musings from Canadian author Cheryl Cooke Harrington ... home of The Write Spot

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

cat's the boss

Meet Sam the Cat. I haven't blogged about him for quite a while and I suspect he's a bit put out by the lack of attention. Here he is, ignoring me with great eloquence.

Sam the Cat, catching up on his beauty sleep.

I can't help feeling a bit annoyed by his peaceful, mid-day slumber. In fact, I'm tempted to make a lot of noise and maybe even tickle his ears to wake him up. But, no. That would be unkind. Sam is a "retired gentleman" of fourteen years and, as we all do, is starting to feel his age. I try to understand his quirks, even when those quirks involve waking me up at the crack of dawn every morning. This wasn't a problem in the winter, when dawn in Toronto doesn't crack until nearly 7 a.m. and I had to be up for work anyway. But I'm happily retired from the Day Job now and the summer sky begins to lighten at oh-what-the-heck o'clock. Every morning, somewhere around 4:30 a.m., Sir Sam begins his "feed me now" routine: yowl, pace, jump on bed, stare, nudge, yowl, jump down, repeat. He's relentless. I try to resist but eventually, worn down and grumpy, I drag myself to the kitchen to do his bidding. 

It's all my own fault, of course. (Nothing is ever the cat's fault, as anyone who's ever lived with a feline companion knows.) Last fall, I noticed Sam seemed to be having more then the usual number of digestive upsets. The solution was to switch from all dry food to once a day tinned food. He's feeling much better and, boy, does he love his tinned turkey! My mistake was to offer this most succulent and satisfying treat in the morning, before work. Three days into our new regime, Sam's "Wake-up! It's morning! I'm hungry!" routine began. And I've been woefully sleep-deprived ever since.

I've tried everything from ignoring him with a pillow over my head (he just gets louder), to squirting him with a water bottle (he dodges, then sneaks back in and swats my leg - ow!). This week, though, I think I may have hit on a solution. Instead of letting him lounge around in the evening, I've been keeping him busy with brushing, nail trimming, red-dot tag, and his favourite iPad games. Then, just when he's starting to feel weary, I offer him a saucer of tinned turkey and a short but firm reminder that turkey time is in the evening now.

Sam plays pat-the-handsome-cat.

On morning number one, dawn broke and Sam yowled. I calmly reminded him that he'd enjoyed his turkey the night before and suggested he go back to sleep. He considered this. And then he yowled for an hour. I got up, had a drink of water, and went back to bed. This caused some consternation on his part, followed by ten minutes of intense staring (I could feel it, even with my eyes shut). Then he yowled a scoldy-sort of rebuke and stalked off to do secret cat things in the other room. Happily, the secret cat things did not involve destruction of furniture. Sadly, my imaginings of what he might be doing kept me awake anyway.

Morning number two unfolded in pretty much the same way as morning one. With the added bonus of a little exclamation mark of ...erm... poop, left in the hallway for me to find on my way to the bathroom. Luckily, I spotted the offering in time to avoid stepping on it. Sam got a dire look and a few choice words about gentlemanly behaviour. I swear he raised one eyebrow and shrugged.

Today, day three, I dare to hope this might actually be starting to work! (Don't tell Sam I said that!) He woke with the first light of dawn, as usual, yowled once, paced a bit, jumped onto the bed and burbled at me, then curled up by my feet and went to sleep. Oh, joy!

Only time will tell if my strategy has really worked. I'm hoping for an uninterrupted night's sleep by this weekend - it will be my first in many months. Added bonus: Sam hasn't transferred his feed-me-now yowls to the evening timeslot. (Don't tell him I said that!) 

Wish me luck!


At 11:00 pm, Anonymous Susan McNicoll said...

What a great story. I love the pat the handsome cat game and loved the photo too. Sam is just so gorgeous. How do we stand looking at them? He certainly does not look 14 at all. I hope your training stuck and you are now able to sleep in. Jay is remarkably patient about his food most of the time but I divide his wet can of food over the course of three meals during the day. As soon as he sees it is time for food, though, he starts meowing tremendously and loudly. I think he does it because it makes it looks like he is telling me what to do!!! Thankfully he does not try to wake me up in the morning or I might be tempted to send him back from whence he came but, as you put it so well, it is never the cat's fault!

At 11:12 pm, Blogger Cheryl said...

I think we are both well and truly ruled by our cats, Susan! Sam did a bit of backsliding on days four and five, but he was remarkably quiet and calm last night. Of course, I woke up at 4:30 anyway! Who's training who, I wonder? LOL Thanks for reading. Sam says "hello" to Jay.

At 7:58 am, Blogger Kathy Davis said...

Samcat reminds me on Henri. Perhaps you know him:
Great series of video made by Henri, the existentialist cat.

Great blog. Thanks for sharing.

At 10:42 am, Blogger Cheryl said...

Yes, Kathy, I do know Henri and have often suspected Sam has similar thoughts. So funny. Thanks for reading!


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