Thursday, April 03, 2008

Memphis: City, Cat, Alarm Clock

Beloved Memphis, the pretty orange cat whom you've all come to know and love, is a royal pain in the ass daily, at some unpredictable time that's predictably between 4 and 7 a.m. I think the catalyst for her waking up is one of us stirring in our sleep - I become slightly conscious of her leaning on my leg but needing to move it, and as soon as there's a hint of daylight those movements seem to indicate to her that it's time to get up! And get fed! So she starts walking across the bed. That doesn't seem like a huge deal, right? Consider: At bedtime, when she's settling in, she might walk across the bed a couple of times without touching either of the humans lying in it. She'll step over legs, arms, torsos until she finds a good spot. In the morning? I swear to God every single paw touches every single human body part with each crossing. It. Is. Fucking. Annoying. If one of us then moves in her direction she takes off, only to return a few minutes later and do the same thing.

Her other M.O. is to poke one of us with her paw - in the butt, in the back, shoulder, whatever she can find. It isn't a gentle poke, either - it's as hard as a person would poke. And it. Is. Fucking. Annoying.

Sometimes I don't think she's the brightest cat, but she definitely learns. I've started locking her in the bathroom when she wakes me up at ungodly hours (anytime before 7 a.m.), but she's onto that, so the moment I sit up she hides under the bed. For a couple of days going out to the kitchen and standing beside her food bowl was enough to get her to show herself, but two days ago I actually had to OPEN the can, and yesterday I had to set her (empty) bowl on the floor before she'd even tentatively peer around the corner.

OK, so we play this little game and finally she comes out from wherever she's hiding and I put her in the bathroom. I'd like to report that at this point I go back to bed and sleep peacefully until my alarm goes off, at which point I wake up well-rested. Sadly, that isn't the case. Instead, I go back to bed and am faced with one or more of the following scenarios.

1. I accidentally haven't pulled the bathroom door shut well enough, and so with enough pawing, the door eventually unlatches and it's wake-the-people o'clock again.

2. Memphis meows (the most pathetic mewling you can imagine) and paws at the door. Which thumps. While I can sleep through the mewling and thumping, I have trouble falling asleep to it. So I lie there, listening to the mewling/thumping, considering how many ways there really are to skin a cat.

3. She is quiet in the bathroom, and I'm convinced she's dead.

4. I worry about her comfort. I've read that cats don't do things out of spite but if the bathmat is on the floor when I put Memphis in the bathroom, there will inevitably be a turd in the middle of it, less than a foot away from her clean litter box. So, I put the mat over the side of the tub, then lie awake, worrying about Her Preciousness having to lie on the floor.

I don't know how I've lived with this for 11 (no, that's not a typo, ELEVEN) years, but here we are. I've scoured the internets for any tips on how to deal with this problem, and the most common advice is to ignore the pestering, but they don't offer any information on how to deal with the resulting sleep deprivation. The vet has recommended spraying her with water or compressed air. I've tried the water and the result was me lying half-awake loosely holding a spray bottle and waving it at Memphis every time she comes back to bug me, which is every 3 minutes, or every time her tiny brain forgets that there was some reason she wasn't in there continuously pestering me.

I'm certainly not the only cat owner with this problem, nor am I the only cat owner to lie awake at 4:30 a.m. considering the benefits of goldfish as pets. I can only hope that future generations' feline companions evolve into their domesticity and ease up on those nocturnal hunting instincts a little.

8 comments:

Elizabeth said...

Yikes. I am going to save this post and re-read it if I ever consider getting a cat.

TNT Jim said...

Let me ask you, is it anything like the video posted on this blog:

http://myveryownrunningblog.blogspot.com/2008/03/naughty-girl.html

Brianna said...

This is likely not what you'd like to hear but... lock her in the bathroom before you go to bed?

Candace said...

Smudge starts meowing at 6am which is only a problem on weekends because during the week we're supposed to be up by then anyway. I don't know how she knows it's 6am, she even adjusts for daylight savings time. On the weekend I throw things at her. Stuffed animals, articles of clothing, whatever is near the bed.

WTWTG said...

funny post. i have images of you and a spray bottle at 4am. Our vishes walks all over us during the night. But I'm a pretty deep sleeper and he doesn't bother me so much.

amy said...

oh god, that is hilarious. i could just imagine a sleepy, bed-head gillian, fighting Memphis in an early morning wrestle. my own dear cat is quite well behaved and knows not to wake us up (though she does sleep on us most nights). what i can't get used to is waking up and finding her staring at us intently from the corner of the bed and i can't help but think that she is thinking "ok, if they don't wake up in 5 minutes it means they are dead and i will eat them. please don't wake up".

the other other gillian said...

I'm not sure if it would make you feel any better that this post only supports our parallel life theory...

Actually, my cat's not so bad, but mostly because I gave up kicking her out of my room at 4:30 am and learned how to sleep through the feline alarm. Also, I no longer keep any doors closed in the apartment as she freaks out if she's on the other side of it from me and scratches at it incessantly. One eventually learns to pee with the cat on one's lap...

Michael Reid said...

I was laughing at this post and I was thinking about the Dog Whisperer episode of South Park. I felt so smug about the reply I was going to post: "What you clearly need to do is contact the Cat Whisper-er-er. BWAHAHAHAHA." I would say.

Then I realized that what you really need to do is contact the Cat Whisperer.

Boo.