Howler Kitty in the Night

TobyToby, our cat, is somewhere between fourteen and fifteen years old, and over the past six months, has come to look it.  He’s lost weight, gone frail, and is now mostly a furry bag of overly affectionate bones.

He’s also lost what brains he had—and believe me, the benchmark wasn’t that high.

Old, forgotten habits are new again, in his second kittenhood, and he’s gone reckless with them. He jumps on the counters from the kitchen table, right in front of my MIL, with no regard to his personal safety, her draconian ideas pet etiquette and food safety, or my blood pressure.

He knocks over unattended glasses, just to pat at the puddles.  And we’ve had to extract him from the toilets, lately, a habit he ditched a decade ago, so all the humans in the house are trying to remember to put the lids down,  a habit we thought we could safely ditch once the girls were too big to fall in.

But he’s developed a couple of new habits, too.

The cat who ate everything and anything now turns up his failing nose at food that’s been sitting in his bowl more than three hours and water that isn’t moving.   He slides the ceramic bowl around to be helpful—or to point out that his water is stale, thank you—which drives my MIL, whose ceiling is the floor of our laundry room, crazy.

He’s also decided that he can’t poop in the litterbox unless it’s absolutely clean.  I scoop three times a day, but  work outside the house and do occasionally sleep, so he’s started to find . . .  alternative facilities.  I’m just grateful he’s not as picky about all his bathroom habits, because his kidneys are obviously older, too, poor guy—our semi-weekly rounds of “Find the Torpedo” are revolting enough, but I categorically refuse(pun totally intended)  to play “Rip out the Ammonia-infused Closet Carpet.”

I sympathize with all this.  I do.  Kitty dementia is a real thing, according to the vet, and I’m sure being unable to trust one’s instincts, memories, and once-sharp senses is terribly confusing, especially when one’s cranium is the size of half a tangerine.

So I do my best to keep him comfortable and keep the inconveniences at a minimum for the rest of us.

But when one’s beloved pet, for reasons only known to him—or not—starts howling at 3:45am every blessed morning?

That’s when I get a tad resentful.

“Maaaw?  Maaaw?  MaaaROW?  MaaaROW?”

“Here kitty, kitty,” I mumble, more than willing to accept his dirty feet on my pillow and his Meow Mix Hairball Control Formula breath in my face in exchange for just one more precious hour of sleep.

My husband mutters something and sticks his head under his own pillow.

“Maaaw?  Maaaw?  MaaaROW?  MaaaROW?  MAAAROW?! ROW?!  ROW?!

After about twenty minutes of this, I stumble into the laundry room, check his food (full), check his water (full and clean), check his litter (scoop, just in case), leave the light on so he can find all three, and stumble back to bed.

“Maaaw?  Maaaw?  MaaaROW?  MaaaROW?  MAAAROW?! ROW?!  ROW?!  ROOOOOOOW?!!”

He’s standing on the toilet lid, pawing at it.

I get up, raise the lid, give him a rough head rub because thumping elderly kitties sharply around the ear hole is wrong, whatever the justification, and go back to bed.

“Maaaw?  Maaaw?  MaaaROW?  MaaaROW?  MAAAROW?! ROW?!  ROW?! ROOOOOOOW?!!  ROOOOOOOW?!!!!”

He’s howling in the shower.  He seems to like the echo. Or he wants someone to turn on the taps for him.

It’s now 4:45am.

I give up, get up, banish him from the bathroom, and turn on the shower for my own use.  Even through the water, I can hear him.

“Maaaw?  Maaaw?  MaaaROW?  MaaaROW?  MAAAROW?! ROW?!  ROW?!  ROOOOOOOW?!!!! ROOOOOOOW?!!!!””

There’s certainly nothing wrong with his lungs.

But when I come out, he’s gone.

The house is quiet.

But I’m awake now, or my version of it, so I start coffee,grab my laptop, and start kvetching about this smelly, rude, loud, clingy, senile cat of mine.

About halfway through my rant, a too-light furry ball of bony warmth sits on my bare foot.

And starts to purr.







18 thoughts on “Howler Kitty in the Night

    • Poor Toby (love the name). I feel bad for him. My kitty, Jay, is a little over a year old. It’ll be time for his Bar Mitzvah soon, LOL. He still thinks he’s a kitten, so he’s very talkative. He lets me know if the box isn’t clean enough, or if he doesn’t have enough food (all the time) or water. But he gets away with murder just like the hero of “Mr. Short, Dark…& Funny” who he’s named after. LOL

      • That is messed up. Both kitties in my life give/gave me dagger eyes. Sometimes I dream of Little Kitty (RIP), and she is loving AND spiteful. The dog still won’t sit in her favorite chair. It’s been two years.

        • Finn used to give me the evil eye, because the other one was always squeezed shut. Mac used to squint at me like Leonardo DiCaprio, because I perplexed him. And Tootsie Roll (hush, I was two) used to honest to pete roll her eyes at me because I was the dumbest kitten any cat had ever tried to raise EVER.

        • Little Kitty used to bap me in the face to get me wake up. I’d find myself totally contorted because she needed the pillow for her gorgeous tiny old Kitty bones.

          (DP and I both entered into the relationship with a Kitty and Little Kitty lived to 21, and Big Kitty, aka Jackie Chan is still kicking. But now I call her “Ms. Chan” to preserve her stripy dignity.)

        • Toby is the reason I know that seeing red stars when one is jabbed in the eye is not just for cartoons.

          Finn just used to cuddle up next to me, relax, and pass gas that burned the top layer of cells from my eyeballs.

  1. Oh dear. Beautifully written. Reminded me of “too-light furry ball[s] of bony warmth” I’ve known in my own life. Now I’ve remembered that my border collie, Tess, resumed chewing shoe laces when she got old, something she hadn’t done since tiny-puppyhood. And I miss her. I miss them all, the cats and dogs I’ve lived with and outlived. In spite of their sometimes problematic behaviors, I keep feeling I never did quite enough for them and hope I’ve been forgiven. I miss them all.
    *tearing-up quietly*

  2. I fear I would not be so kind were I the one who had been awakened thusly. (It is for this reason, I am grateful that I am highly allergic, and will never have cause to experience such early morning revelry.) Toby was clearly in need of companionship. He probably figured you needed some quiet time to write.
    I just lost my dog about a month ago. Brando was 13 human years old, and had been declining for the past 5 months or so. His brother (and litter mate) misses him dreadfully. As do I.

    • If Toby cared about my writing, he’d stop trying to sit on my keyboard. Then again, maybe he’s doing quality control?

      It’s tough to lose a member of the family. I’m sorry for your loss, Dee.

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