he can snack on at 4 a.m. She eats it all. By “all” I mean that she woofs down her food like a bear just out of hibernation, and then goes after the other cat’s food (without human intervention). Also, she has stolen the following off of my own plate: bread, peanut butter (much licking of the lips, then back for more), salad greens, granola, kale. She shuns coffee, but licks the tops of beer and wine bottles. She comes running every time I open the pantry door, just in case.
She is, in short, a velociraptor. Who weighs eight pounds and will purr if you put her on your shoulder and scratch her chin. (Soooooo sweet.)
These two cats have lived together for only a couple of months, but they’re getting along great. They groom each other, they wrestle and chase, they’ve even started to snuggle up together for naps. It’s squeal-inducing adorable, and now that my daydream for a better night’s sleep is out the door, my new dream is that the two will sleep wound together like a kitty yin-yang. But due to small cat’s thieving ways, big cat doesn’t get to free-feed any more, and he’s too polite to jump in on a huge bowl of kibble, freshly released from an automatic feeder — small cat owns that thing. Because we tried that, too, and then moved on to Jackson’s advice, non-acknowledgement.
By 4:15 a.m., big cat is walking across our heads. He’s giving any exposed limb a nibble and a shake. The bedroom is hot, but I pull my arms and shoulders under the covers, anyway — they’re bait. I sweat, and I squnint my eyes closed. I can’t get up to feed them, because if I do, not only will I be violating Jackson’s rules — ignore, and do this for two weeks, they’ll learn! — I’ll have another problem. If I feed them, by 4:30 they’ll be chasing each other, thunder through the house, which will also keep me up.
At 4:28 a.m., small cat gets in on the game. She’s on the bed with a big meow that goes up at the end like a question: “Food?” She also walks over our heads. More meows: “Food?” One meow punctuated with an “ack-ack-ack” sounds distinctly to my sleepy ears like “snack-snack-snack.”
4:39: Small cat disappears, but big cat sits on my pillow and pulls the best tricks out of his bag: he dives his paws under the covers at me, then takes a lock of my hair between his teeth and pulls.
4:41: I scoop food into their bowls.
4:42: I shoo small cat away from big cat’s bowl while he tries to eat.
4:45: I wonder whether it’s time to send a video of our kitties to “My Cat from Hell.”