Cats Make Strange Bedfellows

I have to sleep in a recliner because of my bad back. That means my cats only have one lap available from midnight until morning. My wife sleeps in the bed on her side which Lily and Ozzy find unacceptable. During the day, the cats choose between our two laps. If we’re sitting, we often have a cat in our lap.

Usually, I have one cat sleeping on me and sometimes it’s two. It’s not always fun, but if I try to lock them out of the bedroom they scratch at the door all night and bitterly complain in their language.

Cats are big on routines but I haven’t figured out how they divide up the time on my lap. Sometimes Lily hops on me as I’m going to sleep but Ozzy is there when I wake up to go to the bathroom. Sometimes it’s the reverse. Sometimes I fall asleep alone but wake up with a cat, or two.

It’s a unique emotion to regain consciousness to the sound of a retching cat knowing you have seconds to get an exploding feline to the floor. And nothing brings you back to consciousness quicker than an 18-pound cat doing a four-point landing just below the belt. Well, maybe when an 18-pound cat springs off of two legs while sitting just below your belt. Ozzy has some powerful hind legs.

I don’t know why my furry friends love sleeping on me at night. I’m an old man and need to pee several times a night. That means I have to wake them up and tell them they have to get off each time. You’d think that would annoy them enough to break the habit.

Getting up to drain my shrunken overactive bladder has evolved into quite a nocturnal ritual with me, Lily, and Ozzy. That ritual has been slowly refined over the last four years.

I wake up and tell the cat(s) they need to wake up and get off the lap. They step over to the table on the right side of my bed. I then pull off the blanket and put it on a chair that’s on the left side of my recliner. Then I pull the first pillow out from underneath my legs and pile it on the blanket. Then I pull out the second pillow and balance it on the first pillow. I’m careful to not let the stack fall to the floor because I hate looking for that stuff in the dark. Then I reach inside my pajama bottoms and pull out a small blue melamine plastic colander I use to protect the family jewels and set it on the table to my right. I then get up and walk five paces to the bathroom. I turn on a small light and log the time. Then I turn off the light. (You don’t want to know.) I do my business sitting down in the dark and then walk back to my recliner. I have to check to see if a cat hasn’t gone to sleep in the warm spot because if I sat on a cat it might kill it or the cat might claw the hell out of my ass in the dark and that would really wake me up. I try to never become fully awake.

Once I’m sure the seat is clear of cats I sit back down. I put my ball protector back in place, then put the first pillow under my legs, then the next, then I grab the blanket and feel all the edges until I find the short side. I throw the short side over my legs and catch the edge under my feet to hold in the warmth. Then I say out loud, “Pile on” and the cats will ignore me. Most times I immediately fall asleep and don’t feel them regaining their position. However, Ozzy always takes longer, and sometimes I feel Lily jump into his place first. So Ozzy walks around on me for a while trying to annoy Lily and tramples my crotch. This is why I’ve learned I need to ball protector.

As I said, I don’t understand their routine because it feels entirely random. However, I sometimes wonder if they haven’t set up a timetable. I should start logging that to see if I can’t detect an intelligence behind the way they take turns sleeping on me.

Usually, one cat sleeps on me at a time, and often for the whole night, no matter how many times I have to get up to pee. I wonder how they divide up the nights. Some nights it’s Ozzy other nights it’s Lilly. But every once in a while, Ozzy starts the night and Lily finishes it. Or vice versa. And then there are nights they are both determined to sleep on me.

They both want the space between my legs closest to my crotch. I think I’m going to go bowlegged sleeping with cats. If Ozzy gets the favorite spot first, Lily will sleep in the space between my legs below my knees. Ozzy won’t take that space though. First, he’ll try to sleep on top of Lily to make her mad. Sometimes this will piss her off and she’ll run away. Sometimes she digs in and just lets Ozzy bury her.

Evidently, Ozzy doesn’t find sleeping on Lily comfortable, so if he doesn’t run her off, he gets up and walks around my lap until he finds a comfortable position. This is where the plastic colander is essential. (It used to be a plastic storage bowl, but I discovered condensation in it and realized my genitals need both protection and air. Is this TMI?)

A lot can happen at night. A bird or squirrel (burglar?) outside the window will bring both cats instantly awake and sometimes their alert claws wake me. Sometimes they’ll spend thirty minutes grooming. When they are both piled on me and grooming, the different jostling patterns demand all my attention. Another annoying habit is gnawing their claws and trying to pull off a layer of claw. This creates a snapping motion and makes an irritating sound. And I’ve already mentioned the in-the-dark puking. Early in the morning, I often come awake with a cat in my face. I think smelling my face says, “Get up and feed me, you big bastard.”

I just go to bed (chair) just before midnight. Last night I got up to pee at 12:24, 12:44, 1:41, 4:44, and 6:43. And that’s a fantastic night for me. I haven’t slept for three hours in years. But there’s a chance I didn’t log a pee – that sometimes happens. I also took a pain pill, and that sometimes lets me sleep longer.

I had both cats all night last night, so for those five times, this routine was repeated:

  • wake up cats and get them off me
  • stow the blanket
  • stow pillow one
  • stow pillow two
  • stow the ball protector
  • lower the footrest
  • walk to bathroom
  • log the time
  • pee
  • return to chair
  • check for cats
  • recline
  • position pillow one
  • position pillow two
  • position the ball protector
  • find the edge of the blanket
  • recover my body so everything is warm and comfortable
  • tell the cats to “pile on”
  • fall asleep

It’s amazing how fast I can fall asleep. Sometimes I can fall asleep before the cats resettle themselves. And I dream. Boy, do I dream! Getting up so frequently in the night is a great way to interrupt dreams. I think about the dreams while I pee. I’m always impressed with the creativity of my unconscious mind. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the dreams or my thoughts the next day.


9 thoughts on “Cats Make Strange Bedfellows”

  1. First thing you need to know about cats is that they are heat vampires. They’re stealing your body heat for their own evil purposes. And second, they have variable gravity, which they use when jumping, to give them increased velocity as they launch, while massively increasing the impact against their launch pad.

  2. I hope you have a separate colander to strain the broccoli. Joking apart, that kind of disrupted sleep would kill me, and I suspect it isn’t doing you much good. It’s bad enough when one of mine occasionally wakes at 0430 wanting attention for half a hour. Have you thought about making some sort of heated bed to lure them off your lap?


    1. Yes, I had to buy Susan a new colander. And I bought the cats a heating pad to distract them but they still want me. The heating pad trick worked on Nick and Nora our last pair of cats.

      I do wonder about not getting proper sleep is doing to my health. The reason I keep a log of my bathroom visits is I’m trying to lengthen the times between visits. I have made good improvements through diet and discipline. Getting to sleep two hours at a stretch made a huge difference. I no longer feel sleep deprived. On most nights now I get two two-hour stretches.

      1. I’d suggest you persist with the cats (have you tried putting the heating pads on a duvet or something more comfortable than you?)—iirc, from something I read in my aviation days, your first sleep cycle is about four and a quarter to four and a half hours long and you don’t want that interrupted. More generally, I suspect those constant sleep interruptions will be doing your overall health no good at all.

  3. First off, (insert laughing emojis here). I enjoy hearing about others’ routines so that was a fun read for me.

    Second, I agree with others who suggest being more firm with the cats. Considering how little consistent sleep you’re getting, I’m amazed at how well your brain is functioning.

    Heat pad(s) outside the bedroom. Close bedroom door. Insert earplugs / use sound machine / whatever to block the pissed off yowling. Try it for a week and see if it you notice an improved daytime life, as well as longer time between nocturnal pees.

    Lily & Ozzy (what beauties!) will be offended, but I bet that doesn’t stop them from lap-napping during the day!

    PS: I once purchased “natural” flea deterrent spray. You know the kind, with some sort of herbs and spices in it. I thought it smelled great but my cat hated it so much that I ended up using it as a cat deterrent. If I needed to keep a zone kitty-free, I just sprayed dish towel with the flea spray and used it like a barrier. It worked a treat. 🙂

  4. my sister had a manx when she was younger; i use the feminine pronoun because Buster , the cat in question, seemed to have the attitude of ‘i reckon i can’t expect you to leave since you were here when i arrived, but, re-member whose house this is.’ cats are cool and they’re alright for where they’re at, but i still think dogs are where it’s at. arf!

    1. My sister is here visiting and I asked if she remembered you. She didn’t. However, she asks if you remember Linda Hodges? She wants to reconnect with people back at Killian.

      1. i recollect yr sister as a foxy redhead, so it’s disheartening that she doesn’t remember me. not all that surprising as whoever organizes the reunions still misspells my name, which is at least part of the reason i’ve never bothered with any of the damn things, along with the fact that it’s always held in august (i can dig it, people have families, schools out for the summer,and on and on etcetera , etcetera, wow!) and miami in august is kind of the equivalent of chicago in february, which is to say that i’ll go back if necessary, but if i can put it off for even six weeks there’s a noteworthy improvement in the weather. it’s also worth remembering (to me at least ) that i’d lost track of ninety percent of my acquaintances within eighteen months of graduation,and we would generally nod to one another if our paths crossed while we were out and about, not feeling like i had a hell of a lot to tell them; outside of you and kris straub, i feel i’ve got fuckall to say to anyone else. as for linda hodges, i don’t recollect the name and i threw my 1969 catamount into the recycling bin when i left chicago in the spring of 1987. i reckon if there’s a seventy-five reunion (what the hell that’s only eleven years off) i’ll try and make that; if i’m not around, i doubt anyone will notice my absence. give becky my regards.

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