A lot of people look upon folks like me who do not have children as if we have it so easy… all the time in the world to work on ourselves and be as zen as possible. Like we wake up when we feel like it, do some meditation and maybe some yoga, calmly start our morning looking at the birds and the sunrise… and get ready for work.
Well, let me tell you about a typical morning, just like this morning, in my house…
Right now the weather finally broke enough to let some fresh air into the house and all the windows are open for the first time in about eight months. This in turn makes my animals go apeshit. Most of the house is closed up while we sleep except for the slider in our bedroom and the window to the other bedroom. This creates this wonderful cross breeze that is even more epic because there is a night blooming jasmine right outside the window in the front of the house that makes the whole back of the house smell wonderful. This makes my little black cat Albert lose his mind. Starting at about 4 AM.
Let me backtrack a second. I purposefully feed the two cats a small amount of food before we go to bed so that MAYBE they will relax throughout the night and let us sleep for five hours. The open windows prove that this is pointless. So roughly around 4 AM we get to hear a little jingle of a collar, which in my blissful unsuspecting dreams I imagine is money in my pocket… or fairies… Which is then followed by what is clearly the result of a large leap of his ten lb body from the floor onto the screen door to catch invisible geckos, which produces a crash of metal and screen of the slider right in our bedroom. If you have never been woken up by such a sound it is quite startling to say the least. It is a wonder either of us have not wet the bed at one point when this happens.
This continues to go on periodically, mixed with meowing and small mews and some yelling from my husband and I, for the next two hours until we finally get up out of bed. By that time the dog is completely restless licking his feet incessantly and yawning, flipping onto his back and kicking us as much as possible. Either myself or my husband takes the dog out to do his business and when we come back in both cats are howling and circling like sharks.
Just to refresh your memory, I have two cats and a dog. I have an old cat named Jimi who is 15, a small black cat named Albert who is 6, and a dog named Oscar who is just over 2 years old.
The howling is for food. I cannot leave cat food down on the floor 24 hours a day because the dog will eat it. Not to mention Albert has an eating disorder and he will continuously eat until he throws up. But I will get to that in a second.
It is still pitch black outside, the sun is not nearly ready to wake up and neither are we. The cats plan it this way, I am convinced. While trying to make coffee and wake up, both cats are in my small tight kitchen circling around my feet, screaming bloody murder, running back and forth and beating the shit out of each other. They do this periodically throughout the day, as I work from home. Demanding food when, should I give in for some peace and quiet, most of the time Jimi will not eat it anyway. If Jimi does not eat it, Albert is at his heals waiting in the wings to jump in and eat it. I will also get to that in a second.
In a daze of exhaustion, I make coffee with them screaming, howling, looking at me with their faces practically turning inside out while yelling, walking into me, running back-and-forth darting in front of my feet desperately trying to trip me. I get the coffee brewing and open up the windows in the rest of the house with them again darting in front of my feet trying to trip me. Screaming. Have I mentioned the screaming?
And then the real frenzy begins. As I gather their food bowls the screaming and pacing and darting rises to an epic peak. This gets the dog all wound up too. He starts pacing and whining as well. It is a chorus of screaming and whining and pacing and darting. I prepare the food and simply cannot put it down fast enough for them to relax in any possible way. It proves too much for them and the cats start spinning in circles screaming and still manage to dart in front of my feet, as if preventing me from putting the food down is a way of getting the food down faster.
I will never ever understand.
The food goes down and everyone starts to eat and for the first moment in the last four hours everything is quiet. Jimi eats very very VERY slowly. I usually put his food down first and he is always the last one still eating. He is old and has a little bit of cognitive failure where I think he THINKS he is hungry, but then loses interest in his food immediately. Albert is always there waiting for the opportunity to jump in and finish it for him. Albert, the small cat eats as if his life depends on it and wolfs down his food at an epic pace. This proves to be his biggest downfall.
The coffee is done, the animals are still eating and my husband and I finally sit after doing random chores like cleaning the litter box and taking it out to the trash before they pick it up early in the morning. But alas, it never fails it seems, that as soon as our asses hit the chairs, we hear the familiar sound of cat gagging. Albert has eaten too fast (there is a rock in his food dish that he must eat around in my attempt to try to make him eat slower). He will now throw up the entire contents of his stomach randomly around the house. The dog gets upset and tries to eat the puke, Jimi gets distracted and leaves an entire bowl of food that the dog will try to eat as well. Albert is roaming around the house puking in random spots, and we try to corral him so that he does not do it on furniture or rug or in the guest bedroom where we have someone staying with all of their clothes and things out for the puking.
My husband and I kind of have this dance down at this point. One of us plays referee and keeps the dog away from the puke while attempting to keep Jimi eating while also trying to push Albert onto the tile. The other grabs paper towels and disinfectant and starts to clean up the random piles of puke. Sometimes this happens after Jimi has already eaten his food or at least as much as he will eat. That is when the refereeing takes on a whole different level, adding the task of making sure he does not do any of his business in the house somewhere, like the carpet. It is a lot of protecting the carpet. Not because we care about the carpet but cleaning puke or poop off of carpet as opposed to tile is whole other level of Hell. You see Jimi is incontinent a lot of the time. I also think he does it territorially but that is a whole other matter. And it is not just relegated to urine. Let me tell you the smell of his poop could kill a small family. We go through incense in this house faster than an Indian temple. If we do not get to the poop fast enough the entire house will be become putrid with the smell of it. It is brutal.
Thankfully this time of the year the windows are open because when the house is all closed up with the air conditioning it is a whole other battle.
This is a typical morning. As I mentioned Jimi is old and incontinent. He also has some cognitive failure where he walks in circles and screams for no reason, or to simply let the entire house know he will be heading to the litter box any second. Maybe. This is typical of an older cat in decline. Add to that Albert who has a horrible eating disorder. He has a one track mind and is CONSTANTLY begging for food, scoping out the kitchen, trying to get into cabinets that have child locks on them because of this, and demanding food running back-and-forth in the kitchen at my feet ALL DAY LONG. I think this is a result of him being the runt of the litter and abandoned as a kitten. He has always done this. It is incredibly annoying. I cannot leave any food on the counter, especially bread products, chips, even bags of coffee. I cannot leave his food down for him in any capacity because he will continuously eat it until he throws up and then eat some more. He eats so fast that normally he throws it up anyway. Not only is this a waste of food but it also makes him ravenous all day long which heightens the crazy demanding of food all day long.
And then we have my lovely dog. Oscar does not seem to understand the word NO. So when one of the cats is puking he runs right for it. It becomes a battle of all wills to keep the frenzy under control. He is also having an issue with the windows open now as well because he has this intense fear of people and noises. We are desperately considering putting him on medication of some kind. Like doggie Prozac to kind of curb his fear and open his mind a little bit. As a lot of you long time readers will understand, after Cody I have a huge issue putting my dog on any kind of chemical. But this seems necessary and possibly another lesson for me. It is about HIS quality of life. He gets so freaked out by people and noises that his heart races and he visibly shakes.
Yesterday I was working at the kitchen counter and the dog was sleeping on the couch. I heard some people coming to the door to drop something on my doorstep and started to get up from my seat. As I stand up behind the kitchen counter stool, the dog hears the noise, leaps over the couch, and barrels straight into me knocking my feet out from under me and I fell backward HARD slamming onto the tile on my back. I have not been hit this hard since I worked at a YMCA camp in Hawaii and was playing flag football with a Samoan. That time my tied shoes flew off my feet, this time my leg slammed into the stool and I landed hard on my back and my butt. Completely dazed I had no idea how I had gotten onto the floor! I have a nice black and blue mark on my left cheek to prove it.
Oscar never looked back, he barked like a lunatic out the windows and had no idea what he had done. There’s no way to control him when he does this. As much as I appreciate the watchdog in him it becomes too much. His fear level is so high that he is shaking and there is no way to reach him or bring him back.
Anyway, that is a whole other post.
Never judge a book by it’s cover folks… Suffice it to say the whole point of this post is that being childless with animals does not mean that you have this carefree, wonderful, relaxed, restful, full life. Parents -count yourselves lucky that at least children grow up and start to learn behaviors that you have instilled in them and it gets easier.
Cats never learn.