We have a lovely cat. A good-natured cat. A cuddly cat. Truly, he is the Spongebob Squarepants of catdom — happy-go-lucky and ready to call the world his friend. It’s hard to imagine a better cat.
Except around 4 a.m.
Over the past month or so, Bowie has developed a new routine of trying to get in to our bedroom in the dark hours.
We keep him out because of our allergies. Although he’s less allergenic than most cats, we’d still prefer not to inhale fur while we sleep. And he has plenty of nice nighttime options: The couch. The rocking chair near the heating vent. The bathroom rug. The other couch. Becca’s bed — in fact, Becca loves to have him sleep with her.
But around 4 or 5 a.m., there’s a scratching on our bedroom door. Then more scratching. A few piteous mews. Still more scratching, which by now is starting to sound like zombies risen from the grave and hankering for our flesh.
Then more mews, and maybe a long pathetic sigh.
And then — WHOMP! — he hurls himself at the door.
I’m awake, so I get up. He’s thrilled. He purrs. He falls all over my feet. He doesn’t want anything as mundane as food; he’s got a full bowl. He wants company, or he wants to be let out.
That’s fine if it’s 5:30, which is when I need to get Becca up for school anyway. But sometimes it’s 4:30. Last night, it was 2:30 and 4:30. And even a leisurely 5:30 wake-up whomp is not particularly welcome on weekends.
What to do? Maybe my friend Gina-the-pet-goddess will advise. Otherwise, I just have to fall back on my experience as a parent, which presents three options:
- Sucker mommy. I.e., keep getting up to let him out at 4 or 5 a.m. This is the kind of parenting strategy that makes conservative Republicans crazy.
- Water gun. Okay, so I never squirted Becca as behavioral conditioning. But it worked at teaching Bowie to stay off the kitchen table. Still, it seems cruel when his only transgression is seeking our company.
- Ferberize the cat. Back when Becca was an infant, one of the trendy parenting books was by a child development expert named Ferber, who offered advice for getting babies to sleep on their own.
Ferberizing your baby meant learning to ignore their crying for progressively longer periods of time, so they would become more and more able to put themselves to sleep. We tried it, and honestly, it was harder on the mom than on the baby. It worked.
(In reality, Becca was not that hard to put to sleep and both Sam and I were too exhausted ourselves to really remember what happened back then.)
In any case, it seems to come down to three not-really-great options. Maybe I learn to steel myself to piteous mews and Ferberize the cat?