sunrise Right now I'm going through one of those rare periods when I just don't have anyone in particular I can call a real misery in my life. To my ego, I guess this must be a problem, because it seems to be able to find a real issue now with the cat. Yes, sweet little Pumpkin, seen in this photo playing with a decoration from the Xmas tree last December, has become my current bane. How on earth iz zis possiiiible, you ask? Simple. You take a cat which is now sleeping more during the day because it's hot, and then you try to undertake a rather basic activity like "sleeping" (yes, I know it sounds weird, but I do try to sleep at night), and, voilà, at two-thirty in the morning for the past three days, he thinks it's time for us to get up.

So he strolls into the bedroom, announcing his royal presence with a series of loud meowls (not the soft gentle kind, but the piercing, "Yo, guys, I'm up! What's shakin'? kind), and hops onto the bed. Were he to install himself delicately between our legs and doze off again, all would be well. But this is not in his manner. He prefers to purr at the decibel level of an outboard motor (okay, maybe a slight exaggeration, but it seems this way when you're asleep, or half-asleep now), and nuzzle our faces. Cute, right? When we don’t respond, he swats our noses with his paw. Still cute? We ignore him. He takes things to the next level. He jumps up on my shoulder and sits there perched on my triceps, vibrating my body with his purring. I now take action and return his swatting with a swipe of the hand.

In one quick motion he has landed back on the covers, there to settle in for the rest of the night. Hmm. Wishful thinking. You can sense him now taking stock. He knows he has a choice, he can follow his right-mind and fall asleep, leaving us with still a few hours of restorative sleep. But, no, it is to his evil wrong-mind that he looks for counsel. He jumps down, stalks the space next to the bed, and launches himself onto my tiny bedside table. Aside from the lamp that teeters on its edge, there’s the glass of water to contend with, not to mention pens, telephone, a book, all sorts of fascinating things to stroll on and over and explore in this vast domain of three square feet. This’ll grab his attention, he whispers to himself. And it does. The cat (no longer ‘sweet Pumpkins’) is summarily picked up by the scruff of his neck and deposited on the floor.

After attempting the same manoeuvre three times (this is not an exaggeration), he looks for another plan. The bedroom is obviously the problem, and so he sets about strategizing his escape from this harsh prison. The window is open, he smells the fresh air. But he is not so stupid. Having been taken in by apparently open windows before (yes, he slid down the closed window Garfield-style), he concludes it is wiser to take a more prudent approach. Ah! There is the electric radiator under the window – excellent! He extends his claws and sets them into the pin-point holes of the radiator’s grill, and begins his ascent to freedom. As best I can, I ignore the grating sound of the claws on metal, and wait till the cat reaches the windowsill, knowing quite well what is about to transpire.

“Into the wild blue nightime yonder!” the cat yelps with glee, having scaled the radiator mountain successfully and discovered the window open. And that’s when true despair sets in. The shutter is closed. The meowling is spontaneous, terrifying, … ominous. It presages suicide, or at least severe depression. His – no, MINE!

The cat is grabbed (ever-so-tenderly) and expedited outside the bedroom door, which is then definitively closed. After his failed nocturnal adventures, Pumpkin settles down on his bed in the living room to recover from emotional exhaustion. But several hours later, some totally insane internal alarm clock sets off and at five-thirty (again, every night now for three days) he wakes up and makes his way down the corridor toward the bedroom. Faced with the closed door, the disappointment is palpable, it pervades the air, and without any conscious choice (?), a wailing sound issues from his tiny lungs. The sound is like a flood that knows no obstacle, and soon it is flowing under, around, over and through the heavy wood door that separates the intimate, private (and relatively tiny) space reserved for the cat’s masters from the vast animal-dominated space that is the rest of the house. Again, without any intention of disturbing us (I’m sure), his automatic reaction it to attempt to break down the door, which he does by scratching at it with his claws. That will surely reduce the inch and a half of pine wood to saw-dust, he figures. Logical cat-thinking.

By this time I am not the only one being ever-so-slightly upset by this feline tyrant. Patricia suddenly rises, opens the bedroom door, grabs the cat, makes her way to the front door of the house, unlocks it, and drops the source of noise and scratching and sleeplessness outside. The door is closed, Pat returns to bed. And we try to catch up on a rather poor night’s sleep.

The cat, it has to be said, has won.

Hmm. Now, I might be tempted to think that I was bothered by the cat, but is that truly so? Let’s try to look at this differently… No, let’s not.

The fact of the matter is that I was bothered by the cat, but only because something inside me, no matter how invisible, was actually already slightly unbalanced. All it took was one little innocent kitty-kat to throw me over the edge into frustration and despair. If my mind had been located in that perfect (feline-free!) place of peace and reality, nothing Pumpkin could have done would have upset me. Nothing he did was upsetting me. I was upsetting me, by forgetting to laugh at the whole thing. By thinking something was happening – something was happening outside of me that was unjustly imposing itself on my rest and peacefulness. My peace, again, was being taken away by something that had nothing to do with me (I get off the hook). Of course it’s a lot easier to see all this in the morning, but while it’s happening it’s a little more difficult.

Even more disturbing to me was seeing how I puffed and quietly moaned during the night so that Pat would notice my agitation. I wanted her to see I wasn’t enjoying myself, since I had been suggesting for some time that we train the cat not to come into the bedroom (by keeping the door closed). I knew “I was right” (can’t you just hear the sickly self-righteousness in those words?), and the fact that she got fed up and put the cat out meant I had triumphed. Victory! And always victory means I had managed to prove (yet again) that I was the innocent victim of an unjust and cruel God who had cast me out of his kingdom to suffer at the hands of fools (and cats).

Sheesh!