Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Crazy Cat Person

I am not a crazy cat person, though I am a crazy cat person.  The italics make all the difference here.

Let me explain:  A crazy cat person is the one most people think of when those three words are strung together.  That is one who has a houseful of cats who dominate the person’s life, social and otherwise.  He or she (usually she, frankly) talks to them regularly and treats them more like people than pets.  I am most assuredly not one of those types of people.

A crazy cat person is someone like me, who “owns” (if such a word is applicable here since it often is questionable as to who owns who) cats who are out of their freaking minds most of the time.  I am cursed/blessed with three crazy cats, named “Stop It”, “Get Down”, and “Don’t Bite Me”.  They have actual names, but those are the ones they believe they have, since that’s what each hears from me the most often.

“Stop It” is marginally the least ridiculous of the three.  He was run over by a child with a bicycle as a kitten at his original owner’s house, and suffered a broken left front leg, which was set and has since healed.  It is still a bit stiff, but he gets along just fine.  The incident with the bicycle has made him a bit cautious, I think, but not nearly enough.  When he is not getting what he wants, whether it is attention, food, human sacrifice, or whatever, he knows exactly how to push my buttons.  Passive-aggressive activity is his strong suit. His favorite trick is to claw something.  He typically uses his scratching post for such things, but has trained me to respond to his whims by scratching less appropriate things on occasion, such as the sofa or the woodwork.  He is also the one who will lay directly on top of anything I am using if there is something he feels that he needs me to do for him.  Most of the books on my shelf have cat hair on at least a few pages.  “Stop It” has been known to walk across the keyboard of my computer while I am working on it as well, which does not exactly add a great deal of spice to my writing.  And don’t get me started on his affinity for napping on clean laundry.

"Stop It" in one of his favorite napping locales.

He will also stare at the ceiling from the top of the refrigerator for extended periods of time, and no matter how many times I take him down, he jumps right back up there immediately.  I once removed him from his perch ten times in a row within the span of about two minutes, just to test his tenacity, before I gave up. There’s probably a mouse or something between the floors, but he’s never, ever going to catch it.  It has never shown itself or left any evidence of its residency, so I suspect it wisely lives a quiet life entirely between the walls, out of reach of felines.

“Get Down” is the sister to “Stop It”.  She is a sweet and gentle soul with whom you can do just about anything.  If I hold onto one of her feet, for example, she will just stand there and stare at me, even sighing in disgust, waiting me out until I just stop.  She doesn't react much.  Same thing if I start to tap her tail while she is napping: stare and sigh, wait the dummy out until he gets bored.  She just tolerates whatever shenanigans I am subjecting her to, which she must see as the path of least resistance. 

"Get Down", living up to her name.

As her name implies, “Get Down” has a habit of jumping up on things that she should not.  One of her more benign tricks is to sit on top of the television set and dangle her tail over the screen.  She is also fond of trotting across nightstands covered with “stuff” at two in the morning, laying in the seat of my recliner just as soon as I get up to go get something, and napping in the middle of my desk when I am trying to get some work done.  She loves to snooze on paperwork spread across any table or desk.  “Get Down” is the reason that anything light and of value on a flat surface in my house has two-sided tape on the bottom to keep it secure.  Delicate things literally have a short shelf life in my home thanks to “Get Down”.

“Don’t Bite Me” is the newest addition to the household, having lived with me for not quite a year yet.  He is just over a year old, whereas the others are nearly five.  Much stockier and less athletic than his housemates, and a lot more in touch with his inner kitten, “Don’t Bite Me” is as mischievous and playful as the other two put together.  If the mood strikes him, which it often does, he will suddenly try to take a bite out of you without provocation.  They are not vicious bites, but he’s so rough and foolish that he ends up hurting me or the other cats.  More than once I have been reading in bed at night, absorbed in a book and absently stroking “Don’t Bite Me” who is lying on the bed next to me, and he will just clamp down on my hand out of the blue.  Not hard, mind you, but enough to get my full attention.

"Don't Bite Me", in time out again.

He has nearly four pounds over the others, so they have developed a low tolerance for rough play with him.  When “Don’t Bite Me” wants to wrestle, “Stop It” will indulge him for a few minutes, but then some line is crossed and “Stop It” starts hissing and growling.  “Get Down”, who is the smallest of the three, does not like to play rough at all.  Her strategy here, since ignoring him has long since been ruled out as an option, is to run away.  Of course, “Don’t Bite Me” thinks this is a great game of chase.  They run from one end of the house to the other and back again, over and over, sounding like a herd of small buffalo, until “Don’t Bite Me” gets tired or is put in time out in a bedroom by me. 

“Don’t Bite Me” spends a LOT of time in time out.

One thing that will get him there in a flash is when he plays Guardian of the LitterPlex.  I have an area in the house with litterboxes for the cats, the aforementioned LitterPlex.  “Don’t Bite Me” tends to like to guard this area, especially during high demand times, like just after meals.  If one of the others cats wants to use one of the litterboxes, they have to get past the Guardian of the LitterPlex, much like Cerberus at the gates of the Underworld.  Needless to say, I do not want the other two to start using other places in the house for their bathroom, so “Don’t Bite Me” spends at least an hour or so after breakfast most mornings cooling his heels whilst shut in the bedroom.

The funny thing is, big bully “Don’t Bite Me” is actually the most timid of the three cats.  The vacuum cleaner will send him into hiding for hours, and even shaking a plastic bag will send him scurrying off.  The other two cats look at him as though he’s lost what little mind he has when he reacts to these things which do not phase them in the slightest.

One would think that petite little “Get Down” would avoid big, silly “Don’t Bite Me” like the plague, since almost everything about him is the opposite of her, but you would be wrong.  She is relentlessly curious, to the point where she just cannot resist being nearby and seeing what kind of trouble he is going to get into.  Then, of course, she gets caught up in the middle of it, usually against her will.  What seems to be true with people also applies to cats: good girls just can’t seem to resist bad boys.

What’s most amusing is when the afternoon sun spills in onto one of the beds during this often chilly time of year.  The cats, being solar powered, will all find a spot in the sun to nap.  It’s not unusual for me to walk in to find “Stop It” and “Don’t Bite Me” doing some male bonding and blissfully snoozing next to each other.  Meanwhile, “Get Down” can be found a safe two feet or so away from “Don’t Bite Me”, with literally one eye open at all times.  Those two feet of space may as well be the DMZ in Korea.  She wants to be in the sun too, but doesn’t quite trust “Don’t Bite Me” enough to relax while he is so close by.  It’s kind of an interesting metaphor, actually: Those who irritate us always seem to be enjoying themselves much more than we ever are.

The cats make things interesting around here, to say the least.  Right now, “Stop It” is sitting next to me watching me type this, patiently waiting for his supper.  I just hope he doesn’t get it into his head to jump up onto the keyboafweuag0[p9o;jlk,[o;pfasdvzcsoie][‘;l.hre’aghpIZ;lng;.vfzd

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