Strangely I have a memory from when I was a teenager spending the night at my grandmother’s farm. I awoke to see a black cat sitting by my head, curiously staring down at me, the strange person, sleeping on her mistress’s couch.
It was Inky, an indoor/outdoor cat, who was friendly and loved by my grandmother. Since I had never owned or been owned by a cat until 40 years later, it was the strangest feeling to awaken to a dark presence peering down on me. Little did I know that later in my life I would have many more awakenings similar to that one.
I now live in a condominium building with an dear lady above me. Norie often wakes me up at 5 AM, when she hears our upstairs neighbor wake up for devotions and to getting ready for Mass. I don’t know why she decided that time was a great time for me to wake up. Thankfully I think she has shifted to listening to her stomach telling her it’s time to wake “us”up. This new tactic gives me something to work with.
With the Daylight savings time changes twice each year, my wake up time varies earlier or later because of Norie. It takes time to shift her back and forth an hour since her internal clock is not based on a government decision.
Recently about 4:00 AM, after five hours of sleep, I awoke to the sounds of harsh winds blowing against my windows and the rain pelting the nearby sidewalk. Norie, decided prematurely it was time to wake me because she was hungry and thought it was time for her food. Interestingly enough she was sitting by my head, looking down at me, staring at me in the dull light of my night light like Inky did in pre-dawn light so many years ago.
A few weeks later when that method failed, Norie decided on a new tactic. She would gently paw me once, pause, paw a second time, then a third time and if I failed to open an eye repeated the routine one or two more times. Finally if I didn’t awaken she applied just a little touch of a claw to make me wake up! I do not take kindly to being awakened by a cat in such a manner. So I said sharply and loudly, “NO Claws!”
Since I developed some back problems the routine has changed a bit. When it is 6 AM, or a little earlier, it is time for my medicines. I have to get up anyway, so I go to the bathroom and wash my face.
Next I weigh myself. When I pull the scales away from the wall, Norie checks for bugs. (All we ever have is a rare silverfish.) But she dutifully checks for them every day and scrutinizes the perimeter of the bathroom for any bugs. I praise her and tell her how wonderful she is for protecting me from the bugs. Sometimes she acts like she’s chasing a bug, when I know there isn’t one!
Sometimes after she headed for the kitchen I climb back in bed and pull the covers up to try to fake her off. But soon I feel and hear her jump up on the bed and sit and stare at my face, CPAP mask and all.
When there is no other chance of sleep, I get up and go fix her food and get my medicines and breakfast. I even go back to sleep after sitting up a few minutes. Sometimes soon after the Daylight Savings Time changed she would do this at 5:00 AM. Often I could just tell Norie in a very drowsy voice, “Norie, I have to sleep. It is too early. Go eat the dry food in your bowl.”
That actually worked well. She would leave me alone to return to my sleeping. But I would lie there and wonder if there really was dry food in her bowl, left over from 10 PM when I last fed her. So then I would haul myself out of the bed to go check if my assumption was correct or not.
After I turned on the kitchen light sometimes there was actually food still in the bowl. I wanted to be sure the food level was enough to keep her 14 pound body from pitifully shrinking.
If there was food, I tell her, “Norie, eat your food! It’s too early to feed you again.” If there was no food I would feel guilty for lying to her and for making my poor starving cat go in the kitchen like I told her to and find no food! So I would add a few pieces more of the dry food to satisfy her stomach so I could sleep!
More recently in the morning she returns and hops back up on the bed and snuggles her rear end against my shoulder. As if to say, “I ate enough dry food. You don’t need to feed me now. I am just feel snuggly.”
Somehow we (I mean she) has established a safe, fairly reliable system for waking me up. Getting older, taking medicine and familiarity have helped form a truce between us. I love my Norie.