As I grow older, I appreciate a good night’s rest. This is a fairly great character development for me. As a teenager or in college, I would gladly stay up until all hours of the night and sleep until noon or later if possible. I have always been a night owl by nature. Now that I am a little older and I have a job where I work mornings, it means a little more to me when the possibility of sleeping in beyond 6:00 a.m. occurs.
The problem is that never happens anymore. I have three furry children whose group mission in life is to see how early and how often they can wake me. I have two cats and one dog. They all have their own style and motives to accomplish this feat. In my best Nick Kroll (The League) voice, “COLLUSION!”
The youngest cat, Tarball, is 3 years old and 16lbs. He is the catalyst for the whole equation. He usually starts the procedure somewhere between 4:30 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. by repeatedly, rhythmically, and methodically, pawing at every door, cabinet, wall, or even plastic storage box that he can find. Now that may not sound like much, but it is the feline equivalent of Chinese water torture. He is persistent. It will continue for hours if unchecked. Yelling, a spray bottle, thrown pillows, none of these things matter in his world. I have deduced through much frustration, trial, and error, that he wants one or more of these four things:
- More food
- Running water
- New/clean cat litter
- To annoy me for no reason
So, after hoping today will be the day he shows mercy, I usually get out of my warm bed and attempt to deduce which of the needs must be filled. Once satiated, he often crawls onto the bed and goes to sleep again. Traditionally, his resting area is between my knees. It is amazing how effectively 16lbs of cat can pin the lower half of your body to the bed.
That is when the oldest of the three, Oscar, also a cat, goes to work. He has a perpetual grumpiness about his visage, but he is a snuggler at the core. As I lie back down to squeeze more sleep into my body, that is when he walks across the pillows and my face to curl up against me in my right armpit. Always the right armpit. Now, after I get over the assault to my face, this behavior is quite endearing and I don’t mind it one bit, except for the fact that I now have another 16lbs of cat pinning down the right half of my torso beneath the covers. But, I want to return to sleep, so it is alright. This cat, however, is sometimes prone to waking from a dead sleep and launching himself, with surprising speed that belies his size, to anywhere except right where he was resting. That is when I wake up again because surely armageddon is coming via a horde of robot ninjas. Nope. It is only the crazed cat dreams.
Grunt, the 70lb dog, is the final horseman of the Day Off Apocalypse. He generally rests at the foot of the bed or on the neighboring pillow through the feline insanity, sometimes getting annoyed and retreating to the living room couch for his own rest. Rest that he carefully saves up then to sit by the front door or the side of my bed at around 6 a.m. letting out a steadily paced barrage of slow groans or grunts until I find a way to disengage from 32lbs of cat and stumble my way to the front door. I understand he has been pent up in the house all night and may need to use the yard. That is my responsibility as his person. It is only fair because he neither has opposable thumbs nor an understanding of doorknobs and deadbolts. Some days, though, he won’t go outside when I open that door. He looks out, looks up at me, then turns around and saunters off into the bedroom to resume his place on the spare pillow next to mine.
That is when I walk back into the bedroom to find these furry three strewn in their various positions across the queen-sized bed. They may look like they are now settled, but I know the truth. They are reloading.