SMALL BABIES AND CATS
Small babies have a habit of making one’s sleep cycle irrelevant. They wake when they wake; and they sleep when they sleep—and the need and desire for others to sleep without interruption is of no consequence to them. All babies are born egomaniacs. Education is primarily about toning down this tendency. It rarely succeeds entirely.
I know this because I am the eldest of twelve children, and the father of five. To express the thing in military terms, “I have seen the elephant”—an expression which means: “I have experienced combat.” I have diapered more small chubby bottoms than I care to think about.
Could it be that cats are worse? Or should I differentiate between cats, in general, and Chris and Jane’s cats in particular? Here’s the thing: Jane likes to get up shortly after 3.00 am—and to conduct her day backwards—so the cats have been conditioned to expect to have their first meal of the day at that hour. In contrast, I have more traditional habit and needs; and, at weekends, I find sleeping until 10.00 am is highly beneficial to my health.
Chester is not remotely concerned with my health. Even when dry cat-food, and plenty of fresh water, are laid out for his satisfaction, he feels entitled to yowl his head off at 3.00 am—and to continue until he is fed soft food (of the kind you get out of a can). He eats both, but prefers meat in gravy so he will engage in torture until his needs are satisfied. He will yowl, he will bash away at the door, and he will try and trip me up when I emerge. When he is not doing all of the above, he likes to knock things down. What things? Any and all things—from a cereal packet to vertical containers. This is a cat who seems dedicated to the horizontal. Yesterday, he managed to knock down a wing chair. It fell against a glass sliding door—the one that leads to the balcony—but did not quite break it. Still, if at first a cat does not succeed…Chester is more than willing to try again.
I have a mental image of bundling Chester up into a furry ball—he is a very furry cat—and of putting him to good use as a bowling ball in a bowling alley. But, I’m not that cruel.
Instead, I am becoming obsessed with the balcony door. A fall of six stories into the chill waters of Lake Washington in the wee small hours would be as sweet. Nine lives against six stories—followed by drowning? My bet would be on gravity.
I would, of course, have saved him if I had been awake—if the fall hadn’t killed him first—but, naturally enough—if Chester had not been yowling outside my bedroom door, I would have been asleep.
Pity about Chester!