In Our Own Backyard...Rise and shine
I should have known something was up when I heard one of the cats sharpening her claws on our wooden bed frame. It was well before dawn so I ruled it out as some vague anomaly in the cats’ normally regimented routine. I was just fading back to sleep when I heard a heavy thump on the end of our bed, followed by stony silence. I moaned inwardly, knowing full well that the feeding onslaught had begun unusually early that day.
Any of you who own cats will understand how they “get” when they want to be fed. Any of you who don’t are probably happy you’ll never have to know.
Being creatures of habit to the Nth degree, cats have a survival instinct that will guarantee they don’t go hungry, no matter what. In the case of our two, they are fond of tag teaming it in the early morning hours when my husband and I would gratefully sleep in until the sun rises, or the alarm clock goes off — whichever comes first.
For reasons unknown to man, however, cats always want to eat earlier than either of those things. For a creature that purportedly sleeps 23 hours out of every 24, I am clueless to figure out how they can generate so voracious an appetite.
Every morning the thump at the end of the bed is normally followed by a slow, stalking stride up the side of the bed (always my side, since my husband is more apt to fling them off). Just as the famished feline gets about eye-level with me, the other jumps up on the night table (often knocking off newspapers, glasses, or other small objects as he goes), glides onto the bed and flings his entire weight full length across the top of my pillow, above my head. Right about then, the first cat reaches out with her front paw and tentatively touches me on the cheek. That is usually my clue to barrel roll onto my other side, because if I don’t, the second “touch” is often accompanied by a little claw action as well. The cat on my pillow then softly touches the top of my head with his nose, rubbing both sides of his muzzle against my hair. (Right about now, I’m sure I have lost any non-cat lovers with a complete case of the willies.)
If I still remain non-responsive, which takes a good deal of steely determination, the cat alongside me on the bed often climbs up on top of me and teeters there, gazing steadily at me from close range. Even if it’s too dark to see, I know that she’s staring at me, just as I know the cat on the pillow is staring at me from above. I can stand it for just so long before I heave myself out of bed and feed them. It’s a foregone conclusion, one that there is no denying no matter how late we’ve been up the night before or whether it’s a work day or a lazy Saturday morning. The cats will not go unfed past their self-appointed breakfast time — no matter what.
Much the same routine goes on at night after we get home from work. Without ever bothering to greet us or show us how much they missed us all day, they make a beeline for their food bowls and stare expectantly at us until they get fed.
The problem is, they seem to feel they need to be fed again before bedtime. And at 13 and 16 pounds respectively, they certainly don’t need it. We finally decided to try to fool them by feeding them “first supper” and “last supper,” dividing their usual food portion in half and administering it at two different times.
I don’t know if we exactly succeeded, however — because they’re always there again the next morning, staring at me in the dark.