Breakfast with Cats

Yeah About That:

Breakfast with Cats

It’s another damp, gray day, one of many in the past weeks. The gray costing Spring her bright and hopeful colors and the anticipation of going out doors again. Then again, so is the news that grows daily worse and worse. It seems to be one of those times that we humans need to reflect on what is truly important, where we are in life, what is our purpose, and all those other weighty matters. Since most of us are “sheltering in place (home),” there is not much else to do.

Thus I am reflecting on my own New Normal, set not by the leadership (or lack thereof) of authorities or fear of a virus that happens to like my blood type best, but by the sleeping balls of fur by my hip and in the exact place I’d like to be resting my feet. Another guards the “safe” part of the basement (i.e., where the mice are not) and I suspect the last of sprawling on one of the beds upstairs. Peaceful it is, though I could start a feline stampede by shaking a catnip treat bag. Or worse, prepare their twice-a-day meal. Life here has indeed changed. A lot. “Never in my wildest dreams” doesn’t cut it. Here’s the truth:

I never planned to live in a cat house.

It seems I do, however. They have taken over the house, nook and cranny, leaving trails of hair, half-chewed yarn and a scattering of cat toys mixed in with plant branches and assorted plastic ware. Carpets now festoon themselves with hairballs and half-digested kibble. Toilet paper supply is not a major concern for the three humans in the house. Cat litter is. Especially for the smallest fur baby, who does not always discriminate between litter box and clean clothes. Deli-to-go works for a quick meal or snack…unless one of the four-legged scamps runs off with the bags. Life is not as we had thought it could be a year ago.

Some of you may recall that we lost our little guy, Sgt. Pepper, last May. I am still in hopes the peony bush I planted for him has survived this wacky winter. Then, after talking to myself most days and evenings for three months, we welcomed one-year-old Sophie into our lives. We thought ourselves a cat family again.

Not so fast. The feline deities had other plans.

My younger daughter found it needful to move back in with us last fall. A delight, I assure you, to have her here. Exciting to see how Sophie would respond to having another cat in the house. My daughter, however, arrived with something of a twist to the plot: she brought her three cats: twelve-year-old Toby, six-year-old Garth and then four-month-old Ziggy.

Not being a cat psychologist, I can’t speculate much on the social dynamics of having four cats living together in one house; except to say there are quiet times like now, times when we humans do best to stand on the furniture and hope the Crazy-Pants 500* doesn’t leave us with claw marks or turn us into landing strips for the table to couch flights; and then there is breakfast.

The best alarm clock has nothing on Toby, Sophie and Ziggy. If we doze past the rumbly-time in their tumblies, either Sophie or Ziggy will leap on our bed and proceed to walk either my husband’s or my length from toes to face. My husband calls these forays our daily CAT-Scans. Sophie then takes our temperature or pulse or breathing space by sitting next to my face. Ziggy burrows under the covers and attacks my hand with her baby teeth. Cat-upuncture, so to speak. In any case, if their attentions do not set us up on foot and sleepily moving, Toby will settle somewhere near one of our bladders and kvetch until we get up.

The staging area for breakfast service is a 3’ x 3’ island with space around it for two human derrieres or three cats marching side by side. An equal space separates the island from our kitchen table/cat landing strip (used for fleeing the squirt bottle if one of them gets up on the island during food preparation). Materials required: 4 cat bowls; until recently, four types of wet cat food; two types of dry kibble; a spoon; and good focus. The process runs something like this:

  1. Locate all four bowls (Garth’s can be on the basement stairs or somewhere in the basement; Ziggy’s likely has been stumbled over and kicked under a cabinet) and get them lined up.

  2. Get Sophie off the island.

  3. Retrieve the kibble from the pantry and the wet food from the refrigerator.

  4. Get Sophie off the island.

  5. Determine which wet food has been used up and hope to locate a new can.

  6. Give Sophie a well-deserved squirt to get her off the island.

  7. Ziggy then begins circling the island and table; she’s recently moved onto an attractive figure eight pattern. She then begins making sounds that are not so much like a kitten, but a veloceraptor. She has been known to swipe at any of the other three impeding her laps.

  8. Remind a whining Sophie not to “even think about” getting back on the island.

  9. Dole out kibble and wet food for each cat, adding arthritis powder for Toby; apologize to Sophie for stepping on her tail.

  10. Add water to Ziggy’s food – she seems to like porridge; mash Garth and Toby’s wet food into the kibble to make sure they eat both.

  11. Brush aside the leaping fur bodies to distribute the food, keeping a good distance (and the width of the island) between the eaters. Growling has been heard if one gets too close to another.

  12. Return sealed kibble and wet food containers to their original position (they WILL go back for seconds). Leftovers are never an issue. All four are perfectly willing to “clean up” any uneaten food.

  13. Get a strong cup of coffee and enjoy the munching-out quiet.

  • A manic sort of race run by two to all four cats throughout the house for reasons that passeth human understanding

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