Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Pavlov's cat

I haven’t consistently slept through the night in almost three years and it’s starting to wear me out.  At first it was dealing with the New Kitten Blues when Aditi arrived in early July, 2013.   Of course I couldn’t blame her as she needed to eat every four to six hours, but did she have to do anything and everything to wake me at three in morning to feed her?  From tearing at the box spring to knocking over the bedside lamp to deviling me to death, Aditi ran the gamut, so each and every time she’d do something naughty, I’d get up and plop some kibble into her bowl.
Now I’ve got an overweight cat who you might have read about last year.  Jhoti has to have her food rationed (which means my other pets do, too), and it never ceases to amaze me the lengths she’ll go to in order to get my attention.  Jhoti even took the time to teach my oldest, best-behaved cat to chew on electrical cords while she hollers, “Hello…MOM!” and her little sister climbs on the headboard, hovering over me like a hawk.  Still, I refuse to rise before five AM, so if they wake me before then, all of them are kicked out of the bedroom until sunrise.  Not that it deters them from rattling the knob or pounding on the door and yowling for all they’re worth.
You would think I’d be used to it by now, but I'm not.  You’d think that after all these years of sleep deprivation, my body would simply rise and shine when my pets do.  But no.
They’ve trained me well, those darn cats…and I don’t much like it.
I’m a night owl and prefer to stay up late and sleep in (which means seven o’clock during the week if I’m lucky).  On Sundays, I’ll feed the crew and go back to bed until nine or ten…that is if they’ll let me.  Since the days are getting longer, Aditi thinks that any time after sunrise is fair game to cajole me into opening up the three-season room so she can watch The Bird and Bunny Show in my backyard, which is on pretty much every day from six AM until noon.   None of them give a rip that I’m dog tired, so here I am still helplessly disciplined by a bunch of felines who could give Pavlov a run for his money.  They all know I’m a light sleeper, so any noise they make will rouse me, ensuring that breakfast will soon be in their bowls.  One “meow” and I’m up and at ‘em…doing their bidding before I try to get an hour’s more rest before yoga classes.
Since they were little, I’ve trained them to stay off the kitchen counters.  To keep their little paws off of the dining room table and any place where food is involved.  They use their litterboxes and keep themselves neat and tidy.  For the most part, they’ll come when I call them, especially if I use words they understand like “treat” and “nip” and “porch”.  But try and get them to do anything that goes against the grain of what they want, and I’ll be kept waiting for a while because, unlike dogs, my cats don’t really care about pleasing their owner, for they’ll do as they please for as long as they like...unless I get out the squirt gun.
Still, they’re not the only things keeping me awake these days.

As many of you know, I purchased my first iPhone last week and since then have been enthusiastically figuring out all the bells and whistles.  Speaking of bells, I’m going to have to turn off the one that lets me know every time a text has been delivered (yes…I caved).  Even though I use proper spelling, punctuation, and grammar, from what I hear, I’ve become an advanced texter in only five days, but it’s not like I jump to it every time the phone rings or a message arrives.  In fact, most of the time the iPhone is in silent mode because I don’t want to be disturbed when I’m teaching or writing.
Or getting some much-needed sleep.
I’m alright with having a few felines as my masters, but I’ll be darned if I’m going to let a phone control me, even if it is  incredibly fabulous.  During a meeting with one of the managers at the Apple Store I said, “We’ve come to a point in our culture where we love technology and use people.  I truly wish we could learn how to love people and use technology.”
So even though I’m having a ball with the latest version of Word on my MacBook and my iPhone comes along for the ride whenever I’m out and about, perhaps I am more like my cats than I care to admit.  From what I hear, a lot of people who don't like cats have control issues, and that would apply to me, too, as I used to despise them when I was little.  But since I adopted Scout, my first rescue cat, I've learned how to loosen up and appreciate the mystery of let go of the need to obey and experience the joy of going with the flow.  
         In any event, I imagine if Pavlov had a cat and a cell phone around the house, his pet wouldn't have salivated when the bell rang...only when there was something really good on which to pounce.  So feel free to text or call, but unless we have a phone date or other plans to meet, don’t expect me to answer right away.  I’ll get to it - usually within the day - and hopefully when I’m using the laptop so text messages are synced and I can respond with a larger keyboard instead of needing to squint to see the tiny print on my cell phone.
Thank goodness summer’s in the wings and fairly soon it’ll be warm enough for the cats to sleep in the three-season room where I’ll kindly lock them out of the house for the night.  My cell phone will be in silent mode, quietly charging in the living room and I’ll be in bed, blissfully unaware of all the bells and whistles so I can finally sleep through the night.