When most people think of cats, they think of the cute, cuddly, purring creatures celebrated in so many calendars, greeting cards and Fancy Feast commercials. However, I discovered a darker side of the popular house pet that may require further examination. I am speaking of the Cat Conspiracy that appears to have taken over my household.
It all began several years ago when I used to live in NYC. I had a modest split-level studio apartment with a spiral staircase that overlooked my bed. I thought nothing of it when I put the bed there, as it was really the only space large enough to hold it. However, my two cats Chelsea and Chase found the spiral staircase to be the perfect venue to carry out their evil plan. Every morning they would wake me up by launching themselves off the spiral staircase and on to my stomach. Or my head, or my armpit, or wherever they happened to land. They didn’t really care where they jumped to, as long as it achieved their ultimate goal---to wake me up so I would feed them.
At first I thought this was a rather cute and clever way of getting my attention. After all, waking up to find a cat flying through the air over your head is certainly something everyone should experience at least once in their lives. It makes quite an impression when you see outstretched claws soaring toward your face. And then to experience the joy of “touchdown” as their long nails sink into your epidermis, perhaps scarring you for life. Or at least for the next week.
But after a few times of this adorable ritual, I got rather tired of it. Especially when they decided their skydiving activities were not exclusively reserved for the early morning. Sometimes they liked to go parachuting in the middle of the night, which unintentionally added another level of horror to the nightmares I was having. Imagine being chased by a monster in your dreams at the same time that a 14 pound cat suddenly lands with a thud on your chest. It’s enough to give you a heart attack.
Which is why I decided to counter these attacks the only way I knew how—by covering up the stairwell, so they could no longer stand on the steps and jump onto the bed. The first thing I tried was aluminum foil, because I’d heard that cats don’t like to go near it. (Something about the smell, I think.) So I wrapped the spaces between the rungs with long strips of the foil, making sure there were no gaps underneath that a cat could slip through. This looked rather ridiculous, of course, but I was sure it would deter them from their nightly flights of fancy.
Unfortunately, my cats had no qualms about aluminum foil. In fact, they apparently liked the way it sounded, as they scratched and crinkled it all night long. Like hearing nails on a chalkboard, the crackling of the aluminum foil was even more of a sleep irritant than the acrobatic kitties. Eventually, they managed to tear through several pieces anyway, and then their trapeze act was back in action. Foiled by the foil.
Later, I tried using towels, pillows and even books to plug the gaps. (The latter having a rather unfortunate ending when a pile of old Robert Ludlam novels was shoved off the staircase and onto my head.)
Finally, I just gave up. Because no matter what I tried, those two cats were smarter than me. And they worked together as a tag team, attacking my torso from different angles and levels on the stairs. Chelsea was the lighter and nimble one, so she could jump off the highest stair, and glide effortlessly downward until she hit her target much the same way a penny falling from the top of the Empire State Building might land. Luckily, she was quite light, so her falls from grace didn’t have as large an impact as they might. Chase, on the other hand, was a huge overweight cat that loved to belly flop onto my stomach. I can’t tell you the level of pain this caused, though I did get a much stronger set of abs from continually holding them clenched in anticipation of the next assault.
Sadly, Chelsea passed away and I eventually got a new companion for Chase, in the form of a short-haired black male named Trey. This was the first time Chase had ever lived with another male, having only known the joys of Chelsea for the last five years. And though at first the two males had their issues, eventually they decided it was better if they combined their energy against me rather than each other. Chase soon taught Trey all about the nightly/morning routine, and I soon found myself witnessing a new chapter in my terrifying saga—the emergence of Evil Cat-nieval.
I gave this nickname to Trey after a series of stunts he pulled early one Sunday morning. While Chelsea had been able to drop off the top stair quite effortlessly, Trey added the element of speed by starting his jump all the way back at the kitchen, and then making a mad dash down the stairs until he dove off and landed on me with a bigger impact than just by jumping alone. Sometimes he would throw in a little twist in the air, or do a double somersault. As long as he reached his target with as much force as possible, he didn’t care. He was fearless.
This went on for several years, until I moved out of the city and into my own house in the suburbs. Finally, I would be rid of that damn spiral staircase and the ability for my cats to perform target practice on my body. My bed was now in a normal room and there was nothing around me that the cats could launch themselves off of. I made sure of that.
But cats will be cats. And soon they discovered a new way to get my attention. They jump on me from the other side of the bed. Or run around the bed, using me as a launchpad for jumping somewhere else. Which is sometimes worse than actually being jumped on; as their launch requires them to roughly push their legs (and nails) into me as they thrust themselves forward.
So here I am, a sadly beaten man, hen-pecked by two male felines. If anyone has a suggestion as to how to defeat this evil pair and their nightly visitations, please let me know. Before it’s too late!