Initially, it was rather difficult to discern exactly what she was saying due to the intermittent sobbing and explosive nose blowing – which, by the way, comes across rather loud when done in close proximity to the speaker on a cell phone. But finally, I was able to comprehend what had happened.
Despite having set multiple alarms, my daughter had overslept and missed a very important college class. The world was now coming to an abrupt end!!! Retirement funding would no longer be necessary.
My instant reaction was to tell her I was soooo jealous. The idea of an extra amount of sleep was almost too much for my permanently tired mind and body to absorb. It is scary to think what I would give for a few extra uninterrupted minutes of sleep on any given day. But alas, I have the ultimate alarm clock – my cat Gracie!
This interesting feature of Gracie’s personality seemed so cute when she was a newly adopted kitten, and I was working full time as a fourth grade teacher. The possibility of being late was not an option then.
First, my lesson plans were EXTREMELY detailed and typically required some specific background knowledge of the subject matter.
Second, this particular group of students could sense fear and/or uncertainty in adults who might have to monitor the class until I arrived. I always referred to these unfortunate individuals as piranha bait.
Overall, they were a great group of students. But, my absences needed to be well planned, advertised in the classroom days ahead of time, and accompanied with promises of privileges to be lost forever if the person filling in for me suffered any mental trauma. Thanks to Gracie, I was never late!!!
These days, in theory, I should be allowed to wake up at my leisure or when my bladder feels like it is going to explode – whichever comes first.
Until this past year, my daily rising time was five o’clock. That gave me enough time to get dressed, get Rae off to school, feed Gracie and Ben, clean out their litter box, and make lunches. Now, Rae is in college, I can wear sweats all day if I feel like it – my computer doesn’t mind, and my lunches don’t have to be made at dawn.
Someone needs to explain this lifestyle change to Gracie.
She is still very determined to maintain our five o’clock awakening schedule. Although I realize now that it is NOT just getting me up on time she is worried about. She wants her food to be presented to her on time also.
Bunny, on the other hand, would sleep until noon and eat whenever. He has total confidence that I will provide for his every need in a timely manner.
Gracie seems to constantly worry about whether or not she will ever again be fed her daily rations of canned food even though an equal portion of dry food is available for consumption throughout the day. I sense that she has a touch of OCD when it comes to meals. Thus, she has developed the following ALARM SYSTEM to make sure her specific morning nutritional needs are always met on time.
Gracie silently creeps along the side of the bed until she is face to face with me on my pillow. When I do not acknowledge her, she proceeds to head buttme like a WWF wrestler. Hoping I am having a bad dream, I roll over. Within seconds, I receive another head butt. I close my eyes tightly and mumble something to the effect of “not yet”.
Since the head butt technique failed, Gracie moves on to facial cleansing. For a few moments, I am allowed to drift back to sleep. That is when the first lick across my forehead occurs. It is not the feeling of sandpaper across my skin that upsets me. It is wondering what part of her body she last licked. My only alternative now is to bury my face in the pillow. This in turn limits my intake of oxygen and ultimately forces me to put my face back in harm’s way. That is why Gracie now positions herself on my nightstand and stares at me like a vulture waiting for its prey to die.
If the previous two steps do not produce the desired result, Gracie moves on to number three. With a loud thump designed to simulate a minor earthquake, she jumps from the night stand to the floor and stalks over to the long thin drapes covering the closed French doors along one wall of the bedroom. With no warning she will leap as high as she can and swipe the drapes with both paws. If I hadn’t seen all three Paranormal Activity movies this behavior probably wouldn’t unnerve me so much.
Gracie will continue her attack on invisible creatures hiding in the drapes for about 5 to 10 minutes until I get up and pretend to be heading downstairs to the kitchen. Too excited to realize I am bluffing, she will burst on ahead. Once she clears the door, I jump back into bed and will myself back to sleep.
Realizing she has been duped, Gracie will now return to the bedroom even more determined to drive me to the brink of sleep deprived insanity. It is time for “cord tapping”. Gracie silently slinks behind the bed and locates the cord attached to the lamp on my night stand. Purposefully, she begins to tap out her version of a Morse code message by smacking the cord into the night stand.
The first time she did this I thought someone was at the door and went downstairs to answer it. I was not amused to find empty front steps and a smug cat staring at me next to her bowl.
Not being a total idiot, I began unplugging that lamp and rolling up the cord before bed. Gracie just moved onto the next available cord and so forth. The getting ready for bed ritual in my house is quite lengthy these days, but I am definitely prepared for nighttime power surges.
If still unsuccessful, Gracie now resorts to her most extreme method - personal item relocation.
Normally, both Gracie and Ben will go to great lengths to avoid knocking things off shelves or counters, especially if they belong to my husband. Gracie is definitely a “daddy’s girl”. Both cats seem to take great pride in maneuvering their way successfully through such obstacle courses. However, this seems to change for Gracie when food is involved.
Across from the bed, is a tall dresser where my husband puts his phones, some papers, etc…As a last resort, Gracie will pounce dramatically onto the top of this dresser and methodically push one item after another off of it - pausing between each item for effect. By the third or fourth “clunk”, either my husband or I will typically admit defeat and feed our “starving” cat.
Where has Bunny been during all of this you ask?
He likes to observe from various vantage points. I think he feels like why waste the energy if Gracie is willing to do all of the work. I find this oddly typical male behavior (once again, no offense male readers).
And, why go through this daily drama?
A part of me hopes to convince Gracie that patience is a virtue. Since Gracie begins her wake-up call procedure between 20-30 minutes prior to her feeding time, getting up at that time will only make her try and wake me up even earlier. Eventually she would be eating breakfast and dinner simultaneously.
I am hoping to convince her that I will get up at her feeding time but not a minute before. It is similar to the technique parents use when trying to get a young child to wait for dinner time to eat instead of letting them eat before the rest of the family. It may take a while, but I know consistency is the key.
On the positive side, it is comforting to know that I have such a reliable feline friend. I know that I will NEVER wake up late in the morning. Gracie will always see to that.
I can only imagine how much more productive the human work force would be if people were as determined to successfully accomplish a task as Gracie is each day. She is a role model for students, employees, and employers.
P. S. A similar type of ritual occurs in the evening around four thirty. It consists mainly of Gracie following me around and using her intimidation stare to coerce me into preparing her dinner by five. It is also a signal that I need to stop writing for the day and start making dinner for the humans in the family. Truthfully, I really do appreciate her help in keeping me focused on both my feline and human family members.
Until next time, remember...
There is no snooze button on a cat who wants breakfast.