Early Morning Cat
Many of us have animals as pets in our homes. They are for the most part, very nice additions to our lives. At times though like each of us, they too can be a challenge with their unusual habits. For some of you readers, you know that we have a cat named Toby because I written about her in past. She was a stray that adopted us as her family. One day she showed up in our meadow, and me being a softy, tossed food out to her since I was first to see her. She was very thin and was apparently starving. After having her treated for intestinal parasites, and giving her all the shots that she needed, Toby was a part of our family. She has now lived with us for about 4 years, and we could not imagine what life would be like without her. She is very protective of our children and has been very patient with them when they were small. I remember our little boy running around the house chasing her, trying to pet her with aggressive strokes that would have made me wince, that is, with the vigor of affection that Will wanted to give her. Consequently, Toby did not bite or hiss; she only headed for a part of the house she knew Will could not go to. It would not be unusual to see her sitting patiently on the other side of a child gate, waiting for her audience to leave, so Toby could perform her cat duties that was so much a part of her daily routine.
|"This is my kitty!"|
Our daughter on the other hand had different ideas for Toby. As a two year old, Abby had a passion for dolls and dress up. I have built her two large doll houses and Abby has loved playing with them, decorating the individual rooms and of course, dressing up her dolls. After a period of time though, Abby wanted to have a doll that moved, and it was not unusual to walk by and see a little cat dressed up in an American Girl dress, or have some bib or doll bonnet on Toby’s head. Toby on the other hand did not protest with this, she only went patiently along with this gentle abuse. Toby has adopted our children as her kittens, and while loving Abby and Will very much, she is also very protective of them as well.
|Anne reading to Abby and Will.|
Toby though has a few idiosyncrasies of her own. She loves to go in and out of the house at her choosing, and will on occasion want to give a mouse to my wife when she is sitting on the porch with me, that is while having a cup of coffee early in the morning. Anne, trying not to panic on the other hand, will attempt to ignore Toby. This will leave our cat no choice in her mind, thus Toby will next lift the very lively mouse up to Anne’s knees, in an attempt to thrust her gift into Anne’s lap. For Toby, she obviously sees Anne as being a little dull in aptitude, not recognizing a generous gift when it laid out before her. At this point my gentle wife will wince and pull her legs up to her chin, all the while her ladylike resolve disappears into gasps of horror. Seeing Anne in a panic, I will gently lift Toby away and set the kitty down in the flower garden along with her rejected gift. I look at Toby’s prize and calculate that the mouse has a 50-50 chance in disappearing in the flowerbed, if it is clever enough to escape.
|"I am very easy to love!"|
When getting married, both Anne and I took time in geting used to each other and our habits. Some of them were changed for the other's convenience, and with other pre-formed habits, we found it wise to compromise. This arrangement has proved to be very effective in adapting to each other for our individual and collective ways of life. When children came along though, we found ourselves adjusting further to more changes in our ways. At each stage of our children’s development, more changes were required for both of us as parents, and for our children as well. All in all, we have a wonderful life and enjoy each other very much. But, there is one area that I personally struggle with, and that is with Toby waking me up at around 4 in the morning wanting to be fed.
Over the years we have found that as a family, we cannot allow Toby to feed on unlimited amounts of food laid out before her. We found that her weight gain went up in a very short time. We can only associate that with Toby's fear of starving, that it came with her living in the wild and always being hungry. Consequently, with this compulsion in Toby, that is in wanting to gorge herself, we measure out her food twice a day. We feed her once in the morning and one time in the evening, giving her around a half of a cup each time. Toby’s weight has gone down to a normal level, and she looks now like a sleek beautifully groomed kitty. We have made Toby a part of the family and we cannot say how much we would miss her if she was not in our lives each day.
|"I would scare Scrat away if not for this glass!"|
But on the other hand, Toby has one bad habit that requires, on my part, a great deal of patience. As I previously stated, she wants to wake me up every day around 4 a.m. to feed her. First, Toby jumps on the bed and tries a stare down with me. If I am asleep, of which I normally am at that time, Toby goes about as if I were awake and alert, she assumes then that I will respond to her with kind gestures, and if I ignore her (in her eyes) she then goes to plan B. Toby next pushes her nose up against mine, this would not be so bad except that hers is very wet, and her breath is not to be found in having a fresh toothpaste smell. What invariably happens is that I roll over and try to ignore her at this point. Seeing this obvious rudeness on my part, she next starts to walk on my body, starting with my head and ending with my feet being compressed with tiny weighted paws. Now if this does not get me up, Toby then begins to start purring very loudly. At this point I think that in her mind, she appears very loving, and so, reveals this to me, of which then I will surely get her food. I then roll over and look at the clock, and at this point I think less loving thoughts about my feline furry creature of habit. I recall one time in telling Anne about the incident that I just described, and after sharing this with her, that is of my tormented tale, she compassionately touched me on the shoulder and said that Toby, in her mind, only wants me to get up early as I often do in the summer to play golf. “She is being a dutiful alarm clock. Cats are a creature of habit and Toby only wants to help you get on the golf course on time.” I wanted to believe this, but I could not find the compassion needed at this point because if that were so, then Toby would leave me alone after getting up. Instead, she follows me around the house and meows until she is fed. After eating her fill, Toby then retreats to a chair or couch and subsequently goes to sleep.
|Toby just groomed herself. Next, time to roll in the sand|
(Now back again to our early morning Tango.) If Toby does see that I am not overwhelmed with her show of affection for me, that is, by purring very loudly, her next course of action is to begin walking on Anne. I then quickly notice Toby’s next ploy and gently brush her off Anne before she wakes up in a fright. In the routine of things, Toby has devised varied methods of annoying me until I do get up. One of these times was when I cleverly closed the bedroom door on her. I then felt very proud of my very obvious intellect over the beast. “This will keep her out and I can now sleep.” Toby though is not to be deterred. In her attempt in not being out smarted, she then pushes up against the solid core oak door. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, and for Toby, she understands this mathematical principle all to well. She somehow knows that with each thrust given, it will give way to a loud banging noise when the door hits the stop. Now in desperation, if this action does not work, she then starts meowing very loudly, as well as rubs up against our bedroom door with weighted gusto. By this point I am desperate, and somewhat frustrated. I am beginning to gave in, so I open the door and Toby enters purring away, all the while I angrly retreat to my covers. I am almost asleep once more when I then feel the claws of a paw against my thigh. This had an immediate effect on me, one that normally would take several cups of coffee to produce. I found myself waking up with my heart racing and my eyes bulging out with horror. “What in the world!” I then looked down by my assaulted body part, only to see a kitty looking very innocent, and appearing to be waiting patiently for me to get up. That angelic look on her whiskered face seemed to show a puzzled smile as if to say, “Whaaaat?”
|Looking for mice and chipmunks.|
|Abby wanted to take this picture of her kitty.|
I am not usually a person that gets riled very easily, but waking up with claws in my thigh, well, it brings out in me the person I am not fond of. I know that Jesus has asked us love our enemies, but at this point my thoughts are not in line with scripture. I am thinking very badly at this moment. My thoughts vengefully go to that of having a cat feeder that is chucked full of food with laser sensors on the cover. I then envision the lid closing when Toby is about to eat. This process repeats itself in my mind over and over until I feel some sort of pay back. The dark side of me at this point also thinks of how I will wait until Toby is asleep. I then begin to pet Toby vigorously until she is clearly awake. I smile, and then retreat to my bed, sleeping very soundly once again. Later, I then repeat the same process, which wakes Toby up, and then walking away smiling knowing that she was brought out of a sound sleep as she had done for me. These thoughts are soon released to one of feeling guilty for wanting revenge on such a poor creature. Later after getting dressed, I find myself walking over to my kitty and petting her gently, trying to forget what had just transpired. My next stop, after filling the cat’s dish, is to the coffee pot. Now my day has begun, albeit sooner than I expected.