We haven’t been getting much sleep lately, and it has nothing to do with our six month old.
No, we’ve been quite lucky that she has been sleeping, for the most part, through the night. Sometimes a need to nurse arises in the wee hours, but on the whole – she’s been great.
One of our little kitties however, has not.
It usually begins around 3:30 in the morning. Sometimes four.
Sometimes I try to ignore it, or my arm instinctively falls out of the sheets and down the side of the bed to pet his orange fur, hoping it’s just some attention and affection he’s looking for at these early morning hours. He takes the petting, of course, for a moment or two before turning around to walk away.
Though I wouldn’t call it a success as his battle plan then takes one of several paths – one is to scratch at the bed itself, always conveniently out of our reach, making one of us get up and out of bed to stop him.
Another tactic involves jumping onto my wife’s nightstand and knocking over any myriad of objects atop – a pile of books, a stack of magazines, remote controls, or her water bottle. It used to be a glass of water. We’ve learned that lesson time and time again.
If his plan involves my side of the bed, it means any number of magazine, books, or comics thrown with his back feet across the floor beside my bed, or knocking over any notepads, paper, etc, atop. He’s tried for my alarm clock, with a fifty-fifty shot at success, or the lamp. There’s nothing quite like being awakened by a table lamp, tall, slim in the middle giving it easy tipping ability, landing on your head as you sleep.
Now I should mention, this little guy has been a part of our family longer than either of our kids. In fact, we got him right before we got married, six years ago. And in those six years, he’s found a comfortable spot or two and slept right on through the night. Perhaps a little frisky fighting with his brothers now and then, but otherwise, it’s been dreamland for him. So it wasn’t always this way. In fact, it started just before our little girl was born six months ago.
When the petting did not get us anywhere, I thought that maybe his stomach was the one in the driver’s seat. So, I’d either guide him downstairs, or pick him up and carry him downstairs, setting him down in front of his bowl, always full of food, to remind him he has food there. He starts snacking, to which I then proceed back upstairs to fall asleep, only to have him wake me up about a half hour to 45 minutes later and we start the dance again.
Thinking it was his stomach, I began putting a dish of food in our room before we go to bed. Perhaps having it closer will help and put an end to this.
It hasn’t, and all it’s done is create the expectation that this extra dish will be there.
I should note, with the age and condition of our house, the doors to rooms do not close and latch like you’d find in most homes. That means that even if you close a door, it can with great ease be pushed open by a feline head. So, that option has been ruled out.
And rather than risk him waking Meg (although he sometimes still does), the baby, or our little guy, I continue to get up when he waltzes in at that 3:30-4 a.m. point every morning, and the intervals that follow.
At one point, I woke up in our hallway. I had lured him out of the room and downstairs only to have him come up again, and I fell asleep without making it back to the room.
I just can not fathom what exactly sparked this, and still, months later have not figured out what it is he wants. Petting, hugging, holding – he’ll have none of it in those wee morning hours. Food – a few bites then back at it.
At first I thought perhaps the Daylight Saving change in the fall/winter, but that disappeared in the spring to no change. Could it have been the baby? But this behavior started before she was born? And it didn’t happen when our son was born.
We’ve often wondered if there’s something neurological underlying within him. He was a pretty bad case when we found him. Curled up in the bushes, barely able to move, he lifted one paw up and placed it on my wife as she bent down near him, and our hearts melted. We scooped him up and took him home where he wouldn’t eat, drink or anything. Getting him to a vet, he stayed there for a week before we could take him home with us.
The doctor said had he been on his own a few more hours before we found him, he wouldn’t have made it. He was sick, beat-up, and barely had the ability to move, or even meow. He would try, but nothing would come out.
He was estimated at the time to be about a year or a year and a half by the vet, making him about 7 years old today, though we’ve always suspected he’s either older than their estimation or just lived enough life to seem that way.
Whatever they did at the vets that week, they brought him back from death’s door, and we couldn’t be more grateful. But being that close to the end, we’ve always accepted that his return came with a series of chronic health issues as a trade off. Many an issue that we’ve dealt with short-term, some long, but we’ve handled them.
Could this be among those issues? If so, why only surface now?
I have no idea.
All I know is that I love him, but man am I exhausted and befuddled as to what it is he wants. But, though many probably think of me as crazy, I will continue…because I love him.
Almost nine months ago, I poured my heart out after a frequent four-legged visitor to our backyard, whom Meg and I lovingly nicknamed “Monster” (for the extra toes that came with his Polydactyl nature) showed up again after one of his trademark absences, bloodied and injured.
Although we knew we couldn’t keep him with three feline sons of our own and one human baby running around, we got him into our basement, cleaned up the best Meg could and the next day, got him off to the Humane Society so he could get the help and care he needed. If you can’t tell from my original entry, my heart broke that day. Monster had been showing up in our yard shortly after we got our first cat, but he wouldn’t start showing love and affection until years later, following a lengthy disappearance. He really had become like our fourth cat, but was more like our equivalent of a barn cat, coming and going out of our detached garage, with me checking in on him before work each day, leaving behind food, blankets, some petting, whatever he would need to get through the times.
I figured it was time for an update on my buddy, Monster. Since that time, I have been making periodic trips to the Humane Society to check in on him, and wouldn’t you know it, he’s recognized me every time. While it’s made me sad that I couldn’t take him back with me, I learned quite a few things about him from the folks at the shelter.
First of all, he’s around 5-8 years old. And, his friendly demeanor, seems to be a permanent trait not just limited to me. I was frequently told as I’d visit that he became a sort of, unofficial greeter for all those entering the cat room at the shelter. He would meet them at the door, talk to them, show a little head-bunt love and show them around.
My trips continued whenever I could. I’d talk with him, pet him, tell him how glad I was that he was healthy again, and that, while I missed him terribly, this was going to lead to a nice new home for him.
I stopped by within the past few weeks for a visit, but things were different this time – he was no longer there.
I asked around and, while it took those almost nine months, our little Monster (his name changed once in the shelter, of course), has been adopted and given a home. I don’t know the details (it’s not the kind of thing they’d just release willy-nilly), but it’s a home. All those years of dodging dogs, cars and storms, looking for food or somewhere comfy to just rest are now gone. When I got home that day, I felt a twinge of sadness knowing that this now means I won’t ever see the little guy again, but it’s balanced out (or perhaps the scale is tipped quite heavily) with a feeling that my former garage-buddy can spend his remaining years being pet, keeping warm, and feeling the love of a household.
Shouldn’t they all get to feel that way?
Him getting the gift of a loving home after all that’s occurred is one of the greatest gifts I could be given.
Merry Christmas, little Monster, wherever you are, buddy. 🙂