Who needs an alarm when you have a cat? Awake at dawn or the first sound of morning outside and your cat is ready to go. You feel your covers pull back a little at a time as he kneads the bedding like a ball of dough. No response from you? He creeps up the covers, purring with contentment in his task. Is it the paw he kneads into your neck? Does he climb on your pillow only to settle in with that same happy purr as he begins to part your hair for you? Yes, there’s nothing like a cat to get you out of bed.
Well, after 16 years of these glorious awakenings, my husband and I taught our cat to sleep outside our door. How do you teach a 16-year-old cat? I think we just got lucky. We’re not that smart. Proof to follow.
We fell into this lucky change of fortune. One night, a Saturday night, one when we planned to sleep in, the cat was relentless. As I moved through the next day, I saw a fleece blanket we weren’t using. A light bulb went off, and I folded it nicely and put it outside our bedroom door. That night, Ginger jumped on our bed as usual, tucked us in – well actually, he was climbing around us, kneading us so that we buried ourselves under the covers- then walked to the middle of the bed, bathed and called it a night. I was still reading so let him stay a bit. Then before I went to bed, I picked him up and put him on the fleece blanket outside the door, said good night and shut our door. He stayed! And he didn’t scratch at the door or begin his pitiful “meows” until the alarm went off. We couldn’t believe it. We repeated the process the next night, and the next and it held! Only when College Girl and College Boy came home for the holidays did it not fail – their biorhythms didn’t support our bedtimes. But as soon as they went back to school, Ginger went back to his bed.
Okay, I suppose we got a little cocky, having taught an old cat new tricks. Maybe it was that, maybe we were just sleepy. But yesterday morning, Ginger woke with the alarm and began scratching the door to come in (we’re still working on that). I told him to stop and he did. But then, I heard it, the knock of the familiar. You know the one when you arrive at family’s or a good friend’s house? “Knock, knock, knock-knock-knock, pause, KNOCK, KNOCK.” I couldn’t believe it. Now that’s a cool trick. My husband who was prepping for work, popped his head around the corner to ask, “Did you hear that?”. “Well”, I said, “If he learned that cool trick, we should let him in”. So my husband opened the door, only to find our adult son, a married homeowner who lives 20 minutes away, standing there. He had dropped by to pick something up on the way to work, let himself in, but knocked so as not to scare us. We looked at each other and burst out laughing. Of course, the damn cat hadn’t learned that fancy knock! My husband said, “This doesn’t have to leave this room”. But I disagreed. In the light of day, no one would think their cat was that smart. Just remember not to ask either one of us to make any vital decisions before 6:15 am.
But hey, did I tell you we taught our cat to sleep outside our door? Pretty cool, huh?