It is indeed winter, although some days it feels more like March than January. Not that I am complaining. The cats are the ones with full dibs on complaining these days. There are a surprising number of things to complain about when you are a cat (or at least when you are one of my cats). Complaints are always in order about the food. There isn’t enough. It’s not the right kind (even though it was perfectly acceptable the day before). It is not fresh enough. Fresh is defined as having been in the bowl for no more than ten minutes, unless it has been licked within the ten-minute boundary, which renders it instantly inedible. Strangely, if the cats have been left on their own for a day or two, the food that was left out for them magically becomes satisfactory.
Another thing to complain about is being repatriated to the suburbs after six months of cottage frolicking. I am completely with them on that, although I am not as bothered by the territorial encroachment that ran rampant while they were away. During their absence, four cats have decided our yard is their yard. This is partly to do with the bird feeders my neighbour has hanging from her deck, which function more like cat feeding stations than bird feeding stations. A grey tabby scales the fence every day mid-morning for brunch. Henry likes to sit on the upstairs deck railing and survey the usurpers as they sit on our deck chairs, poo in the piles of leaves, and chase the squirrels. Dennis, on the other hand, gets royally pissed-off with the trespassers. He sits downstairs behind the sliding glass doors yelling at them. Apparently cats do not have the best eyesight, proven when I heard the daily snarl and discovered Dennis was getting riled up at Henry, mistaking him for a feline-non-grata. At least it gives him something to do.
Because, the cause of most complaining is winter and the boredom that comes with it. I can’t fault them for that either, but what I can fault them for is the time of day when the boredom becomes most acute. In case you are unaware, cats like the night shift. For mine, in particular, four in the morning is party time. This is not an issue when the weather is clement, because they are simply chucked out the door at bed time and can party all they want without affecting my sleep. Since I aspire to be a good cat parent (negative opinions of the cats in question not withstanding), the colder months are a little more problematic. Dennis has a toy that has, unlike other attempts at providing self-directed cat fun, remained popular over the years. It is a donut-shaped plastic track that contains a hard ball that would not be out of place on a squash court. When the ball is batted with a paw, it goes around and around and generates much amusement. For the cat. For me, what it does is wake me up at four with the dulcet tones of the ball thwacking against the side of the track, swapping from clockwise to counter-clockwise with every swipe. When the toy loses its appeal (shortly after it has irredeemably woken me up), Dennis wanders aimlessly, loudly expressing his displeasure at the world. I do have some sympathy, since he is too old to jump on most of the furniture and has to be picked up and plunked if he wants to be able to spread cat hair on the couches or beds. So what I do is get up and chase him around the living room so I can grab him and situate him on a suitable sleeping surface. Usually, that does the trick and he settles in for a winter’s nap. I am then wide awake. So I busy myself cleaning rejected-cat-food dishes and loading them into the dishwasher. Then I make the mistake of turning the dishwasher on. I hope it doesn’t disturb Dennis. Only eleven weeks until the calendar says it’s spring.