Category Archives: Cats

Cat vs Christmas

Christmas Eve day, we got rain all day long instead of the promised snow. Rain, rain, a lot of rain. The problem with rain in the winter is that as the temperature goes down as the sun does and the rain that came down all day begins to freeze.

At 3 am, The Boy came to Hubby and I with the itching need to shovel snow. It’s his Zen activity. Out there in the cold, alone, with his headphones and music and no one to bother him as fluffy flakes fall peacefully around him. He keeps our driveway clear most of the time, and some of the neighbors as well. Since it was still snowing, and 3 am, we told The Boy to go back to bed and tackle it in the morning.

Wow, the morning.

The only snow day I had as a kid wasn’t because we got a lot of snow, which we did, the problem is that it drifted. Snow drifts covered doors and windows at the school, blocking them so the fire department closed school until the snow melted or blew away enough to keep the doors cleared. I mention it because looking out my back upstairs window demonstrated those neighbors aren’t using their back patios, doors, or some windows. It looked familiar.

The snow is deep enough that the two Yorkies at one house and four Chihuahuas at another won’t be using their backyards for their daily business. I’m mildly curious how their owners plan to handle that, but none of the solutions that come to mind encourage me to dwell on the problem.

So The Boy is out shoveling like the wind, before the wind blows it back, and watching neighbors’ SUVs get stuck as they try to leave for family outings. It reinforces the decision that we’re at home today. The Girl bundled up and went for a short walk. Apparently the snow is up to mid-thigh in some areas and, considering how long as she was gone, she didn’t get far.

As pretty as our winter wonderland is, a white Christmas isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be. Ask Darth Jingles. Note the return of her Sith name. “Jingles” is a bit too festive to describe the ball of dark malice pacing the house at the moment.

It’s not that I disagree that she has a reason to be upset, but the cat had a decent Christmas. She has her own Christmas tree on her kitty-condo. Yes, I decorated and balanced a four foot tree on the top platform of her play house. The top branches keep the tree balanced by keeping wedged against the ceiling. It has lights, and only a wide sparkly ribbon for to sniff. No breakable or potentially shreddable ornaments for the cat. Jingles wouldn’t eat them, she’s a picky eater.

That being said, she discovered a new kitty-treat. Sort of. I’m fond of salmon-shmear, but we were out of the brand I usually get at the bagel places and took a chance on Philly salmon cream cheese. Not that I’m spoiled, but I would rather have plain than take another bite of that stuff. The Boy likes it fine, however, and Jingles loves it. Seriously. She won’t drink milk or eat moist cat food. Salmon or salmon juice from a can isn’t happening, although drained tuna juice is a favorite. Cream cheese shouldn’t even be open for consideration, but Jingles will lick big globs of salmon cream cheese off The Boy’s fingers. Ew.

Courtesy of Christmas, Jingles also has new boxes of judgment placed all over the house. She’s tested them all, they’re appropriately judgy. Bits of paper, ribbons, and bows also serve as new toys for her amusement.

Because of yesterday’s rain, Jingles wasn’t outside long. I let her out early in the hopes she’d get some wiggles out in preparation of the forecasted storm. Mother Nature had other ideas, and clearly hates me. The Girl bowed to the cat’s incessant demands to be released to the elements this morning. Jingles sat patiently while The Girl put on the collar that grants her permission to be outside because she’s not naked, smacked the bells hanging from the knob, and launched as soon as the door opened. She got two feet.

Our entry is covered and sheltered, so the landing and top steps were clear. The good news ended there. Jingles usually races out the front door, bounds down the steps, and pauses at the corner of the walk and driveway. A small black cat stuck in snow up to her whiskers at the bottom step is an amusing sight. The Girl walked out in her slippers, plucked her from her frozen prison, carried her back to the family room, and snuggled her in a thick blanket in front of the fireplace. It dried Jingles, but didn’t improve her mood.

I have blinds and shutters thrown open all over the house so Darth Jingles can oversee her domain. It isn’t enough. She keeps hovering around the front door, so we open it and let her see for herself that the situation hasn’t improved.

We’ve taken turns playing with her. Earlier I heard the amusing warning from The Girl:

“Dad, I’m going to torment the cat, so she’s going to hate you.”

“Okay.”

Everything that is wrong with Darth Jingle’s world is laid on the shoulders of my husband. That said, he gives the best chin scratches, and she prefers his tuna-beverage to anyone else’s. He heats it slightly, adds just the right amount of water, and lightly salts it. I can’t duplicate his success. Jingles still hates him – demands tuna when he lingers in the kitchen, and will even rub up against his legs and meow, but hates him. I lost count of the bitter glares the cat’s cast Hubby’s direction today. The snow is clearly his fault. Also, the disappearance of her Boy to take on the snow issue is some sort of inconvenience for her and therefore also Hubby’s fault. It’s true Hubby picked up the wrapping paper, that’s legit. I picked the ribbons out of his bag and seemed to condemn his actions further in his eyes. Using the ribbons to play with her didn’t help.

The winter storm alert was extended from Sunday afternoon to Monday morning. Maybe Tuesday we’ll be able to kick the cat out and have some peace. Until then, I’ll grab another ribbon, some Neosporin and band aids, and go play with Darth Jingles some more. It’s my turn.

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10K, Tossing The Cat Out, & A Nap

There are a couple of days left in the NaNoWriMo challenge. I think this is the first Thanksgiving in years that I didn’t write at all, which sucked because I had to make up for it the day after and felt completely brain damaged by the attempt. I have almost 10,000 words left to write. It’s doable, but I’m not used to cutting it this close on my goals. It makes me uneasy, and that doesn’t help the creative process.

Another thing that doesn’t help the creative process is The Boy getting his driver’s license. Add to that his plans to add some pep to my old car that has been kept around for the kids, and I’m fit to be tied. I thought the car was fairly peppy before, so I shudder to think what he means by “add more pep” to it. Something I think I’d rather not dwell on.

Darth Jingles has taken on a couple new habits that caught my attention. She likes to sneak outside when The Boy heads off to school. Being a black cat, she hides well in the shadows and she has the sort of pep in her tail The Boy is probably shooting for in the car.
Generally, Jingles has her collar on, but The Girl likes to take it off when the cat comes in. It’s a treat and Jingles loves to be Ninja Cat without her bell on. Plus she enjoys her humans’ pets and scratches more when we can rub her neck for her too. Spoiled cat.

When Jingles goes out without her collar, lately she’s come back in within a couple of hours. Then begs to go out again. It’s like she realizes she’s “naked” and gets the cat version of self-conscious, prompting her to come home. Our cat is a prude.

That’s one new oddity. The second is now that the weather’s turning, and we have regular frosts and even light snows, she’s delaying her pleas to go out until the sun comes up and melts the frost. Really? She has a black fur coat but she’s waiting for that little temperature boost? This is particularly annoying to me because I get up to boot The Boy out the door, then I go huddle up in bed again and write or read. Having the cat interrupt me either when I’m furiously typing to document some transient inspiration, or at a really good point in my book, is really irritating. It’s never when I’m staring at a blank page and trying to figure out what to write. It’s never at the end of a chapter when I’m reading. And she never has figured out how to wait patiently for me to finish typing a sentence, let alone complete a thought.

To that end, if Jingles doesn’t leave the house with The Boy now, she gets booted to The Girl’s room. Or that was the plan as of a week ago because of my late start to the NaNoWriMo challenge. The problem with that popped up the day after I initiated the new policy: The Girl.

I mentioned Jingles isn’t patient when she wants something. Food, her collar, attention, whatever. Neither is The Girl. She came stomping into my room at something like 730 in the morning, upset that I shoved the cat in her room and Jingles woke her wanting out. My train of thought immediately derailed, inner peace escaping for hours to come.

Now cats can be trained to a certain extent, and people accept that there are some things that are simply beyond a cat’s ability to process. Appropriate hours to eat, sleep, and play, for example. I think most people are also of the opinion that an 18-year-old college student should be trainable, at least more than a cat. I assure you this isn’t necessarily the case.

Plan C was to simply close the doors on Jingles, mine and The Girl’s. This left her free to roam the house and if she really wanted outside, she could approach Hubby with her request. You’d think I beat her. Jingles wasn’t cool with this plan. It left her with Hubby and no witnesses. Sure, she had the entire house (minus two rooms) she could wander and hide in to avoid Hubby, but that’s not good enough. He’s in her house and she doesn’t have anyone to cater to her. She could walk up and meow at him. He’s pretty fluid in bratty cat and would understand the request. No, it doesn’t work like that in her walnut-brain. Her interaction is with her family, not the “Great Furry One” and she won’t budge on that edict.

We like to imagine Jingles styles hubby “The Great Furry One” because he has an enviable beard and an even more enviable ponytail. Seriously, it’s sickeningly thick with almost perfect waves. One of The Girl’s friends calls him Fabio.

Moving on, I think the biggest relief from the end of the month won’t be the end of NaNoWriMo, it’ll be the end of the battle with Jingles. She gets a little, um, bitchy when she doesn’t get her way. I know that’s technically a canine term, but it applies to this particular feline. Also, then I’ll have time (in theory) to start Christmas decorations.

First, another 10,000 words. Then a nap.

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National Cat Day

National cat day! We love our cat.

We mostly love our cat.

You know what I’d love even more? For someone to invent a cat-remote.

This is not a remote for cats to use, it’d be a remote to use on cats. I’d like a button for “no paw prints on the car,” “hairballs excreted outside or in litterbox only,” “you have four scratching posts, nothing else is acceptable,” “don’t climb/jump on ____” (this would need to be customized, but I’d like this available as several different buttons please), and “don’t fight with ____” (again, needs customization and needs to be available on multiple buttons for some households). Maybe a “don’t eat ___” for homes with prey-type pets or delicious plants. Jingles is self-trained, but I bet a lot of cat owners would love a button for “don’t bring kills home,” “don’t hunt birds,” or some other options. “Rodents only” maybe. Remember, “hunting” does not equate to “eating” for many cats. Since most cans have pull-tabs now, cats aren’t trained to come when they hear an electric can-opener anymore. It doesn’t matter because I don’t know anyone who has one. A “search” or “find” feature might be useful here, or some other way to program your cat to come when called. Heavens knows mine never have. It’s a new use for a “home” button.

Oh, volume buttons would be lovely but we can skip “mute” because we love our feline friends and don’t want to be cruel.

Very important would be a timer feature for “lovies.” You know that super cute snuggle time when a cat purrs almost non-stop and seems to be dead set on pressing her face through yours? Yeah, I’d like to restrict that to waking hours. Human waking hours. Along those lines, can we have a simple “claws retracted” button for when they do that kneading thing? It’s super cute on a blanket, but considerably less so on a sweater that you’re currently wearing. It’s more than a convenience, it’s a safety issue.

I’d also like the option, even for an upgraded price, to map out where on a human a cat is permitted to walk when climbing over us. Jingles brought this feline tendency to my attention again this morning, somewhere around 630 am. Normally I don’t sleep on my back. There are reasons, not the least of these is my loving cat’s uncanny ability to walk up me and put her paws in all the wrong places. I’m sure men are crossing legs in a fit of subconscious discomfort. It’s no less an issue for women, The Girl has the exact same complaint. Jingles (and Nimoy too while she was still with us) consistently sits on the rib cage and places at least one paw directly on a nipple. I’m not sure how a two to four pound cat can place twenty pounds of pressure on one square inch, but she manages. I’m also not sure how she never misses. My daughter is petite, and not to be crude, but Jingles has about a one in nine chance of hitting the nipple there. I’m guessing. I’m somewhat more endowed. A greater breast surface area should mean the odds are more in my favor. The Girl and I agree the laws of physics and statistics are broken when considering this problem. If an option to map out “no walk” areas on a body isn’t going to happen, can I at least request some sort of malicious sitting weight limit? This is another safety issue, for both me and the cat. One of these days she may go flying.

A choice of modes would be convenient also. Jingles comes with two main modes: housecat, and feral. If she’s inside or on the porch and it’s nasty weather, cold, or late, then she’s in housecat mode and you can pick her up and treat her accordingly. Feral mode means you can’t touch her and she will ruthlessly torment or hunt anything she sees. Feral Jingles teases us by calmly wandering toward us while we’re outside, then turning and running like hell at the last minute before she’s in reach. Or go racing by as if to say “you’re a pathetic human and can’t match my swiftness and agility” when we appear outside of our own yard. Not that I mind feral mode, it’s fine and keeps Jingles from getting extremely antsy in the middle of the night, but I’d like some input. Like when we’re leaving the house and won’t be home until late, or know it’s likely to start raining while we’re gone. I’d like to be able to override the feral setting and return her to housecat mode. I promise not to abuse the privilege.

I won’t ask for on/off, that’s taking it too far. We’re talking about cats; 90% of the time they’re off anyway and if you can’t take it that the remaining 10% of the time without fail is inconvenient to your schedule, you need to cowboy up. Having parameters for “play time with humans” hours might be acceptable. Incorporate a customizable night mode maybe. Something that let’s us (between 10 pm and 6 am) uncheck “play with children,” “sing,” and “race helter-skelter through the house.”

Remembering Princess, our fat Siamese of seemingly long ago, The Girl suggested some sort of food amount or type limit. Considering the same cat, then Nimoy, I’d like some sort of “Alpha-cat” designator so we don’t have to deal with them fighting about it. It’s not about who’s most loved, just better suited to the role. Some cats are good rulers – patient and forgiving to their subjects regardless of species, age, gender, or size; others are brats.

Naturally it’s important to have a “restore original settings” option, but I suggest a two-step confirmation process. Something that requires thumbs.

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Chocolate Mint vs Jingles

Jingles is part of that 20-30% of cats that are immune to catnip. We didn’t think to test Nimoy before she took off, so when/if we can get her furry little butt back, I’ll toss her in a bush of catnip. She’s already borderline insane, I can’t wait to see what she’d be like high. Anyway, while Jingles doesn’t care for catnip, and The Girl has grown chocolate mint and spearmint in the garden for years, this last week Darth Jingles suddenly noticed the mint. Sort of.

The Girl has sprigs of mint growing in pretty little bottles to pass on to friends. These are chocolate mint, if you care at all. Also, catnip is in the mint family. I imagine you see what’s coming.

She had them in her bathroom window, up out of the way where no cat ventures so they weren’t an issue. But one rainy night when Jingles was in her room comforting her with cat-like reassurances that she doesn’t need another cat and we should just stop looking for the one we lost, The Girl had her mint in her window for some undisclosed reason. It probably had something to do with her brother.

Anyway, this cat walks by and through the chocolate mint in my front flower beds nearly every day without paying attention. Celery (our adopted stray) does too – no notice of it, other than a passing appreciation perhaps that it’s a decent place to hide. By the way, mint is advertised as a great ground cover. Why yes, it is! It also covers the lawn and the chocolate mint has launched an attack on the juniper that used to be nearly two feet away.

Back to the other night. Jingles wanted to look out the window and brushed against the mint. I should mention the mint barely has any smell until you touch it. Touching it is what releases the scent, and wow!. This plant engages in chemical warfare. So when Jingles brushed up against a tender sprouted leaf – the young plant released a puff of a sort of mint smell. (Other people say it smells like mint, I personally think chocolate mint smells a bit like a nice strain of marijuana, but that’s me. Wishful thinking perhaps.)

Back to Jingles. She brushed against the mint, stopped, sniffed, squinted, sniffed more, brushed against it again, sniffed again, and settled down to make herself comfortable by her new best friend. The Girl was in giggles when evil kitty wrapped a protective paw around the bottle and nuzzled the plant. The giggles ceased with the experimental nip. Not that it mattered, Jingles isn’t a vegetarian and this didn’t change her opinion on the subject. One nip was enough to satisfy her curiosity and she resumed the occasional whisker-brush to keep the scent coming.

I don’t know how much scent one small cutting can produce, but The Girl rotated through her cuttings so each had a chance to be fondled by her cat. It wasn’t so they’d keep producing the aroma for Jingles, she just wanted to be able to tell her friends when she presented them with their new little plants that each had been personally approved by pure feline evil. Now we have to hold each up to the idiot cat for some attention and hope they survive. I can totally see Nimoy eating them. I suspect The Girl had the same thought because the mint bottles are back in her bathroom window – with the bromeliad – out of sight/reach while we wait for the return of the little idiot who took off a few weeks ago. The Girl is content to keep Pokemon-ing and looking for the missing feline. Maybe she should take a sprig of mint with her.

How catnip gets cats high:

http://www.seeker.com/how-catnip-gets-cats-high-1792496502.html

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Nimoy is MIA

A little over a week ago we had a mishap. It started innocently enough, The Girl went Pokemon Go -ing (I assume I’m allowed to make that a verb by now) and took a gym. I know, who cares? Well, she took the gym from a pair of 13-year-old boys, who turned around and took it back – killing her Pokemon in the process. This shouldn’t matter. She’s five years older, and more mature anyway. But it’s apparently a Pokemon thing, so it mattered. She went back out right after coming home and retook the gym again, killing the offending Pokemon in return. Whatever. The same scenario repeated with another trainer The Girl didn’t have anything strong enough to take on the next day and she lost. So the following day, last Tuesday, when she went out Pokemon-ing, she put a harness on Nimoy (who is getting a little chubby and could use the exercise the game is designed for) and took her kitten for a walk. I gather she decided she needed moral support for her venture this time.

Nimoy is not nearly as enamored with Pokemon Go as The Girl is, let’s just get that little factoid out in the open right up front. Neither is Jingles, but Jingles is an active cat, so The Girl doesn’t feel the need to take her for walks to enforce an exercise regime on her. Also, Jingles dislikes her harness and leash, but long ago learned there was little point to fighting it. Nimoy isn’t that smart.

I’m going to take a moment to enlighten non-cat owners on the subject of cats and leashes. Yes, you can walk a cat on a leash. Unless you train them to accept this form of torture from kittenhood – early kittenhood – it’s more trouble than it’s worth. You also can’t just clip a leash on a collar, they’ll squirm right out of it and take off like a bat out of hell. No, you have to get a harness, like for ferrets. And it may seem cruel, but cinch that harness down pretty snug because cats are slightly more slippery than most people give them credit for. Even the extra furry ones.

The first time you put a harness on a cat/kitten, they tend to fall over as if you’ve just broken their back. Honestly, a harness doesn’t weigh eight hundred pounds, but you’d never know by watching a cat. Don’t cave in. If you take the harness off, they win. If you  walk away and leave them lying there, (view it as a sort of work-in-progress of “Beaten Cat Performance Art”) eventually they get tired of not having an audience and low crawl away. Also, cats have fairly short attention spans and – hey, there was that speck of dust that floated by….

The point is that they’ll get used to the harness. Then you’ll repeat the process when you add the leash. Then start over again when you’re holding one end of the leash. The look of indignation on Jingle’s face when she realized we expected to lead was priceless. We’ve since learned our lesson. She leads and we just sort of stop following if we disagree with her chosen direction. We stand there while she tugs on the leash and allow her to change her mind then resume following her in our acceptably submissive manner.

Nimoy was a whole other matter. The Girl was still doing the “gently tugging her along” thing. Most of Nimoy’s experience with her harness and leash wasn’t for going for walks, it was to allow The Girl (occasionally me or Hubby) to hold her with confidence she wouldn’t run off. I suspect, since Nimoy doesn’t actually care for being outside, that it was more of a comfort for her than us – you know, that we wouldn’t run off because she was attached to us. At least I always suspected that was how Nimoy saw it. It was her security blanket. Leave it to The Girl to prove me wrong.

So The Girl and idiot cat went for a walk. We got a frantic call that the cat slipped her harness and disappeared. Why? Was she scared off by a virtual Pokemon? It wouldn’t have surprised me, but no. It was the garbage truck. Something any of us should have been able to predict. Great. The cat wasn’t the idiot this time around, it was us.

The scene of the crime was only a couple of streets over, so Hubby made The Boy put actual clothes back on. (The Boy comes home from school and get straight into an old t-shirt and threadbare sweats from maybe five years ago because they’re comfy. They’re also rags and he’s not allowed to leave the house in them.) Hubby drove around, The Boy and Girl walked opposite directions, and I circled our cul-de-sac, all calling for Nimoy. I caught every neighbor. The Girl caught Jingles. The Boy caught a bad attitude, which caught Hubby’s attention. No one caught Nimoy.

Side note: since she was wearing a harness, she wasn’t wearing her collar. I assumed she was chipped, but after checking two days later at the animal shelter, they looked up her file and told me she wasn’t. How they managed to charge me for every other imaginable thing on a two-page long checklist and miss that is beyond me, but there you have it. The Girl began to panic in earnest at that point and printed out pictures of her generic tabby. Now her walks are to make sure signs are still up. I can see this going well.

nimoy

Here’s a picture of a cat with no distinctive markings. She’s a really fluffy tabby that doesn’t answer to anything in particular, although we like to call her Nimoy. Hobbies include eating, sleeping all day, unrolling balls of yarn, and walking across your face at 3 am. Also, she’s paranoid about bath tubs but jumps in the toilet, and doesn’t get along with other cats or kids. Don’t try to adopt her because she’s litter-box trained in theory, but occasionally misses. She’s not graceful, so if a cat meeting this rough description falls off your car, fence, or roof, it’s probably ours and most of the house would like her back.

 

 

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Midnight Madness

Let me tell you about Friday morning. Hubby wakes at midnight after hearing a crash. I sleep with earplugs, and a face-mask softly blowing air at me, so I don’t hear anything, including him jumping out of bed like I did something obscene to him.

He quietly listens to the house for signs of trouble or an intruder. Nothing.

Nimoy is immediately suspect, but she’s groggily looking at him from her place between our knees. For the moment, the kitten is off the hook.

Analyzing his memory of the sound, he thinks it sounds like glass breaking plus something else. Some sort of impact. And he can’t tell if it came from inside or outside. It’s a beautiful and cool night so our bedroom windows are open. He looks and doesn’t see anything.

Getting what passes for dressed at midnight, Hubby checks on both kids, they’re asleep. Jingles is awake but on the foot of The Girl’s bed where she frequently is when home at night. She always wakes when we check on the kids.

He wanders the house: checking all windows, doors, and closets – just because. Nothing.

Hubby goes outside and walks around the house. Nothing. He looks over neighbor’s fences – nothing.

Giving it up as a hallucination, Hubby comes back to bed.

Fast forward to four in the morning. The Boy tiptoes into our room, wakes Hubby, and informs him of some problem. He sits up.

Now I didn’t wake before with all Hubby’s activity, but the Motherhood-sense that something is amiss jars me fully awake. We follow The Boy back to his room. He woke to play an early round of video gaming with friends and discovered the splintered shards of a Corelle plate scattered about his room. They’re tough table settings, but when they do break, it’s like a war zone.

Hubby recognized the incident immediately. When he checked on The Boy, he left the bedroom and hall light off, and had to walk in to the darkened room to make sure the lanky teen was in fact in his bed. He’s so skinny he kind of blends into the sheets and pillows. It’s a miracle Hubby didn’t step on any of the microscopic (or larger) glass shards between the door and the bed.

So we figured Jingles, who likes to sleep on The Boy’s top bunk – in fact it’s hers, must have either used the freestanding shelves that are part of The Boy’s desk to jump to or from her top bunk perch and knocked the plate off that The Boy shouldn’t have had in there in the first place and it broke upon hitting the main desk surface in almost the exact center of the room. Thankfully the plate was empty. Unfortunately he had a box fan on in his corner so the smaller particles got widely distributed. I found tiny bits of Corelle from the wall behind his door to his closet doors, bed to the bookshelves under his window – in short, everywhere.

Yes, I vacuumed my son’s room at four am. Then he got out an edge vacuum and crawled around on his knees to cover the perimeter of the room. Hubby collected the big pieces, then had a handheld vacuum and sucked sparkling Corelle confetti from The Boy’s keyboard and behind his monitors. Thanks to the fan for that one we think.

The Boy really likes darkness when he sleeps, so he has a blanket hung from the top bunk to seal in his bottom bunk. We had to vacuum that then pull it down, but it meant his bed was protected. Like it matters, I need to change his sheets anyway.

Meanwhile The Girl gets up to see what all the activity is about. She insists it couldn’t have been Jingles (still snuggled at the foot of her bed) because she’d been in her room all night. Ah hem, not all night. No, Jingles started with The Boy. We guessed the broken plate startled the cat and she took off for safer sleeping places.

The really interesting part is the breaking plate woke Hubby, two rooms away with a gentle breeze upsetting our blinds and faint noises of the neighborhood outside to provide ambient cover, but failed to wake The Boy sleeping four feet away. It’s not surprising, the kid can sleep through anything (fire alarm going off two feet from his head when he was little and had the top bunk – not kidding; plus his alarm clock every single school day) but it is interesting. It means I’m going to have to continue getting him up for school this year. Oh, goodie.

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Halp! I Can’t Sleep!

Let us skip back in time a bit, to when I made the mistake of mentioning to my Neurologist Physician’s Assistant on a routine checkup that I’d been feeling fatigued for some time. I wasn’t worried about it, between my Multiple Sclerosis and all the drugs I’m taking for one thing or another because of my Multiple Sclerosis, the cause of the fatigue didn’t seem like a big mystery. It was just annoying and I would prefer it gone. Walk up the stairs, have to rest for an hour, down the stairs, rest for an hour, do the dishes – that wiped me out for a couple hours. A doctor’s appointment? Crap, Hubby has to help me up the stairs and I’m useless the rest of the day. Just fix it!

Sleep study.

What? No! I sleep.

Yeah. Apparently I don’t do it right. I’ve been doing it all my life – almost every night in fact. But I don’t do it right. Really? I used to be able to sleep off anything. It amazed Hubby when we got married. We both get a cold. I sleep for twelve hours straight – cured. He suffered for two more days. Life turns to crap – I sleep for extra few hours for a few days, shrug it off. He takes anti depressants. Of course now we know I have an immune system that can kick anything’s butt and I’m not prone to chronic or serious depression, but it seemed like sleep was my cure-all at the time. Shows you the power of circumstantial evidence.

Anyway, so they decide on the fall-back diagnosis of sleep apnea. Really? I sort of suspect they decide that when they can’t figure out what else it is. Hubby has sleep apnea. I hear him stop breathing and kick him. He listened to me when we were trying to figure out if I simply wasn’t getting a restful night’s sleep and didn’t notice anything. He’s an insomniac so staying up to listen to be breathe wasn’t much of a hardship. I also don’t snore often, so it wasn’t that. The diagnosis took both of us by surprise.

Fine. So I got a stupid little machine that everyone promised would fix everything. This is the part where my life went to hell.

First, let me say I went through this vicariously with Hubby. He confirmed that he did get more restful sleep with his little machine. He also warned it would take getting used to. A week or maybe two. Second, insurance wants to make sure I give the devil’s own instrument of torture a fair shake because they made me sign a contract in blood. Okay ink. I have to sleep at least four hours every night, at least 80% of the days each month for three months, plus I have to have follow-up doctor appoint regarding the machine from hell, plus I have to follow the doctor’s and manufacturer’s directions on device. Failure to comply means I will be billed for the entire setup.

Okay then. I should mention this thing has a cellular connection, and I have a good signal in my bedroom from Verizon Wireless, so I assume they’re getting feedback on everything I do with this stupid thing. I don’t know what network it’s connected to, but if Verizon has a signal here, I’m confident AT&T does as well. Damn it. I should also mention this thing has sensors so just wearing it doesn’t count. It knows when I’m asleep and adjusts the airflow accordingly. Nice and soft when I’m awake and trying to fall asleep, then it ramps up to a ‘smack me in the face’ level where I wake up with the immediate impression I’ve stumbled into a tornado.

Sometimes I do the insomnia thing and I stay up most of the night writing or whatever. When I’m tired, however, I can normally lie down, close my eyes, and be asleep in twenty minutes. Hubby is irritated and jealous. I can sleep for eight hours. Longer if I’m not feeling well. If I’m hurting, my body recognizes I’d rather not be awake just now and so I’m not.

Fine, so I have an evil machine by my bed. Hubby too, but he doesn’t count. Let me explain.

Nimoy sleeps with Hubby and I more often than her girl, which is annoying because we got Nimoy for The Girl! Jingles tends to favor The Boy, and The Girl really wanted a cat of her own. So I got a cat. The Girl is seriously doubting her future as a crazy cat lady.

When sleeping with me, Nimoy tended to prefer my pillow. She’d stretch out above my head and proceed to radiate heat so I woke up with my head sweating and itchy. Isn’t that sweet? Add face mask attached to by nightstand by a big tube and a steady stream of air blowing out the little holes toward wherever I faced. Nimoy wasn’t happy about the change, but she shifted her spot and dealt with it. Now she sleeps on a pillow between Hubby and I, stretches out sideways and tries to push us both off the bed.

Jingles is another matter. When she’s in, she likes to come up and sleep on “her” pillow, positioned between mine and the edge of the bed, held in place by the nightstand, and have a short cat nap/mom time before waking me and asking to be let out. The anti-apnea contraption does not please her.

I made sure the tube ran under her pillow, acknowledging in advance my little black cat wouldn’t care to sleep with it. That wasn’t enough. She doesn’t like face-huggers on my face in the night.

I should point out that the cats have seen Alien. The entire series. I know this because The Boy has a video game based on it and watched the whole series with Hubby and I not long ago. He’s also watched the first two on his own a few times. Jingles knows what an alien face-hugger is, and was deeply disturbed to find me with one.

Her answer to the alien menace? Get it off mom!

Yes, I woke at an unpleasant hour one morning to find Jingles stretched out on my pillow above me in Nimoy’s place. She had her back feet planted against my annoying mask and was pushing it off my face!

On one hand, smart cat. On the other hand, it was really annoying.

I reached over and turned the little machine off, and removed the mask. Mission accomplished, Jingles requested I let her outside. I was up anyway, so I complied.

She didn’t come in the next night, but the night after she was back (rain does that) and I woke again to the same mask-attack from my cat. Reluctant to ‘reward’ her behavior this time, I rolled over and tried to go back to sleep.

I should mention since wearing the stupid little mask that is supposed to help me sleep better, it now takes upwards of an hour for me to fall asleep, I don’t stay asleep, and I feel less rested when I get up. This is contrary to what everyone assured me. So when Jingles started waking me early, I was understandably annoyed. I couldn’t always just remove the mask because that would provide the wrong feedback for the cat. It’s a “who’s training who?” situation. Also, I have to get four hours of sleep registered on the little machine, and that’s hard sometimes. It’s never in a solid block so I’m grateful that wasn’t a requirement. I can’t just get up, I have to go back to sleep and try to get another hour of actual sleep per my insurance company.

Rolling over didn’t phase Jingles. Now I was in reach of her front paws. After being whapped in the face a few times as she explored the gadget, she sunk her claws into the straps and pulled.

Are you kidding me?

Get up, turn the machine off, take the mask off, let the cat out.

We used to sleep with our door closed to keep Jingles from beating up Nimoy in the middle of the night. As it turns out, a cat fight on your bed at 3am is also disruptive to a decent night’s sleep. Huh. But Nimoy and Jingles have been doing much better and we’re able to leave our door open to let them roam. This is partially in the hope Nimoy will return to The Girl’s room. (She used to start there – with the door closed to keep her in – then around 1am she’d wake up The Girl, drive her batty, and my darling daughter would take her in and dump her cat with us and close her in.) Nimoy hadn’t been sleeping with her girl, but there’s always hope.

Hope is dashed. Nimoy will have to just sleep with us because I’m not leaving the door open for Jingles. Not if she’s going to attack my sleeping accessories in the wee morning hours.

And what has Nimoy been doing while I fend off her dark companion? She snuggles closer to Hubby and doesn’t even wake up. The whole mess is beneath her notice.

Bratty cats.

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