Friday, September 09, 2005

Things that go "Meow" in the Night

I originally began this post by calling it “The Joys of Being a Cat Owner.” I changed the title of this post because I have had many cats in my life, and I have never once felt like I owned one. At the worst of times, I’ve felt the opposite, that they’ve owned me. Even the big, sad eyes of the Dumpster Kitties have gotten me wrapped around their paws.

Nothing epitomizes the unpredictability of living with cats more than what they do while you are sleeping. The following is a typical night in the Frey-Huls household.

11:00pm - Lights out.

11:05pm - Allison jumps on the bed and crawls onto my chest. She begins kneading bread on my chest and neck. None of the kitties are de-clawed, so if I have neglected keeping their claws trimmed, now is when I regret it. She also purrs loudly and rubs her face against mine. Since I’m not entirely sleeping yet, this is always pretty cute. What’s not so cute is that she has a chronically leaky eye so sometimes her intense cuddling also leads to wiping leakage on my cheek. This can be kinda gross and when this happens I grab a Kleenex, wipe my face and tiredly throw the balled-up tissue in the direction of the garbage. This causes Allison to jump off and chase it.

1:00am - Wrigley jumps on the bed and bites my forearm. He has the most unbelievably sharp teeth I’ve ever felt. They are particularly sharp when being awoken by them from a deep sleep. He purrs and keeps biting my hands, feet and any other part of skin exposed. It is this behavior that requires Dean and I to sleep fully covered with blankets up to our chins even when it’s summer in Florida. After being bitten several times, I toss Wrigley off the bed and invoke the blanket-up-to-chin defense and go back to sleep.

2:30am - “F#$%#$@!!!” Wrigley has bitten Dean in the face. During the day I am sometimes jealous that Dean has a closer bond with Wrigley than I do. My jealousy is not present at this time.

4:15am- Nellie, the alpha female, has hunted one of her numerous prey. This is usually a sock stuffed with cotton and catnip that Sylvia made for her right after we got her. She howls distraughtly until one of us gets out of bed and retrieves the prey after properly praising her for her prowess. Recall that Wrigley likes to bite any part of exposed flesh when the lights are off, so collecting Nellie’s victim also involves shaking Wrigley off our ankles while cursing his impressive teeth.

5:30am- Allison is back. This time instead of making bread, she lies on my pillow and wraps herself around my head. She likes to lick my forehead. While cat-tongue is an effective exfoliate, it is not generally welcome. She also sometimes misses my forehead and catches a mouthful of hair instead.

6:30am- The alarm goes off. I get out of bed and put my gym pants on to avoid any further abuse from Wrigley. I turn on the lights to find three pairs of eyes looking up adoringly at me and all is forgiven.


mom said...

now come on, i have seen you kitties first hand AT LEAST a half a dozen times and they are all just angels, now let me tell you about my brood.....

magnetbabe said...

Please do!

Hot4Teacha said...

How do you survive on so little sleep? Argh! I can't stand it when Pokey harasses me (Charlie's cat, even though he has grown on me and sometimes I call him "my cat"). Now, Pokey's worst offense is wanting to play when humans are asleep. So he'll drag his toy mice into the bed, and bat them around, smacking said human in the face with either a mouse or his tail as he dives for the said mouse. Then it's time to lick the chin...lick, lick, lick, no skin left, keep licking. Needless to say, Pokey tried to sleep with me dice. I started out just mad, but then the eyes were watering, my nose was running, I felt itchy...the usual anti-cat defense my body erects. Sorry, Pokey. Go sleep with Charlie.

Scott said...

Thanks, you reminded me of my own cats who used to sleep on my bed too. I got really good at not rolling over them at night. The part I couldn't stand was the cat yawns, from which emitted the foulest odor I have ever smelled outside an outhouse.

gabrielle said...

"I love cats because I enjoy my home and little by little they become the visible soul."--Jean Cocteau
In some perverse way, reading "things that go meow" invoked a wave of nostalgia for the time when cats padded freely through my days.
Oh those late night trysts!
The pericardial acupuncture sessions!
Those special deliveries of special felines to their special human!(these were outdoor cats)
Not to mention my reliance on the keen sensibilities of my feline companions to screen my boyfriends for their long term sustainability (I simply did not have the objectivity)
Most recently, I recall those nights at Logan Avenue South when Chris and I would receive late night visits from Chelsea, dutifully performing her nocturnal ablutions. "No bathing!!!" came the stern interdiction from a not-so-nocturnal creature. Chelsea would abruptly pause in mock deference, tilt her head convincingly and stare pensively at Chris' third eye. She then would ensconce herself in a soft velour cleft of blanket and compulsively resume her grooming ritual with a renewed vigor and determination. Knowing full well that he had lost the skirmish, Chris would feebly reassert the house rules and strategically position a spare pillow over his head. At some inscrutable moment after calm had bed restored, Chelsea, who was by nature a timid and reclusive creature, would take the opportunity to strike. You see, Chelsea was a nose nibbler--but only with intimates. It took many months until I was to experience this expression of fierce tenderness for myself. This is when I knew that I was kin.
I guess that this confirms what I have been afraid to admit to myself after all these years...that I am still a card carrying member of the Crazy Lady Cat Club.

magnetbabe said...

It's not that I don't get enough sleep, it's just very interrupted. It's good practice for when I have human babies ;) I see you're coming around on the kitties yourself. Do you need me to get you your own doll? Just stay away from the peroxide...

LOL! Cat breath can be pretty nasty. I recommend you not think too closely about why that might be. When we first got Wrigley he was so tiny that Dean would sleep on the couch and lock me and Wrigly together in the bedroom because he was terrified of crushing him. Now the kitties have gotten so good at knowing his sleeping patterns they know when to get out of the way if they sense a roll coming!

Thank you for bringing back memories of Chelsea. She sure knew how to get under dad's skin, and he too failed at being a cat "owner"! She was such a sweetheart though, it was hard to get upset whenever you felt (or heard) her presence. If dad thought that was bad, he wouldn't make it a night at our place. I forgot to mention the occasional stepping in vomit on the way to the bathroom in the night or when you wake up after a few hours to find yourself panicking, thinking "why haven't I been woken up yet?!" This happened to me the other night. Turns out the three of them were too busy cornering a roach to inflict their nightly abuse upon us. Maybe we shouldn't let dad even read this...
Anyway, I hope that your family can be blessed enought to be owned again by felines very soon.

dancingo4 said...

Well, reading all of your cat people stories kind of makes me sad that i'm not a "cat person" - well, really not even an "animal person." I'm glad there are people like all of you to make that connection with the pets and take care of them. I do think I miss out on that connection but I just can't bring myself to like being licked by another creature.
I do have to say I'm getting better. Mike's roommate has a dog, Maggie, and i'm starting to like her, well, except when she is wet. But that is progress for me. :-)

Although your posts do help fuel my arguement that outside pets are the best way to go.

magnetbabe said...

Ew. Nothing grosser than a wet dog. It does seem to take a certain type of person to connect with animals on the sort of spiritual level that some of us do. I get jealous of those who have that talent with children, or the elderly or disabled people. Honestly, those things don't come naturally to me, but I wouldn't think twice about nurturing a sick animal (i.e. dumpster kitties). I guess that's why everyone has their own likes and dislikes.
I can see your point about outdoor pets. However, for those of us in the more urban areas, keeping animals outside is more dangerous. A cat's average lifetime falls from around 15 years for an indoor cat to 7 years if they are kept outside. I'm not sure about the difference in quality of life, they are animals at heart, but Nellie seems happy to hunt stuffed socks, not really caring (or knowing?) it's not the real thing.