For two hours this morning I played tag with Bonkers the cat, who thinks I have been put on this earth for just two reasons: To feed him, and to provide him with a warm lap that he may curl up on for hours and hours. Whoops! Three things: And, to scratch his ears. He probably thinks all the other things I do with him – bathe him, squirt him in the face with the spray bottle, take him to the vet to have a thermometer inserted in his anus – are the result of some perverted corruption of the physical laws of the universe that he hasn’t figured out yet.
Another speed bump in his understanding of the big picture is the concept of the weekend. I don’t expect that he’ll ever figure this out, but I do expect him to realize that, when I don’t get out of bed promptly at five in the morning, he should keep his mouth shut about it. Sometimes he does. This morning, he didn’t.
I’m not a total asshole about this. I realize that his brain, already the size of a walnut, was probably damaged when his head collapsed two years ago. Even so, he’s retained enough useful brain cells to know when it’s five o’clock, the time I usually get out of bed and, shortly after that, put food in his dish. So whenever I feel I might get a good trade-off, a little peace and quiet in exchange for tramping to the kitchen in the dark, I get out of bed at five on weekends, spoon a lump of brown cat chow into his bowl and go back to bed. Sometimes that works. This morning, it didn’t.
For reasons that The Google is unable or unwilling to reveal to me, Bonk needs to tell the world when he’s done eating by parading through the house, howling loudly. Usually takes about thirty seconds, then he’s done. I give him a pass on that. It’s his nature. Then he licks his paws until they’re soaking wet because he’s still drooling from the food. He’s had trouble swallowing since The Great Head Collapsing Of 2013. He apparenly doesn’t like having paws that are soaking wet because he continues to lick them until they’re as near to dry as he can make them, which takes fifteen to twenty minutes. In warm weather, he’ll do this in the hallway, but in the winter he’ll park his butt next to the hot air register right next to my side of the bed to noisily lick himself. On mornings when I can’t ignore that, I urge him to find another place to do that by zapping him with the spray bottle I keep by my nightstand to communicate my desires.
After paw-cleaning time, he either settles down and has a nap, or he decides he’s hungry again. If he decides he’s hungry again, he’ll ask for more not with a full-blown meow or by talking like a cat at all, but by saying, “heh” very quietly, waiting about thirty seconds, then repeating “heh” again and waiting another thirty seconds before saying “heh” yet again, and so on. He does that maybe a half-dozen times before adding a sad little whine to it that dips at the end, “Hehhh.” There are some mornings when I can ignore the “heh” and keep on dozing, but the “Hehhh” is just whiny and pathetic enough that I can’t snooze through it. And he seems to know that. He will keep on whining until I either feed him or drop a piano on his head. Or squirt him in the face. Today, I squirted him in the face. Always takes him by surprise the first time. He fully expects that, when I swing my legs over the side of the bed, I’m getting up in order to feed him again, so he comes trotting up to sit at my feet. He doesn’t even seem to notice that I have the spray bottle in my hand until he gets a face full of cold water.
After he slinks off to his hiding place, I have maybe twenty or thirty minutes to doze until he feels bold enough to come out and say “heh” again. I don’t get why he thinks he’s going to get away with that after he’s been warned, but in all the variations of this game, he has never quit after the first shot in the face. When I roll out of bed the second time, though, he’s not stupid enough to come trotting up to my feet. He usually backs off to a corner where he thinks I can’t see him. Sometimes this even works, but this morning there was just enough pre-dawn light to see him cowering there, and he got shot right between the eyes again, sending him out of the room at a trot.
When Boo and I play this game, by the way, she always retreats silently to the darkest corner of the room and tucks her chin into her chest to hide the white bib of fur on her neck. The rest of her pelt is a uniform color of gray that blends in perfectly with even the pre-dawn light, making her nearly invisible and frustrating all my attempts to target her until I started keeping my smartphone on my bedstand to use as an alarm clock. The first time I swept the room with the light from its screen and stopped with it pointing it straight at her, she was so surprised that I had enough time to get off two or three quick squirts that nailed her before she sprang out of the room. They can find me when I’m lost, they can find my cat when it’s hiding in the dark – is there nothing a smart phone can’t do? I’ll let you know when I find out.
The third time Bonkers comes back to say “heh” again, he hardly enters the room. This morning he sat about two steps inside the doorway to whine, and when I climbed out of bed he ran off to his hiding spot, under the stool in the hallway. I say it’s a hiding spot because I believe he has the mistaken impression that I can’t see him when he’s sitting there. Either that, or he thinks it will magically protect him. Whatever his belief, it’s wrong. I don’t even have to aim much, I just indiscriminately spray two or three shots under the stool and he comes bolting out.
If we continue to play this game, he will always run to his hiding place, so it’s not much fun for me any more. I don’t know why it doesn’t occur to him to find another hidey-hole, but it doesn’t. He must think there’s some powerful juju there and it’s gonna kick in at any moment, even though he gets sprayed every time he goes there to hide out. I didn’t continue the game past the third squirting this morning because by then it was seven o’clock, time for me to get up and make coffee, but not to feed Bonkers. He had to wait until the coffee was on.