If you've gone to a cat show, you may have seen this statement, "Sleeps with Cats" in rhinestone on a black t-shirt, sported by several cat ladies. Some of the cat ladies look pretty good modeling the shirt. By the way, if you've never gone to a cat show and would like to, check out the show calendar schedule for a show near you on TICA or CFA. I don't own one of these slutty garments for two reasons: One, too many are already wearing one and black is not a good color to wear around cats if one doesn't want to spend the day rolling the hair off. Two, sleeping with cats is usually an oxymoron.
As someone who loves all animals and breeds the Maine Coon cat, you might expect my bed to be inhabited by hairy creatures. Jay doesn't count; he really isn't that hairy. However, our bedroom is also the kitten nursery until I can get a teenager to move out and give up his room. As many queens (breeding female cats) tend to go into labor in the middle of the night and newborn kittens need a watchful eye, our bedroom makes the most sense as the room for moms and babies. I'm a light sleeper and when a queen is close to her due date, I wake up several times during the night at the slightest noise. That's usually a good thing. After the kittens have arrived, my light sleeping is more of a handicap to a good night's sleep.
Last night was typical. Kinsey's litter of four kittens were recently moved from their birthing cage to our master bathroom as they were getting too big and needed to move to the next stage in their development; solid food and litter box training. I put a plastic gate in the bathroom door, like those to sequester dogs or toddlers, to keep the kittens in the bathroom. The mother can then jump over the gate for a mommy break in our bedroom and the humans step over it. Last week, I had more kittens and moms to deal with; Amy and Ally's combined litters of 8 were in the bathroom. Kinsey had to jump over the gate to the bathroom in order to use the litter box as her kittens were still in the birthing cage. Having moved the older litter of eight and their mothers downstairs, Kinsey and litter of four were a sigh of relief.
But the problem isn't the kittens when you're trying to get to sleep. The problem is the litter box and the adult cat (in this case Kinsey) who decides to empty her bowels right as you are drifting off to sleep. A few of my queens are smart enough to realize that when I'm brushing and flossing, it's human bedtime. These more considerate girls will make the big stinky at that time. Not that I like to smell crap when I'm flossing my teeth, but at least I'm still awake and can conveniently scoop the offending poo, spray the Febreeze and limit the odor invasion. Kitten poop doesn't pack the stench that mom's does, so their assault to my senses are minimal. When I am awakened by the sound of a cat incessantly scratching her way to China through her plastic litter box, I know what's coming. The longer the dig, the greater the load. A cat will scratch, and scratch, and scratch, and scratch….probably for 3 minutes before deciding she's ready to go. When one is half asleep, the scratching goes on for a good 30 minutes I swear. Sometimes, I'll be proactive and get up, waiting with the pooper scooper for her to finish. Sometimes I try to sleep through it and hope that this one won't stink. Then comes the cover up. Another 30 minutes of scratching, trying to pull the paint off the wall, the sides of the litter box, the toilet paper, whatever is close by, into the box. The scratching never seems to end. When I hear the cat finally jump out, I sigh with relief. If only that were the end. The scratching instinct continues, however, to the food dish (which apparently smells like crap to a cat who has just pooped). The whole pooping process, from digging the hole to vainly trying to cover up the stench, takes hours it seems. That's an exaggeration, but I probably lose that much sleep over it.
A cat's instinct is to cover up any odors which may attract predators, from kitten afterbirth to poop. However, that instinct hasn't taught most of them how to EFFECTIVELY hide the source of the smell. After all that incessant, mind-numbing scratching, I still see poop! Most of it is untouched by cat litter, the odoriferous septic smell wafting unhampered into my nostrils. They completely miss the point.
After Kinsey's production, I stayed in bed, convinced I honestly didn't smell anything. She had already gone a couple of times that day so she probably didn't have a major load to leave. Jay apparently was offended though and noisily disposed of the poop, sighing in exasperation several times for my benefit and throwing in an "oh my God!" when he pulled out the litter box. I stayed in bed. At least that was over; now we could go to sleep. We were Just dozing off again when Kinsey decided to join us, using us both as spring boards and knocking the wind out of me when she pounced on the bed. I kicked her off and she stayed down for a while. Unfortunately, the aroma of her recent movement still followed her. I just hoped that she hadn't stepped in anything that I would find on my bed in the morning.
A few minutes after being rejected, Kinsey decided to take a different approach to our bed. She landed on my nightstand, knocking off my Kleenex box as she prepared to launch herself on my pillow. That's it. I had gone to bed early; it was now an hour later and I was still awake. I picked up a purring kitty and deposited her in the bathroom with her kittens and shut the door. Why didn't I think of that earlier?