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February 22, 2005

Not much going on, at this point ...

But I have a few minutes, thought I'd just drop an entry in.

The ebb and flow of which cat is where is kind of a funny thing. When I wake up in the mornings, Tink and Gord usually are somewhere in the bedroom. Sometimes Doodle and Squeek, as well, but not always -- sometimes one or both of them will be in a window in another room.

Gord commences to whining about food the moment he senses I'm awake. I suppose I should consider myself lucky he doesn't start before he thinks I'm awake, though I think the reason he doesn't is because I shove him off the bed. The next best thing to food, for Gord, is a warm spot -- he knows whining forfeits that, so he holds back at least that long.

Tink heads immediately for the bathroom where, while I'm making my morning stop, she will prance around so I can pay my respects, usually walking under my legs at least once, flicking herself back and forth along the edge of the bath tub right under my nose (it's a tiny bathroom for a master bath; I didn't design the house), then licking the plastic bag for the extra rolls of toilet paper, if they're still in it. The licking of bags is Tink's way of telling us she's hungry. She'll do it at night, if I haven't shown signs of going to bed soon enough for her after Tony's gone to bed; sometimes she wakes us up with it if we've left a plastic bag on the bedroom floor.

Tony gets up way before I do, gets his shower, then lies down on the futon in the front room for a nap most mornings. Doodle almost always camps on him there.

Once I'm up and moving around, everybody shows up in the kitchen for food, of course. Even if Doodle and Squeek don't want it especially, they'll show up. Doodle eats on the divider (I don't give her very much -- she yaks it back up, if I do), Gord and Tink on the floor on either side of the filtered water bowl, Squeek wherever -- right now, it's on top of our Coleman cooler. She likes to stand on something to eat, and she won't eat out of a bowl -- the food is scattered on top of the cooler for her. She's never eaten kibble out of a bowl the whole time she's been here. She won't do it.

As soon as they're done eating, I let Max out of his crate (Tink won't eat if he's loose) and the cats retire to either the windows or the family room, where the door to the run is. It's been fairly warm the past week, so most mornings as soon as I get downstairs, I open the run and they all wander out for a few minutes, then in, then out. That's the reason, more than any concern I might have for them, that I don't open it when it's colder out. They fan the door so much they create an arctic microclimate right next to my computer.

Mostly, Gord and Doodle and Squeek go out, though Tink frequently makes one pass and then settles in somewhere warm elsewhere in the house -- most often, the back of the futon in the living room, where she can see out the front window.

Squeek and Doodle take turns soliciting food all morning, when I'm at the computer. If they can get into the run, that's the cycle -- beg for food, go outside and wander around until their feet are wet, come back in, flop down somewhere, get up, go outside, beg for food ... lather, rinse, repeat.

Tink frequently hangs on the periphery in any room the humans are in. She always did, from the time we went on our honeymoon and left her with the MIL on. I think she felt betrayed. The MIL fed her and came around, but she wouldn't have known all the interactive games we played and probably wouldn't have catered to Tink's obsessive-compulsive need to play those games for, oh, say a half-hour or forty-five minutes. In the townhouse in Clermont County, Tink used to love to have toys thrown up into the stairwell. She'd chase them up, then bat them back down the stairs until they landed at the bottom, at which point we pitched them up the stairwell again. Once we moved into the house, she started playing fetch -- she did that until we brought Doodle home, because Doodle thought she could get into the act, too, but she didn't have the smarts to bring the toys back. She'd just carry them off somewhere else. Tink quit playing, though once in a while if she's the only one upstairs and you throw a mouse or a cork down the length of the living room, she'll still follow and bring it back once. After that, she remembers we ruined her life by bringing other cats into the house and goes off to sulk.

At any given time of day or night, if we can't find Squeek, she'll have buried herself in what I had thought to be the single most unsuccessful cat bed ever made. I made it by hand, it's a structural foam box with one side open; the outside is covered in heavy flannel, the inside in polar fleece. None of the cats ever wanted anything much to do with it -- it's too small for everybody but Doodle, and I don't think Doodle liked having her view restricted in a house with three other cats in it.

When we first brought Squeek home, the thing already had been remaindered under my desk. Imagine my surprise when, one night, I looked down and saw a pair of eyes shining out of it. We tried moving it out into the room again, but she'd have nothing to do with it unless it was buried somewhere, barely accessible and you couldn't tell she was in it. It now resides under the coffee table at one end of the family room, just behind the laundry room door. Any time we can't find her anywhere else, that's where she is.

Doodle and Squeek both like to get into the cabinets in the kitchen, too. It's not that they're looking for anything -- they like to get under things, and the bottom shelves of the glassware cabinet under the divider between the kitchen and the dining room are perfectly spaced for a small cat. If we're not careful to close the doors completely, one of them (usually Doodle) crawls in there and goes to sleep. More than once we've had to look all over the house for her before going away for the day or going to bed, because she'll be trapped in there.

The worst part with both Squeek and Doodle getting shut up in places is that neither of them can muster up a decent 'meow' unless she's really ticked off. Squeek yowls like a banshee when Gord picks on her, and they both holler like they're on fire when we pick them up to clip their claws.

Sometimes, I find Gord lying under the barstools upstairs, in the dining room. There's a heat register in the dining room about a foot and a half off the floor that blows directly on the floor. He'll park his butt right in front of it and go to sleep for several hours.

Other favorite spots are the futon by the picture window in the front room, the spare bed in the second bedroom (Doodle and Tink, especially, like to kip there), the cat furniture in the family room, the leather sofa there (if there's a blanket on it) and some odder places. Squeek sometimes crawls under the bed with the dog to snooze. She couldn't care less about him, she doesn't curl up next to him, I don't think -- she just parks herself somewhere else under there.

Oddly enough, we seldom find any of them on our bed if we're not in it. The dog sleeps under there during the day, but even before we got Max nobody much used it. They prefer the second bedroom. There are litter boxes in there, that may be the reason; the headboard of the bed heaves right up under the windows in that room, so that may also give preference to that one. They do like to sleep on a cardboard storage box I put on top of my tall dresser. I threw a towel over it for them, since they've now identified it as a sleeping place. You really can't fight it, and frankly I can't see what harm it does. The only place any of them prefers that's inconvenient is Doodle and the glassware cabinet, and it's more a problem of her getting shut in there and not being able to make enough noise to get somebody to let her out than anything else.

At night, Tony usually goes to bed twenty minutes or so earlier than I do. When he crawls in bed, usually one or both of the torties joins him. Doodle will, on occasion, assert her right as a higher member of the hierarchy and boot Squeek off the bed, though if we go to bed at the same time she's less likely to do it, I guess because she gets Tony and doesn't care if I pay attention to Squeek. As long as Squeek doesn't 'horn in' on her attention, she's okay.

Lately, if I come to bed and try to read for a while, as often as not Squeek climbs up on the bed, walks across the pillow between my face and the book, then camps on Tony's pillow by his head until I turn the light off. I have to lie on my stomach to read because, you see, Tink sometimes heaves herself up on the bed for the night before I kill the light. If I'm not in the position I want to be while I sleep, she'll plant herself somewhere inconvenient for me -- so I have to hang a leg out from under the covers, or cross my legs on the bed, or somehow contort myself around her. I've been doing it so long -- she's done this off and on since she was a kitten, though she used to let you move under the covers and would just get up and resettle. Now, she'll grunt, flop around and generally express her annoyance or else make a great show of hopping off the bed in a huff.

It's the only time Tink goes out of her way to be right there with us, so I try not to discourage her from doing it. I think that was the reason she had problems with us leaving the dog out overnight. He'd crawl under the bed, and she wouldn't come sleep with us. She just doesn't trust him, I guess. Considering she was five years old before we wedged the dog into the household, and that she's pretty finicky about having things changed (at one point I went from working part-time to full-time, and that was when the occasional turd on the floor started appearing in the downstairs bathroom, where we keep the other litter boxes), I suppose we're fortunate we can compromise enough to suit her. The dog sleeps in his crate overnight, and she's okay with that.

Well, that's not the only reason we crate him, actually. The last thing you need when you're logy in the morning is an overexcited dog getting in your face. I found that out the hard way. He scratched my cornea once, which sent us to an urgent care waiting room full of flu victims who inadvertently shared the wealth with both of us, and ruined one entire Christmas break for both Tony and me.

Gord also likes to kip between Tony's tall dresser and mine. There's a heat register under Tony's dresser with a plastic directioner on it; it puts his butt right in the heat flow. All of them also will sleep on anything left on the floor in the bedroom -- clothing, mostly. Gord went through a phase of liking to wallow on my underpants, but he seems to have gotten over that. I don't think there was anything to it but that the fabric was soft -- he likes that more than the other cats do.

I ruined Gord's life for a while, a couple of weeks ago, when I went from a CRT monitor to a flatscreen. Though I put a box on my desk behind the flatscreen, where he used to sit, he won't sit on it. The CRT monitor housing was warm, you see, and Gord's a big heat sink. Fortunately, unlike Tink and Doodle, he's able to adjust -- he just camps somewhere else. We went through a big scare with Doodle once, when we'd bought a new mattress for our bed and moved the old one into the second bedroom, to put on a bed frame we hadn't set up yet. We moved the chair in the corner away from the window, you see. She couldn't get to the window, and commenced to barfing everything she ate. Cost $200 in tests and overnight observation at the vet clinic just to find out the thing that was bugging her was that we'd moved the chair away from the window. As soon as I moved it back, and we assembled the bed, no more acting out.

It probably sounds kind of wacko to somebody who doesn't have a house full of cats, but I don't think it would make that much difference between two and four, to be honest. Tink and Doodle are the nutty ones, and if we'd stopped with them we'd still be having to check the cabinets upstairs, go to sleep in the position we wanted to be in all night, never move any furniture without the expectation one or both of them would 'go off,' whatever. Gord and Squeek both handle those things reasonably well. We already had the two nutty cats in the house when we took on more, and Tink had more trouble accepting the second animal in the house than she's had with any of the other cats (the dog is a different story, not surprisingly).

Posted by Melinda at February 22, 2005 09:30 AM


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