A lesson in communication.

I’m not a morning person, never have been. Ask my mom or any of my colleagues. As a child, I missed as many school buses as I caught and during my military days, it took two alarm clocks set at different times to rouse me early enough to make those pre-dawn exercise runs. *shudder* Or ask my son, who once felt a compelling need to wake me early one brilliant Saturday morning, along with an equally compelling desire for self-preservation that prompted him to bring a diet coke (my caffeine vehicle of choice at the time) and nestle it a foot or so in front of my face before stepping back and gently repeating “Mom” about a hundred times.

    With such a clear track record of morning mayhem, I knew before the first kitten ever crossed our threshold there could be none of that cat-waking-owner-at-the-crack-of-dawn-for-breakfast business. Being fairly intelligent, but not yet familiar with Pam Johnson-Bennett’s fabulous books, I determined that what worked for Pavlov’s dogs would work for Auntie Crazy’s cats, and from the first morning after we adopted Oscar, all felines have been fed after I’ve showered and dressed, and not a second earlier. There are always several pairs of eyes tracking me from the moment I reach for my towels until kitty breakfast is served, but this trick has been successful and for years I’ve been left to sleep as long as I like.

      Unfortunately, Spencer, one of a pair of kittens that joined my clowder in late 2008, needed a little extra “schooling” when it came to bedroom boundaries. Shortly after he acclimated to living here, he began waking me in the middle of the night for chin scritches by pawing at my face and mouth with his claws slightly extended. For several nights, I tried to deal with the situation by hissing at him and turning my back to him… you know, using cat-speak for “leave me be!”.

        Either I wasn’t as fluent as I thought, or he just wasn’t listening, and his attempts at initiating midnight play sessions only escalated.

          One night, when I was really, really in desperate need of sleep, Spencer woke me by hooking a single claw solidly into the corner of my lower lip and pulling. Between the shock of the abrupt awakening, the hurt, and my intense aggravation, it’s amazing I still remembered to respond like a momma cat would, if not quite the way I had been.

            You’re going to laugh. I don’t recommend this method of “training” a cat, but as a one-off, spur-of-the-moment reaction, it’ll amuse you.

              Instead of hissing, I jerked awake with a snarling growl and literally *snapped* at Spencer’s face. My teeth snicked shut just a hair’s breadth from his nose. In fact, I’m pretty sure I felt his breath on my lips before he leaped backwards with a startled hiss and fled the room.

                I really don’t know what was going through my mind other than THIS HAS TO STOP, but that single snap worked. It’s been years since, and Spencer has yet to repeat his midnight offense. Message received!