I win…but I still lose.
For the last year I have been engaged in a war of wills.
Here is my opponent.
His name is Merlin, and this was photo was taken recently -.sometime around his nineteenth birthday. He has a questionable history. But he was reported to be two years old when we adopted him, and that was seventeen years ago this week.
Nineteen cat years equates to 92 on the cat-to-human-age conversion chart. Lest you think that an old feline is a sweet pussycat, let Merlin correct you.
He is a cranky pest. Oh, I love him. He has shared my life almost as long as my husband has. But feline dementia is just plain annoying.
He paces. He walks in counterclockwise (always counterclockwise) circles around us. It’s harmless enough, but you’d be surprised how it gets on your nerves. He gives new meaning to the word ‘lap-cat’, especially after eighty laps.
He claws at us. That is, he taps us on the shin with his claws exposed. He taps us for food, but mostly for attention. We sit at dinner. He taps. We sit and watch TV, he taps. He follows us into the bathroom, and he taps.
Merlin also taps to be picked up, and that’s where the big disagreement started.
Last year, with his stiff back legs, Merlin could no longer climb or jump onto the bed. So we’d go to bed and he’d tap against the bed. And scratch our beautiful sleigh bed.
So I’d pick him up. And in his senility, he’d jump down (he can still jump down, just not up). And he’d scratch again. And I’d pick him up. And he’d jump down. When I am ready for bed, I’m ready. FOR BED. I don’t want to play cat games.
So I enhanced our beautiful sophisticated bedroom decor…
with plastic steps.
And the war began. Merlin wasn’t grateful for the new steps. He hated them He wouldn’t use them. He continued to scratch the bed.
(I know what you’re thinking…Just put him out of the room… Yes, but we have three other cats and the protest quartet is unbearable.)
So I’d get out of bed and walk Merlin up the steps, nudging his scrawny legs like I used to walk my dolls fifty-something years ago. And he would obstinately and obnoxiously jump down. And scratch. Repeat. Repeat.
But I am an intelligent and mature human being. I can outlast a senile pissed-off cat.
And I did.
It took four months.
Four months of walking him up those steps over and over every night while he stubbornly resisted.
Then one evening, my husband and I went to bed, and about ten minutes later, Merlin quietly and without fanfare walked up those ugly steps.
And he has done so every night since.
And at four-thirty every morning…
He walks counterclockwise around and around me, until,
‘tap, tap, tap’ – on my bare shoulder.
Apparently, four-thirty is breakfast time in feline dementia world.