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The Caterwaul

Lucy has a routine. And it goes like this.

Each night, around 10:30 to 11:30, she lets me know in no uncertain terms that it is Time To Feed The Cat ™

No. Uncertain. Terms.

This generally consists of me being head-butted, jabbed with claws, and palpably stared at. It's really rather surprising how much pressure a cat's stare can put on a person.

After—or occasionally before, if none of the pressure or bleeding get my attention—she heads upstairs to find her favorite toy: a little blue pillow, perhaps two inches square, stuffed with rayon batting, and which probably originally had catnip inside it.

She grabs this in her mouth and then starts calling around it. It's a very mournful, lonely sound. We aren't sure whether she "believes" or "thinks" this is a kitten or some prey animal she has killed. Either way, she must bring it into the room where I am and offer it unto me as . . . well, an offering, I suppose. (Etymology is fun.)

We (if my housemate is in the room with me) praise her and tell her what a good mother/hunter she is, we pet her, and generally stroke her feline ego with our limited primate understanding of whatever is going on in her pointed little head.

She then settles down into her nightly ritual of alternately ignoring me or pestering me to get into my lap. Sometimes both at the same time. (Cats are talented.)

When I head upstairs to bed, she follows me. And she watches me. Sometimes, I go right to bed. But often, I go to my home office and watch something on NetFlix. She lies near me, napping, if I do the latter.

Either way, when I head into the bathroom to begin my own evening ritual (flushing my eyes with warm water, brushing my teeth, flossing, putting ointment into my eyes, etc.), she heads out of my bedroom down to where she left the pillow. She retrieves it and brings it to me.

If she's feeling particularly nice (read: unfeline), she'll bring it to me while I'm still in the bathroom. If not, she waits until I'm comfortable under the covers with all the lights turned off . . . and then comes the plaintive cries of whatever-it-is. And I must get out of bed to touch her, or she will keep this up pretty much indefinitely.

Last night, we went through this usual ritual. It went on for an exceptionally long time, and I think I actually managed to fall asleep before she was satisfied that I had seen the pillow enough. (Note: Don't tell Lucy, but I see jack in the dark with ointment in my eyes. What she doesn't know . . . )

Suddenly (it seemed to me), I'm awakened by a sound. I look at the clock. 7:13 AM. Just 17 minutes before my alarm goes off. I roll over and burrow deeper into my pillow, thinking just how wonderful that extra 17 minutes is going to—

And then I hear it again, this time awake and partially conscious. It's a cat. And it's screaming. In 3/8ths of a flash, I'm out of bed, scrambling into clothing, and on my way down the stairs without taking time to wash the ointment out of my eyes. So I can see, but it's blurry. <Cue clip of Han Solo, fresh out of the Carbonite, saying, "I think my eyes are getting better. Instead of a big dark blur, I see a big bright blur.">

I listen for the awful screech again, trying to figure out if Lucy has gotten her head caught in something, or is maybe trapped somewhere bad (like the dryer or a closed toilet), or is hanging from her tail . . . you never know with cats.

My heart is thudding, I'm sweating cold bullets, and my hearing is hypersensitive.

There it is again: a screeching wail that I now recognize, since I'm within 30 feet of it, as a very, very angry cat. Growling low with infinite menace, then crescendoing into a frightening screech of hate, followed by a threatening hiss.

I follow the sound. I find Lucy, standing at the back door, fully fluffed out. Tail as big as a kielbasa. Fur standing on end in a ridge down her back. Ears thrown back. Mouth open in a rictus, fangs showing.

I said, "Lucy?"

And I got this back: "grrrrrrrrrrrOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWRRRRRRRRRR***YAAAAAARRRRRR***—meow?"

That last bit was said as she jumped and looked back over one shoulder at me just after I said, "Lucy?" It's the feline equivalent of "OH HI I DIDN'T SEE YOU STANDING THERE NOTHING TO SEE HERE NOTHING TO SEE MOVE ALONG HOW MUCH OF THAT DID YOU HEAR?"

I looked out the door where she had been standing whilst all this was going down and see a large, fuzzy calico cat sitting quite calmly on the patio, washing one foot, com-PLETE-ly ignoring the evil cat-beast who was convinced he was Adolph Kitler, Napawleon, and a bouncy Jerk Russell terrier puppy all rolled into one.

With her tail still fluffed out to full proportions, Lucy sauntered nonchalantly over to the food bowl to show me that it was no longer full. (Cats are binary creatures: bowls are either full or empty with them; one nibble out of a full bowl and it is then empty. Full bowls are required by the Catstitution.1)

I peeked out the window at the other cat and startled him enough that he leaped up my 8-foot wooden fence and scrambled over it into the neighbors' yard. All they have are hulking teenagers who smoke and drink in their driveway until the wee hours of the morning. Far less threatening than whatever hell-beast looked out the window. (Hi, that would be me.)

Lucy, of course, followed up with one last growl, which my Universal Translator said meant, "Yeah, and don't come back because there's MORE WHERE THAT CAME FROM!" She also added a little nasal snort which the translator said was a feline curse that has no English analogue, but the translator blushed.

I must note here that this is the first time I've ever heard/seen her react this way to another cat. My housemate (Yvonne) has a Siamese, and although we don't let them socialize, Lucy knows Zena is there and seems to have no problem with her existence, or indeed no problem when Zena is brought downstairs to spend a few minutes in my lap as a "reward" for demanding more attention than Yvonne is willing or able to give. In fact, Lucy patently ignores Zena. (Zena, on the other hand, generally disapproves of Lucy. And all other cats. And dogs. And most people.)

Anyway . . .

I de-emptified Lucy's bowl and went upstairs to crawl back into—

And the alarm went off.

Those 17 minutes of sleep would have been sooooooo awesome, too.

  1. The Catstitution was ratified, but then the cats ate all the rats. It's a tragic tail in our country's hisstory. You can read about it on Kitipedia.

Atheists Are People, Too  Antispam  


( 7 hisses — Hiss at me! )
(Deleted comment)
Jun. 3rd, 2012 04:14 pm (UTC)
Heard a new word today and thought of you:

Mesaphobia, n. The tendency to cover all horizontal surfaces with stuff.
Julie Chenell DeNeen
Jun. 18th, 2013 06:00 pm (UTC)
I agree - a cat's stare is alarmingly uncomfortable!
Jun. 18th, 2013 06:02 pm (UTC)
Especially when they want something. It's like they're trying to use mind control. :)
Jun. 18th, 2013 06:32 pm (UTC)
I do not let the cats anywhere near my bedroom. I used to close them up in a bathroom for the night when they were young. Wait, does this mean I'm a racist?
Jun. 18th, 2013 07:10 pm (UTC)
Re: Cats
Maybe speciesist? :)
Jun. 19th, 2013 05:05 pm (UTC)
Life with cats is definitely interesting and entertaining. :) Thank you for linking up with us at the Humor Me! Blog Hop!
( 7 hisses — Hiss at me! )

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