September 3, 2011

Having a tiger by the tail


---- — I haven't slept in about a week. My wife's cat has taken up a new game: He slams the bedroom door into the wall as hard as he can and waits for somebody to get up and chase him downstairs in the dark. Great fun.

What he does is walk over to the door — clicking his toenails on the bare floor every step of the way — stand on his back legs and push his front paws against the door so it slams against the wall — Bam!

At first, my wife chose to pussyfoot around the problem. But nobody, including her, was getting any sleep, except the cat, who sleeps in the daytime.

I wanted to shut the cat in the basement overnight, but my wife strongly suggested that if I did she'd shut me down there with him.

Trying to doze off until he strikes again doesn't do any good. You know that door is going to crash into the wall sooner or later, so it's like trying to sleep during a bombing raid.

Then — get this — he sashays over, jumps up onto the bed, landing squarely on my head every time, and cuddles up with my wife. Talk about sleeping with the enemy.

There's no point in trying to catch the cat. Did you ever chase one in a two-story house at night? Advantage: cat.

When I say I haven't slept in a week, it's only a slight exaggeration. Oh, I catch a catnap during the day from time to time, now that I'm retired, but real sleep is just a dream.

So I had to take matters into my own hands. I was going to have to engage the cat in guerrilla warfare — night maneuvers against a crafty adversary.

The first thing I did was arm myself. I went to Walmart and bought a squirt gun. I had a game in mind for him, as well: Drench the Cat.

I was prepared to spend a little money on this weapon — maybe as high as $3 or $4. As it turned out, I got away with only $1.99, though the first gun was defective. It had a big hole in the handle, so when I tried filling it up, I wasn't getting anywhere. But the fine folks at Walmart cheerfully granted an exchange when they saw my dilemma.

That night, I loaded up and waited for action. My wife made the mistake of getting up in the middle of the night for a glass of water, and I drilled her just for practice. She told me to holster my pistol, and none too pleasantly.

The cat, instead of rushing the door, jumped on my head. Instinctively, I shot him. My wife wasn't happy: "You shot him point blank?" Clearly, she was taking his side. Defending one's freedom isn't always popular. The cat ran to another room to lick his wounds.

Miraculously, I finally got to sleep that night. I dreamed I was capsized at sea. I woke up to find I'd leaked ammo all over my shirt.

I thought I spotted the cat peeking around the corner. I think he was planning to fake a run at the door to draw my fire. Instead, he jumped on my head again and sidled over into the crook of my wife's arm. To make matters worse, he was purring so loudly I felt as if I was at the airport.

I looked over and my wife was asleep, reflexively scratching the cat's back. Lucky dog. I wish she'd do that to me.

Later, I was awakened by the door slamming into the wall. I reached for my gun and opened fire. The cat took off. I missed him by a whisker.

This game of cat and mouse has gone on every night since.

If you pass me on the street, don't bother saying hello. I read where it can be dangerous to wake up a sleepwalker.

Bob Grady worked at the Press-Republican for about 40 years, as a reporter and then editor. For 20 of those years, he wrote a weekly humor column. He retired in February 2011.