An owner’s manual

Doesn\'t he look innocent?

Doesn't he look innocent?

That’s Walter. One of two feline members of the family. His full name, as it appears on record at the Kanawha-Charleston Animal Shelter, is Walter Sobchak — John Goodman’s character in “The Big Lebowski.” He has many silly nicknames like “Big Boy” and “Balter” and now that we’re Maryland residents, he’s been called “Lord Baltermore” a time or two. He’s also affectionately (… said through clenched teeth) known as “Mr. Wizzer” and “Wu” for his tendency to pee on rugs.

(Is it amazing to me that I can feel your judgment pre-emptively? I haven’t even posted this yet and I already hear you snickering at me and saying in your head, “God, they’re lame.” We are. We know it.)

Since Walter’s been part of the family, he’s gone through bouts of insomnia. This, of course, means the humans in the house go through bouts of insomnia. He was an “owner turn-in” at the shelter, and the woman told me when I adopted him that he got brought in because he was alone a lot and the owners didn’t have time to take care of him anymore. You can interpret this to mean that Walter’s a little clingy. In fact, he’s more like a dog most times than a cat. Our other cat, Inky, just sort of goes about her cat life unaware that there are two humans and another cat in the house. Occasionally, she’ll poke her head around a corner and meow and if she feels really adventurous, she’ll roll over on her side which is her way of saying “pet me, but only until I walk away.”

I woke up at 4 a.m. this morning to Walter — standing on my back — meowing at the top of his lungs. This was this first time this week. Last Thursday, he stood at the foot of the bed, same thing. He walked up the bed and stood at my head and meowed. I told him to go away. Dutifully, he jumps across me and stands in front of Brandon and tries the same thing. Brandon, being a far better person than I am, pet him for a while and then told him to go away.

So, anyway, one of the cool things about my job is that I get a ton of stuff in the mail. Today, I got a book called “Happy Cat Happy You.”

It’s billed as quick tips for building a bond with your feline friend. I’m excited. I’ll be reading this on the train on the way home tonight. I already thumbed through it a little and it looks like there are some fun things in there. I know I’ll never really get to the bottom of why Walter wants us all up and at ’em at 4 a.m., but at least I can feel like I tried. It’s not that he’s hungry or that anything’s wrong. He’s just an insomniac.


6 Responses to “An owner’s manual”

  1. 1 Paige
    July 22, 2008 at 6:36 pm

    Cats are nocturnal, JJ. It’s not insomnia, it’s just that he’s wired to sleep when you’re awake. Cats will sometimes do this. Chip occasionally does this to me (except with tiger claws instead of meows) at 0430, knowing damn well that I’m sleeping. He doesn’t want fed, he just wants someone to get up and walk around. So I get up, cuss at him, put food in the bowl that he won’t eat for a few hours, and go back to bed. And he calms down. He just wanted to let me know that he was the boss of me, and that he had every right to deprive me of sleep an hour before I had to get up. And Walter may be doing the same. Just fling him from the bed and try not to let his skull hit any sharp corners.


    –“Owns” four cats

  2. July 22, 2008 at 9:03 pm

    I swear, he’ll go to bed right when we do and then it must be at some point he’s over it and he goes and starts prowling. This morning I said, “For the love of GOD, Walter, this is getting old.”

    I think he has a problem with the fan we use. When it was winter we didn’t have the fan because it was cold. Now there’s a stand fan that blows air on us all night and I think he hates it. He doesn’t sleep with us when the fan is on. Some nights, we turn the fan off.

    You’re right though — you don’t own cats. They totally own you.

  3. 3 Paige
    July 22, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    Eh, next time you think he’s sleeping at night, check. They’re like Chuck Norris…they don’t sleep, they wait. hehe

    The new kitten has been curling up next to me and purring like a motorboat for the last three nights. That’s starting to get irritating. Very cute, but irritating.

  4. July 23, 2008 at 7:26 am

    I know your pain, girl. My cat chooses night time to play fetch. She’ll bring her toy and drop it on my chest. If I don’t respond then she sits on my chest and meows.

    Also highly recommended. Try being sound asleep and have your cat sleeping on the pillow next to you— and then she sneezes in your ear. It scares the bejesus out of you when your sound asleep.

  5. 5 Angela
    July 29, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    Hey, that’s awesome. The gal who wrote this book is a friend/work associate of mine. She’s so awesome. I love her. Very cool, love. Very cool.

  6. July 29, 2008 at 8:05 pm

    Holy crap, if you talk to her, tell her we finished the book and WE LOVED IT. We read it cover to cover and it was GREAT. I’d recommend it to anybody!

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