Friday, January 20, 2006

Sammy = Sleep-Deprivation

My sister is heading to India for work next month and I have agreed to take care of one of her cats. She has three. I know, she is one away from being 'that crazy cat lady'.

She has two others, twin tiger-striped. When she got them home she had no idea what to call them. Since one of them had blue eyes I suggested she call that one Frank. She thought that was cool, I guess. I have a thing with naming animals.

"But what do we call the other one?"

I thought it was obvious, "Uh... Deano." Like there was any other choice.

So, Frank and Deano lived happily together till one day my sister drags another one home. He was small and wiry, a short haired black cat. There was no other choice for a name, but Sammy.

Sammy became the bane of everyone's existence. He never left the others alone for a moments peace. He was on them constantly. They try to catch a nap and all they want to do is play. And he was absolute murder on my sister's leather couch.

I know, this begs the question. "Why does a woman with a leather couch get a cat, or why does a cat owner get a leather couch?" One of the mysteries of the universe.

On the other hand, Sammy is freakishly affectionate. When you bend down to say hi, he will get up on his hind legs, like a kid asking to be picked up. And he cannot get close enough to you. If he could get inside your head I am sure he would. It's hard to describe, but I have never seen anything like it.

And it's cute. For the first 5 hours. Then it is like having a newborn, only this time, you are breast feeding constantly. The cat is attached to you. Literally. You lay on the couch, most cats curl up at your feet. Not Sammy, he as to be under your chin. And if you move he will bite your cheek. Wherever you go, turn around and you step on him. Heaven forbid you need to go to the bathroom, he sits outside it and howls like you are torturing him.

I had worried how he would get along with my cat, Milo. Milo is older, fixed and much bigger. I worried he would hurt Sammy. Was I ever wrong. Sammy has not skipped a beat, he refuses to leave Milo alone. No matter how much Milo sputters, hisses and swats.

As we speak (or I should say as I try and speak) he is trying to get up under my chin, this was easier when he was a tiny kitten, but I can't imagine how he will accomplish this when he is full grown. I have to stop and pat him he is biting my fingers. He demands attention, or else.

He spent his first night with me last night. I don't think he gets the concept of sleep. I guess he figures I should follow his schedule. I didn't have any problem falling asleep with him running around, I am used to distractions. However, once he decided he wanted to sleep it was a very different scenario. He wants to sleep under my chin. Directly under my chin, and he wants me to pat him as he falls asleep. Unfortunately, when he decided this I was already asleep so he bit me when my unconcerned state would not comply with his demands.

I wake up to "THUMP". I must have reacted to him biting me. You would think that that would deter him. No, he came back with a vengeance. He got up on the bed and started meowing. Loudly. Short meows, almost barks. Mreh! mreh! mreh! mreh!, as if to say, "look bitch, I am ready for sleep and this is how it is going to go. I am going to curl into an upside down ball under your chin and you will scratch my belly until I go to sleep and if you stop I will bite your chin." I would turn over and get a nice hard bite on the back of the neck and he would hop over me and position him self again under my chin. I tried locking him out of the room, but the howling would start. Couple that with whatever neighborhood cat was howling outside my window (in heat) and I couldn't stand it.

It was a long night, but I think at one point I may have rolled over on him. I believe after that he rethought the positioning. I still woke up to wet nose on my lips. I guess he figured I had slept long enough, he needed some love.


Unknown said...

I've got one like that. When she wants attention, she's quite demanding (but she's not relentless like Sammy).

Anonymous said...

dontcha love cats? hehehehe

Anonymous said...

I think Sammy and my cat are related. But instead of biting my cat puts her paw near your mouth if you don't pet her. It's very charming...until you think about that paw having been in the litter box 10 minutes ago. Will you watch my cat for awhile too? Let me know, the UPS store closes soon. I'll need to get her packaged up and shipped out kind of quick like.

Murphy Jacobs said...

Sammy has some major separation anxiety going for him. Chances are he was weaned too early and didn't get all the mommmy cuddling he needed (I've got one who was found at 2 weeks). Being one of those crazy cat ladies (I've got 6, and a dog, and a bird, and a husband to boot) I've had a few cases of cat weirdness and of course some useless advice.

First thing -- when you see Sammy sleeping, WAKE HIM UP. A cat who is awake when you are will be more likely to sleep when you sleep. I know, it's so peaceful when he does pass out, but don't relent.

Second thing -- any time a cat changes environment, they stress. Cats don't like change. He's more than likely stressing in a big way and attaching to you for security. It might sound stupid, but I use homeopathics on my cats -- they aren't subject to placebo effect and I get results, so it's worth trying it. There are some used just for calming excitable cats. I use an anti-seizure version for my epileptic cat because it has no side effects, which the phenolbarbitol had, and it's doing pretty well for her. Can't HURT.

Third thing -- don't tolerate the biting thing. You can't hit or slap a cat and make it work, but you can hiss, just like the mother cat would. ALso, putting your hand gently but firmly on the kitty's head and holding him down (don't squish, no matter how you are tempted) is another "momma kitty" technique. Domestic cats never really mature -- humans take the place of their mothers and they remain kittens. Feral cats act very differently.

Anyway, good luck with Sammy. I hope you or your sister can help him calm down and mellow out, or it's gonna be hell. Kitties that are hell in the household tend to end up in shelters or on the street, and dead. It's all sad.