Thursday, July 29, 2010

So Is There Any Particular Reason Why You're Sitting In The Litter Box?

A few days ago, I'm sitting at the computer, when I hear a voice from the other room. "Cleo, what are you doing?" I walk over and find the smaller of my two black cats sitting in the litterbox. Not doing or planning anything, just relaxing. It's like lounging on the couch watching TV. If the couch was a toilet.

It's not the fact that she was sitting in the litterbox that's so bizarre so much as if anyone was to do it. . . she's the one I would least expect to behave in such a way. For the most part, she's a fairly calm, composed, and collected little feline. I wouldn't say snobby, more like high class. She refuses to drink from the water bowl, like the other cats do. No, she'll only enjoy a refreshing drink straight from the running tap.

The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized that she is kind of weird. Now, don't get me wrong, all cats are weird. That's the purpose of this blog. But she's pretty exceptional. She's also pretty. You better tell her that. Right now.

Are you ever minding your own business, in your own little world, doing your own thing, when you suddenly feel that someone is watching you? You feel the eyes on the back of your head, you get nervous, you start to look around. Then you see a little cat staring at you, mouth and nose lost in her black face, only her large, unblinking eyes gazing at you? Into your very soul?

This happens to me on a regular basis. I'll be watching TV or working on the computer or eating my noms and I'll turn to see her staring at me. Now, I'm not being paranoid. I know the difference between looking at something and staring at it. And she is definitely staring at me. With morbid curiosity.

Imagine if you came across an animal you'd never seen before. You don't know what to call it or feed it, you just know that it breathes and makes noise. What is it? What's it supposed to be? Who's responsible for this train wreck?

Her diligent observation leads me to believe that she was sent here as a sort of cat zoologist (but we're on the other side of the bars). Cat zoologists study and observe our behavior, then report their findings back to the mother ship. I don't know what they use this research for - perhaps they use it to enrich their understanding of Planet Earth. Or maybe they use it to pinpoint our weaknesses.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

No Sleeping On The Job

It's 3:14 AM and you're in the deepest stage of sleep, the period where your body gets most of the benefits of rest. You're dreaming about a world without litterboxes; it's really a very happy place. You feel warm and content and - and - and you can't breathe? Your chest feels heavy and there's this horrible, moist, fishy aroma in the air.


You wake up, dazed and confused, and see two bright wide eyes peering back at you. It's a cat, sitting on your chest, watching you sleep and slapping you awake. Job well done, cat. You push the feline off the bed and roll over, curling up beneath the sheets. A moment later. . .

Sleep is a precious time you share with your one true love, the pillow. Why doesn't your cat want you to sleep? What did you ever do that was so horribly wrong?

There are two theories about why your cats want to play and hug and cuddle in the middle of the night, while ignoring all attempts at affection during "normal" hours. Today I'll be discussing the slightly more paranoid theory.

It's not that cats don't like us or think we're stupid - quite the opposite, in fact. Cats understand the importance of sleep on a person's cognitive function and motor skills. They also understand the importance of planning ahead, even for something that's a long ways down the road.

Fact: A person with a good night's rest is more likely to put up a fight than someone who needs two cups of coffee in the morning to spell his first name. When the cats' PSA declaring world domination goes on air, the sleep deprived humans will stare at their TV screen in a stupor, submitting to the aliens' demands without struggle.

The best thing you can do when a cat wakes you up in the middle of the night is to stroke and assure them that when the time comes, you won't put up a resistance. The faster the world takeoever is, the sooner everything will be back to normal (for cat owners, anyway).

Thursday, July 22, 2010

H2 NO!

On Tuesday, I brought up a theory about why cats sleep so much. It's just that - a theory. I am not a cat. I do not speak to cats (well, I do, but they just look at me in disdain). I don't actually know what cats are like as aliens. I can only assume and make educated guesses based on the evidence I've seen.

Giving a cat a bath once in a while is both necessary and dangerous. If you don't mind the bloodshed, it's also hilarious. If you've never had the fortune of cleaning a cat, think of it as washing a bar of soap that's covered in cactus needles. And razor blades.

About 70% of the Earth's surface is covered in water. Humans are 65% water. Cats are 65% water. They drink it. They throw their toys on it. They'll sit out in the rain. But if you put them in a tub with two inches of water in it, oh man, they will hurt you. And should you survive the aforementioned ordeal, they will spend days plotting their revenge. Or until their fur dries and you give them some tasty noms.

To be fair, if I looked like this when I got out of the shower, I'd probably be out for blood too.

My theory is that cats have a terrible phobia of large bodies of water. Understandably so, because you can drown in water. Planet Felinus (or whatever you want to call it) is only made up of about 25-40% water, making it significantly easier for cats to avoid anything water related besides little puddles and rain. This enables the phobia, because it didn't give the Original Cats a chance to get over the fear. If many, many generations of cats never see oceans or ponds or bath tubs, that fear will become ingrained into the general personality of cats.

Like all unique creatures, different cats handle this phobia in different ways. Some take the cautious, curious road, such as watching the water faucet for hours on end or staring at you while you take a bath in utter fascination. Others act on their phobia more aggressively, yowling angrily at the sky to make it stop raining or trying to "kill" the bowls of water they're supposed to drink from. No, seriously. We have a two pound rock sitting in the cats' drinking bowl because one of the cats kept tipping the water over and spilling a liter of it on the floor. The laminate wood floor. With plenty of grooves for the water to slip under. Oh, whatever. He sure showed that bowl of water who was boss. Again and again and again.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Needz Moar Z's

Cats sleep about 13-16 hours a day, although particularly lazy cats might average between 18-20. Twenty minutes after a two hour nap, they collapse on your favorite chair in exhaustion, ready for another snooze session.

The big question on everyone's mind is why. Why do cats sleep so much? You'd think for a species bent on taking over the world, they'd dedicate more of their time and resources to, you know, world domination and stuff.

When people sleep, they sleep deep. My mother often jokes about how a bomb could go off right outside my window and I wouldn't so much as roll over. She's probably right. For cats, it's a little different.

For the most part, cats sleep very lightly. If you touch a cat, his head will pop right up and he'll be wide awake. Their ears rotate and register all the sounds that go on around them. They're very much aware.

Now, I'm going to let you in on a little secret: Believe it or not, cats only need to sleep for two hours a day. The rest of the time? It goes to charging the mother ship.

When you see a cat curled up with its eyes closed and you poke it and it doesn't budge (but it's breathing!) and you wiggle it some more and it still doesn't respond, it's the cat getting its 40 winks. When it's in that light-sleeping stage though, all the energy it gains from rest is going into space.

Part of the reason that our own space program isn't as advanced as we like to imagine it in science fiction is that launching and propelling a craft through space requires massive amounts of energy, which we only know how to provide with fuel and water (solar power is still in the works). The reason cats have been able to travel to other planets is in part due to their ingenious ways of harvesting energy - through the little aliens themselves.

When a cat does its so-called "sleep," it's really radiating a unique form of energy that the mother ship picks up on. Now, in a single nap, a cat may only give off enough energy to power a light bulb, but when you combine all the energy of all the millions of cats on this planet, well then, it looks like you're going places.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Tails: Not Just Handles Anymore

Cats are known for their grace and agility. There are countless stories of cats who fall from tall trees and land on their feet, walking away with such nonchalance you'd think it's something they did on a daily basis. How many cat commercials have there been where the star cat elegantly strolls into the room, waiting to be served noms in a crystal dish?

Ask anyone - a vet, a supposed "cat lover," or even a random person on the street and they'll tell you that the cat's tail is what gives it the balance to crawl in high, narrow spaces. I'm sorry, but that's just not true.

Cat Fanciers Association uses the following as a description for our little extra terrestrials:
This elegant cat gracefully glides across the room on its tall, slender legs.

Now, if any of the members of the CFA actually owned a cat, the description would be more like:

This elongatedly furball waddles over to the foodbowl, but decides to plop down first and have a 20 minute bath in the middle of the living room while you're trying to do housework.

There's very little about the common cat that can be associated with grace and poise. At this very moment, there's about a pound of meow mix scattered all over the kitchen floor because someone crashed into it while running around. There have been many mornings where I've come downstairs to find dining room chairs tipped over or curtains lying in a heap. Further evidence can be found here.

The tail, I believe, has a useful purpose in the lives of cats, even if it isn't for balance. Much like an antenna on an old-fashioned cellphones (or, and we're going way back here, on televisions), cats use their tails for easier communication with the mothership. An erect tail can mean many things, from being frightened or being happy to see you, but it can also mean that the cat is transmitting messages to and from space.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Revelation

It was about about 5:00 AM as I was laying in bed, staring up at the ceiling, sweating like a pig. The fan was on, but it did nothing to fight the heat and humidity. Apart from the fan humming and the obnoxious birds outside chirping their cheerful little heads off, it was relatively quiet. I was just about to drift off to sleep when I heard a loud crash coming from downstairs.

I didn't bother to check - I had a good idea of what happened. One of the cats probably had a spell and started flailing all over the place, knocking over a book, chair, or priceless vase in the process. I sighed, images of furballs dancing in my head. But at that moment, I also had my first revelation.

Cats are aliens.

It wasn't the first time the idea had come up, but it was the first time I gave it serious thought. I mean, it makes sense, doesn't it? The way they spazz out at random hours during the night, how they're supposedly nocturnal but they sleep 25 hours a day, why giving a cat a bath is funny, but dangerous (for the humans). They're both parts weird and cute - and perhaps there's a reason for it.