Tuesday, September 15, 2009

No, It's NOT Time To Wake Up!

Sydney left a comment on yesterday's post and asked about the cats, who were on the outs a while back. After several days of lessening antagonism, things were finally back to normal with them.

But today's post isn't about the cats and their social habits. It's about the cats and their eating habits, and how that's now a problem for me. Even though both cats are from the same litter, they have very different body types. Pepper is svelte, while Jackson has always tended towards stout. When they were young, they ate food out of a communal bowl in the laundry room. One day I noticed the food bowl was always empty. Pepper looked a bit gaunt, while his brother looked even rounder than normal. The vet suggested we feed them in separate areas of the house, and take up the food in between mealtimes so Jackson couldn't eat more than his share.

Fast forward to today. The "princes" get fed three times a day--morning, afternoon, and bedtime. We've tried giving them fewer but larger meals, but it doesn't work. Pepper only eats a limited amount of food before he walks away from the bowl. (I wish I had his willpower!) As I mentioned yesterday, Tony gets up quite early, and the cats are used to eating then. He'd actually stopped setting an alarm most days, relying on Pepper to wake him up. I was the beneficiary of the Pepper alarm today, several hours before my alarm clock was supposed to go off. Although I knew I could go back to bed after cat duty, it was annoying to leave its comfy warmth.

The cats do their best work on Tony, but I've been awakened often enough to know there's a definite routine to the morning's actions. Pepper is always the instigator; Jackson is on the floor waiting in the wings. Pepper starts with a soft meow, and waits for a response. If he doesn't get one he cranks up the volume to MEOOOOWWWWWW! If that doesn't work, he moves to jumping on your body, or laying next to it and kicking with his feet. Sometimes he uses his tail as the tool, and whips it back and forth hitting everyone in his path. He keeps all this up until he gets the desired results.

Today I was able to buy myself 15 extra minutes by continually throwing Pepper off the bed, but I know I can't rely on that every morning. I decided to do a little Internet research to see what others in the same boat have come up with. Some ideas I can try:
  • Close the bedroom door with the cats on the wrong side. Put a piece of bubble wrap at the bottom of the door for when the cats scratch on it!
  • Keep a spray bottle filled with water near your bed, and use it to spray the offending animal. This is supposed to make the cat run away for an extended period of time while they groom themselves to remove all the water. It also supplies negative reinforcement; they don't like to get wet!
  • Play vigorously with your cats in the evening. That should make them so tired they'll sleep later in the morning.
  • Hiss at them when they try to wake you. That's like saying "back off" in cat-speak
I actually like having Pepper sleeping on the bed in the middle of the night, so I don't want to close them out of the bedroom. Besides, their main water bowl is in the master bathroom and I can't stand the thought of them being thirsty. I may try rousing them from their early-evening nap tonight for a game of "running around the house". That would be good exercise for them AND me. There's also a water bottle in the spare bathroom that may come in handy tomorrow morning...


  1. We are soon to get our daughter's cat back - so I will soon be needed some of your remedies.

  2. I'm glad to hear they are friendly again. I admit, the image of people hissing @ cats is quite amusing...