Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Get off of me, cat!!!

I live in a drafty old two-story bungalow of uncertain vintage that has a gas furnace...which is great, until you consider how much heat escapes in spite of the storm windows and insulation. The thermostat is set on 62', which still brings down a gas bill of around $150 per month in the winter.

In addition to my two Airedales, I have three cats. In the winter, they all want to sleep with me, or rather, on me. Each of my cats has some less-than-endearing qualities, and although I love them, there are things I could live without. They're all rescues, all neutered, and don't always get along with one another...the two tomcats are fine, but the third cat, a Tortoise female, hates the others, the dogs, and everyone in the universe except me.

The smallest of the three, an aging grey tabby named Gus, has a really high specific gravity- he's not a big cat, but he can effectively concentrate all of his mass into a single point, usually when he's decided that he needs to sleep on my legs or shoulder. Despite having come declawed and fixed, Gus has a serious need to mark things: furniture, walls, doors, the dogs- he'll back right up to their crates and loose his contempt when he knows that they can't do anything about it. It's not that the dogs have ever even tried to hurt him; Gus is the Alpha Male in the household and he wants you to know it. I love this cat, but the pee drives me nuts.

Frosty the Siamese, aka "Not So Secret Asian Cat", is the only one who isn't declawed. He uses his claws for two things: shredding my furniture and fighting off the Tortoise cat, who has a nasty notch in her right ear because she pushed him too far a few years ago. He's an extremely affectionate cat, but typical of his breed, very demanding. He can hear my mother on the phone (when she isn't on the speaker) and will howl until I put her on speaker so he can talk to her. He's the one who gets up on the bed and punches me in the shoulder at 6:00 a.m. because he thinks it's time to get up. Don't kid yourself; Siamese cats can make a pretty good fist, and it hurts.

The third, and the only girl, is Skeezix. She came from my former dean, not long after my first cat, Mr. Cat, died from respiratory complications of FIV (I actually adopted him because he was an AIDS kitty and I didn't have other cats at the time- FIV is not zoonotic and can't pass to dogs). I should've known she was trouble because the first picture I ever saw was of her sitting in a dish drainer. She's the median-size cat in the household, a door-opener, and generally angry at the world. She's also a slob; the boys let her have her own ladies' room because she doesn't tend her litterbox very well. She insists on kneading my shoulders at night until I push her down to the end of the bed. There's also nothing quite like being asleep and hearing a low, feral growl from the area by my feet, followed by hissing, spitting, and angry screeching.

I've been sick since before Christmas, so going to bed and having three cats march around on top of me is not my idea of rest. Last night, Gus decided to tough it out on the back of the couch and leave the bed to the Tortoise and Siamese. After being smacked around a bit by the girl cat, Frosty decided that the path of least resistance lay just above my head. I felt something suddenly weigh down the pillow, so I flipped on the lamp to discover him sitting bolt-upright on the top edge, giving his best impression of Bastet, the cat goddess of ancient Egypt.

It was a tactical error on my part. Skeezix usually sleeps on the pillows on the other side of the bed, so seeing Frosty perched in that spot set her off. I heard, "ROWWRRR! FFFFFTTT!" about a split second before she charged full-tilt at my head, wailing in fury. I may have been half-asleep, but a demonically-possessed bare-fanged kitty rushing at my face engendered reaction: I slung her off into the floor, then swatted Frosty down from his perch. Both immediately returned to the bed to renew the power struggle- but I'd had enough for one night. I called the dogs.

My dogs are actually very fond of the cats, but here's the thing: they like to pet the cats on the head, which my mother says is probably akin to being hit with a sledgehammer. It's really cute, but the cats hate it. As Sister appeared in the bedroom doorway, ready to launch herself onto the bed, both cats spat angrily and took off to their respective hiding places. Somewhere across the house, I thought I could hear Gus laughing quietly to himself.

Naturally, in the morning, I awoke to find both of them back in the bed, and Sister on the floor beside it. I love my cats, but there are some things I can live without...I call them my Crazy Cat Lady Starter Kit, and they're it for me. I'm a dog person at heart, so no more cats when these have passed on to the Great Catnip Farm in the Sky.

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