Tuesday, April 24, 2007

It's Four A.M. Why aren't you up yet?

My cat Friday is too intelligent for his own good. Some might call him a problem solver, but those who have lived with him have often called him a troublemaker. Obstacles do not daunt him. He will puzzle over a situation tirelessly until he achieves his desired result. This has created numerous opportunities for me to overcome difficult behaviors to live with and to marvel at his intelligence.

His problem solving abilities enabled him to learn how to open doors. Seriously. He stands on his back legs, places a front paw on either side of the knob and twists. By carefully studying my actions, Friday learned the steps necessary to open a door. First, he tried touching the doorknob with his paws. When that failed to open the door, he studied my actions more intently. Finally, after much poking and prodding, he realized that he had to turn the doorknob. It chills my blood to think that the creature who shares my pillow every night is that smart. Luckily, his super-fluffy paws mean that he has to be very determined to turn the knob since his paws often slip and make it difficult to get a firm grip.

Friday’s problem solving skills have created other “amusing” habits. As a kitten, he slept less and he bounded out of bed around four a.m. I was a college student at the time and lived rent-free with gracious parents. As far as I was concerned, there was only one four on my clock and it was followed by p.m.

My mother habitually rises at 4:45 and Friday would often keep her company as she prepared for her day. Soon, however, it was not enough for him to play with Mom. Friday decided that if he were awake I should be awake, so he expected me to get up and play too. I am a late riser and I have been known to be very cranky when woken, but Friday has never minded my bad moods.

It began with his paws on my face. Naturally, this woke me, but I did not want to react. I knew that if I responded in any way Friday would know how to wake me and therefore would continue the behavior. Sometimes, I would feign sleep, roll over and put the pillow over my head to block his attempts; but cat paws are narrow and he would only slide one under the pillow and rub my face. I hoped that by pretending to sleep he would give up and go away. He did not give up. He simply changed his tactics.

Being such an intelligent creature, Friday had often observed that I rose from bed when the alarm clock began playing music; so, his next plan of attack was to make the alarm clock sound. I know I said he is smart but thankfully programming electronics is beyond his reach. He sniffed at it. He poked it with his paws. He even stood on it, but all to no avail. The alarm clock did not go off. Sadly, it actually woke me as my subconscious recognized a distinct creaking noise made by the plastic on the clock. I’ll admit I was impressed with his actions. It was even a bit funny. It is hard to feign sleep when you are snickering but I did my best. Looking at the time on the clock seemed to help.

Friday pondered the problem some more. He realized that I was awake when my eyes were open. Not a problem. He sat on the pillow and he tried to lift one of my eyelids with a paw. (You think I’m kidding. I wish I were.) I kept my eyes closed until he repeated the process and used a claw. That worked. My eyes snapped open. I can fake many things but claws in my eyelids typically prevent me from faking sleep. In the end, I am forced to confess that I underestimated Friday. He won that round but I do have my limits. He may have woken me, but he could not make me get out of bed. We never reached a solution that made us both happy. However, as Friday grew older he began to sleep later. Now, nearly eight years have passed and I am the one waking him up. Revenge is sweet!

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Susan said...

Ah yes, the kitty kat alarm clock. Our kats go off at 4:14 am every morning, like...clockwork. If they don't and the regular alarm goes off at 5:45 am we think there is something terribly wrong with the kats!

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