So it’s come down to this

I had dreams. Aspirations even. Big things I was gonna do. Instead, my sister summed up my life this way:

“You’re a cat slave,” she said.

A cat slave. Ouch.

Reality bites. And sometimes scratches. And it happened so subtly — just like they say. You give up one small freedom, then another, and suddenly you’re downtrodden under someone’s jackboot. Or paw.

I started out innocently enough as the adopted mom of Mike’s cat, C.C., who used to be very low maintenance. In the good old days, Mike would throw some food in C.C.’s bowl and trot off to work. “Grandma'” would check in during the day for playtime, box cleaning, and the occasional head pat. Mike would return 10 or more hours later, at which time C.C. would finally acknowledge the food in his dish and chow down. No fuss.

But after moving and acquiring a stay-at-home mom servant, C.C. gradually became a food-obsessed whiner, paunchy middle and all. A day’s worth of food vanished in under 2 minutes. And he’d demand more in just a couple hours.

In the meantime, bigger trouble was brewing. Julius, the adorable stray, showed up sleeping on our porch and gradually became one of the family. Aside from being utterly lovable and a typical cat (e.g., actually playful and mischievous, unlike C.C., who stares dully at any toy thrown his way), Julius has what’s euphemistically referred to as a “sensitive stomach.” In other words, he pukes. Often. At least twice a week. Never for any reason we can discern, and only on carpet. (That spike in Resolve sales is thanks to us.)

So between C.C.’s paunch and Julius’ barfing, I started rationing the food (weight control food for C.C.; a mix of sensitive and urinary tract specialty food for Julius). Morning and night feedings morphed into morning, afternoon, and evening. And those morphed into splitting those feedings into smaller portions (less food = less puke to clean up). And even though I could fill Julius’ bowl to the brim and he would eat only as much as he wanted, C.C. would happily consume his food and Julius’ — so, everyone is rationed and on a schedule and supervised while eating.

Except, Julius gets hungry overnight — usually between 4:00 and 5:00 a.m. His solution is to deplaster himself from his sleeping spot against or between my legs and wake me up. Every. Single. Night. Creeping up my body. Sticking his little face in mine. Breathing in my ear. Giving a tentative lick, then licking persistently, my hair his favorite target.

Sure, I throw him off and yell (sometimes Mike yells too, but usually he just sleeps through the madness). It works for about 3 minutes. Then it starts again.

I resist, but I know who’s boss. I’ve learned it’s best to get up and get it over with. Trudge downstairs and throw food in both bowls. Resistance is futile.

C. C. never takes part in the waking ritual, yet somehow I know he’s in on it, egging Julius on and reaping the rewards.

Three hours later, between 7:00 and 8:00, round 2 begins. Usually just before Mike is ready to get up, so I get another half-hour or so of periodic awakening, either by cat pestering or the just-as-annoying snooze alarm.

“Snacks” before bedtime didn’t help — they just added another (now mandatory) feeding to the mix, me with only one eye open before tottering off to bed every night. 

So it’s come down to this. I’m not doing big things or writing best-sellers or living in a cottage surrounded by gardens. I’m a cat slave, plain and simple.

But still, I can dream of sweet freedom. It looks like this or this. I can picture it so clearly — two cats who do nothing but stare at the feeder all day, waiting for food to magically appear. And it does. Up to 8 times a day (or night).

Could it be that emancipation — and a good night’s sleep — might be only a ridiculously expensive purchase away?

Cats were put into the world to disprove the
dogma that all things were created to serve man.
                                                             ~ Paul Gray


  1. THE CHAPPY said,

    Friday, January 9, 2009 at 7:05 pm

    sounds to me as if you should take the little darlings to ‘robbie mengele’ and be done with them! ever considered a dog? kidding aside, your indoor cats would benefit from some cat grass and catnip plants to aid the digestive problem. cat spit up is what they do when their bellies are sensitive… not to mention the need to throw up fur balls….i cannot get my head around this rationing of food business…it is not like they have to hit the ‘runway’ in the new spring collection…usually cats eat what they need. indoor cats tend to be a bit bigger due to a lack of exercise. who does not whine when deprived of food?… empathy here, you are the superpussy and ultimately in control as they are just animals…. if you cannot cope buy the feeder and be done with it…..or put on your cat fur hat and muff and go walk the dog!

  2. WritingbyEar said,

    Saturday, January 10, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    Well, being overweight is as unhealthy in animals as it is in people, so I feel the responsibility not to let them get fat, even if they want to and even if it’s a burden on me. Price of ownership. You’re right about the cat grass — you’ve said that before and I just haven’t done it.

  3. ritaleedesign said,

    Thursday, January 15, 2009 at 4:11 pm

    Ahh welcome to the 4:00 AM club. Isn’t it great? Mine, as you know, turns on the faucet, full blast to get me out of bed. If that doesn’t work, tapping me on the nose with one’s paw is a sure fire winner. Science Diet Fur Ball food has worked incredibly well for my little barfer–might want to give it a try. Yep, in the slave galley with you….

  4. WritingbyEar said,

    Thursday, January 15, 2009 at 7:33 pm

    I love that faucet bit. Mine haven’t learned that, thank goodness. Although I did find a tomato in the sink just now that must have mysteriously rolled itself off the counter. Good thing it was too big to fit all the way down the disposer.

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