Friday, February 17, 2012

The Cause of My Fatigue is 4-legged and Furry

I confess. I don't sleep well. I can't seem to get into a pattern of rest that resembles anything that might be considered "normal".

Maybe I shouldn't drink caffeine in the afternoon (I had given it up several years ago but it has crept back into my life rather stealthily). Maybe I shouldn't set my sleep mode on the TV for 60 minutes and then watch Comedy Central which usually has me laughing so hard the rest of the house now also suffers from sleep disorders.

It could be a combination of many things. Perhaps the hormonal changes I continue to go through in this, the menopausal stage of life, have affected me. I try not to lose any sleep over it.

Really, though, I blame the cat.

"The cat?!" you say, alarmed at my flippant, seemingly baseless, observation.

The Cat.

Her name is Little Kitty. She weighs about 12 lbs. I know, that's not very little, you say, but it was compared to Big Kitty, rest his feline soul.  She's a domestic short haired calico with a snowy white stomach and a brown, black and gray patchwork on her back that I swear would camouflage her up north on a winter day where the grass was dead and the snow was patchy. She's absolutely stunning and I love her to pieces.

But come night time, after she has napped in a sunny spot all day, she can be rather demanding in a vocal sort of way.

Around 9pm all I have to do is snap my fingers at her, wherever she is in the house and she gets up and trots to the bed, usually protesting with this "nya-nya-nya!" kind of  meow, however obedient she might be. She's like a little kid who has to say something about it not being bedtime, but she goes regardless because she knows it's pointless to resist..

Why do I corral her in the bedroom, you ask? Because ever since we moved in with Mom about two and a half years ago, Little Kitty has been mortal enemies with my mother's five pound scrappy female yellow tabby who is going on fifteen years old. And to make things more complicated, she is ALSO named Little Kitty. 

I know, right? What are the odds!? Well apparently they are quite high if you come from a family who has absolutely no imagination when it comes to naming animals. I once kept 2 cats from a litter of orange tabbies. The only discernible difference was that one of them had a black spot on the end of it's tail.

That one, of course, was immediately named "Spot". The other one went nameless for so long she became known as "Not Spot" just because, when someone asked "Which cat is that? Spot?" with one glance we could answer, "No, it's not Spot."

But I digress.

At nine sharp, my cat obediently trots to the bedroom and leaps up to circle around and eventually lay down in what we call the "Kitty Loaf" position, with all paws tucked under the torso. Looking basically like a fur covered meatloaf with the head of a cat.

She will purr and purr, and sleep there contentedly, never moving from her resting spot at the end of the bed. She's got a thing for feet and will, under no circumstances, lay anywhere near a human's head, arms, torso or even (if you are upright and sitting down) lap. She will, however, straddle your legs at the ankles and plop her purry mass on your feet, pinning them in a full nelson to the bed.

At this point I can see the mechanics among you readers just sitting back, pulling that toothpick from your mouth and pointing at the screen saying "That  right there's yer problem!" But, surprisingly, no. I love having the cat on my feet or curled up beside them. Her warm, furry goodness has more than once quieted the spastic twitching of my legs. Just her weight, warmth and purring vibrations are better than any contraption man might sell by late night infomercial.

Little Kitty's arch nemesis, Little Kitty, in her fur covered lair.

No, what the problem is doesn't reveal its ugly meowing head until around three in the morning. This is when my loving Little Kitty decides to yawn and stretch and jump down from the bed to begin her nightly routine of Awakening the Human. And not just any human, ME!

She begins with a raspy meow that says she's just waking up and it's the first meow of the day, so how do you expect me to sound?

But soon she has her rhythm going. She's doing one of those purring, rolling trills of a meow that seem to end on a high note which is obviously a question.

But I resist.

I do not budge, not even to open an eye in response because she's got that Feline Night Vision (probably even sees me light up green through her eyes) and she gets very excited if she thinks her efforts are having an effect on me.

And the thing of it is, she only wants to go outside and prowl. By daylight we live in an innocuous, picturesque setting in the woods on a creek. By moonlight, with the owls hooting and the crickets chirping, it's a Cat's Domain. And she wants to go reign supreme. Apparently all her loyal subjects await the Opening of the Red Door at three a.m.

Her Highness' Domain

When the trilling meow works no magic, she proceeds to Plan B or Phase Two or whatever she calls it in that little walnut she's got for a brain.

She struts casually to position herself at the base of the nightstand and emits a soft "ok, you asked for it" meow that I know all to well from staying put through Plan A, Phase 1 and not giving up ground.

Knowing what comes next, I let an arm fall off the bed, and dangle above her ears. I can just barely touch the soft hair on the top of her head, but she knows it's my counter move to place myself strategically between her and the top of the night stand.

I tickle the top of her head with my fingers, trying to put them on automatic while the rest of me goes back to sleep. Realizing that is my strategy, she gently starts ducking down lower and lower, trying to pull me out of bed by forcing me to reach farther and farther for her head.

The gentle, insistent meows are intermittently rolling off her tongue. She's careful to never space them the exact same distance apart, however, lest it have the opposite effect and lull me back to sleep.

By this time it is usually going on three-thirty.

The standoff progresses until she invariably makes a bold move. Either leaping onto the nightstand when I have dozed and let my guard down, or she's turned and headed for the closet.

The nightstand is fraught with danger. There is a ceramic lamp, my bifocals, usually a beverage of some sort, and piles of things like change, keys, nail clippers, date books, etc. haphazardly stacked in such a way as to make a dramatic crescendo when toppled.

The closet, her second choice but one she does not hesitate to make if the nightstand wasn't satisfactorily stocked with noisy things, has only a curtain for a door. No match for her.

And in the closet, not only are there hanging clothes, but there are stacks of boxes at one end. Stuff that moved here with me. Stuff I couldn't part with, yet don't have the room to unpack as we have crammed two households into one living space here.

When she goes into the closet,  it is with the sole intention of dislodging something that will make a dramatic crash. She knows I will come up off the bed immediately scolding her and flinging back the covers wildly.

When she hears me, she doesn't even hesitate. She jumps out of the closet and makes a beeline for the front door, saying "oh, you're up? Great! Could you let me out? I'd do it myself but I don't have thumbs."

So this is why I am always awake at three in the morning. Not because I want to be, but apparently because I have to be.

I've thought about all the options. Even forcing Her Highness to stay outside all night.

But I need my purring foot warmer for however long she's willing to grace me with her presence. It's the closest I'm going to come to the Spa Treatment.

So, I'll go ahead and post this now... at 5:21 a.m. ... as I've been up for over two hours now and it's almost time to start getting everyone else up.

When I nap away the afternoon, it's not due to the whispered rumors of my MS getting to me, or that I've become an Old Age cliche. 

It's because Little Kitty has me trained. Apparently if I sleep when she sleeps, everything works out just fine.


  1. I love this! How many times have I realized that I'm twisted into some bizarre pretzel shape on MY bed in order to accommodate the damn cat?!? Who simply takes it as her due :D

  2. ROFLMAO!!! Although my cats are all indoors, they do a similar routine if we are not up by 7-ish to FEED. THEM. NOW.

  3. Wow, great stuff, you know, if those cat's ever get the 'no opposable thumb' problem sorted out, us humans are gonna be in so much trouble.

    I loved reading this post and I'm going to read as much as I can of your earlier posts - I love your easy and funny writing style!

    1. Thanks so much, Carolyn! I love writing. Just wish I could figure out a way to make money doing it. I see you're a freelance writer. How's that working for you? Any tips?


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