Sunday, June 17, 2007
Training the Cat (or Untraining Me)
WARNING: If you're sick of seeing and reading about cats on the internet, this is not the entry for you. Head to another blog, maybe my friend, Lisa. She's hilarious and tells fun stories about her kids and life. Or over to Boomer Babes Rock, where baby boomer women talk about life after 45. Very pithy. (yes, I looked up pithy. What a great word) But today I'm going to write about my cat, Lou the Loud. Lord knows I'm sick of cats on the internet. Shoot, today I'm just sick of cats.
Well, you're still reading. Can't say I didn't warn you.
As some of you know, Lou has me trained to respond to his very loud meows. At four a.m. He sits beneath my bedroom window and yells until I let him in. Then he runs up the stairs and meows at the children's doors, claws at the carpets near their doors, until they let him in, waking everyone in the house. He pretends that he comes in for breakfast, heading straight for the pantry door, but he takes one bite then shoots up the stairs to meowl at the kids. Terror.
The four and five a.m. ruckus means that none of us sleep well. I've been concerned that once the kids start school Lou will be a serious problem. Getting rid of Lou isn't really an option, so training the cat is the alternative. Have you ever tried to train a cat? I've seen videos on the web of trained cats, one in particular gives me the creeps.
Armed with the latest information on training cats (many web sites say things like, Training a cat is like taming Niagara Falls -- Good Luck!), I've prepared myself and my family for long term agony. Evidently cats take weeks to train, unlike dogs who tend to want to please, often learning a new trick or behavior in a day. I've been watching Dog Whisperer. That guy can train a dog in minutes (it's usually the owners who take days to train). It doesn't work with cats. Mr. Millan, the Whisperer, says to own your space with dogs, show them who's boss, the alpha dog. Psh. Lou's the alpha cat here. Even Flash and Patches know it and give him a wide berth. I can throw my chest out and my shoulders back and Lou would just see me as Mt. Everest, a target to climb.
So I tell the children that we're going to be keeping Lou awake during the day so he'll sleep at night. I tell myself and Chris that if Lou's out at night and meows at four a.m., I'm not letting him in (as some of you know, Lou won't come in for Chris), that he can just meow as long as he wants. He can only come in after seven, a respectable time. And I tell the children that I'm buying them all spray bottles to keep just inside their doors to spray Lou when he tears at their carpet or meows at their door. The instructions were very specific concerning this.
Guess who is awake from four to six every morning this last week? You know who. Chris has been very sick all week, sleeping in the living room chair so he can breathe, so Lou hasn't kept him up. Thank God for small blessings. Lou sits outside the window and yells at me for two hours, not letting me sleep (no wonder I collapse about nine p.m.). I'm determined not to let him in. When I get up to look for him at seven, he's nowhere to be found, maybe protesting my rude behavior. In fact, he doesn't come home until dinner. He can protest all he wants.
But this morning I blew it. He started up about four, as usual, and I ignored him. It was more difficult than usual today because I had a migraine starting. I wanted to get up and take some Excedrin, but I knew he'd see me moving and meow louder. Afraid of a little kitty. About six o'clock I threw caution to winds, took some Excedrin and moved to the living room chair. Sitting up always helps. Lou, that sneaky devil, moved to the front living room window and set up his howling.
At this point my choice looks pretty easy. I'm in pain, the cat is safe, he sees me (he crouches at the window, looking at me under the blinds, letting me know he sees me), I have the opportunity to let him know who's boss, without throwing out my chest (my friend Jeni says that would cause Chris to want to own my space, but that's a topic for another blog). A no-brainer. Let him holler, right?
I let him in.
Can you believe it? If you know me, yes you can. I took advantage of my weakness and put his flea drops on his back. Lou's extremely affectionate when he comes in, so he sat still while I dosed him. Still.
Until I write again ...
P.S. For those of you who read yesterday's post, Chris took a turn for the worse. I called the doctor last night and she prescribed a much stronger antibiotic. Chris actually slept in bed all night, which I'm hoping is a good sign. Especially since today is Father's Day and Nathaniel's birthday. And for all you dads out there - Happy Father's Day!