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October 23, 2013


The Ultimate Weapon: The Water Bottle

by Anne Paddock

I’m tired. Bone-weary, dizzy, worn out. More exhausted than when I had a newborn, or when I flew back from Hong Kong with my infant daughter and swore to my husband that I must have a brain tumor because I was so off-balance that each step gave me vertigo. Handing him the baby because I didn’t trust my coordination was all I could do before I hit the pillow and fell into a deep sleep. Of course, I didn’t have a brain tumor; I felt fine the next day. But my current condition is different. I am chronically sleep deprived.

Every morning between 4:30 – 5:00 am, my cat, Luke starts knocking on my bedroom door because he wants his breakfast. Sometimes, I throw a pillow at the door creating a loud bang which causes the little mouser to scurry across the floor but he returns 5 minutes later and starts digging at the door with a vengeance. So, I get in-touch with my 2-year old self and shout “no” with a voice of authority and the knocking stops for about a minute and then resumes. Determined cat. All I can think about is what’s going to happen when daylight savings moves the clock back…visions of 3:37 am dance in my head.

Finally, I get up  and open the door. He looks up at me, meows and then rolls over, showing me his tummy asking for a belly rub. No such luck lover boy (his nickname) but, I can’t help but smile at him because he is the sweetest cat in the world…..if he would only let me sleep for 2 more hours. My husband complains that if he woke me up at 4:47 am in the morning, I would be all over him, but not in the way he wants and I have to admit, there is some truth to that. I am not the most pleasant person when I don’t get my sleep.

I’ve tried locking Luke in another room but he either figures out how to open the door (the smart, dexterous little guy uses his two front paws to turn the handle) or he meows in his loudest voice until someone gets up and opens the door. I’ve  also tried to go to bed earlier but it’s hard for me to turn out the lights before 11 because I love spending an hour reading in bed, which sometimes stretches to midnight. So, I’ve been functioning on less than 5 hours of sleep, hardly enough to get through the day without a nap.

This past week Luke had his annual vet exam and as expected, there was some discussion about his weight. “15.93 pounds” is what the vet said before she asked me how much I feed him. I could tell that this was a serious question because who gives a pet’s weight in the decimal point to the hundredths? I’ve heard 15.9 but never 15.93. Feeling like a bad parent, I truthfully said he gets 1/4 cup, three times a day of his special dental cleaning cat food that claims to remove plaque (he was born with bad teeth and won’t let me brush them) in an effort to avert paying $800 every year to have his teeth cleaned.

After much discussion, we concluded Luke needs more exercise because he is an indoor cat. “Make him work for his food” is what the vet advised. Easier said than done, but I came home and ordered cat feeding devices with slots and doors (who sits around and thinks of these things?) designed to make him work for his pellets. I still have to figure out how to keep the dog away from these patent pending machines because sweet cat that he is, Luke always defers to the dog.

I asked the vet for advice on Luke’s early morning door banging activities. She told me to never give in because if I do, he will never forget and continue the behavior. No kidding. The cat’s out of the bag on that one. Second, she recommended I hide his food so that he can spend the night hunting for it. Well, I thought about that and realized I can’t very well say “OK Luke, I’m hiding your food tonight so don’t bang on my door..use your hunting instincts to find the pot of gold.” Finally, as an afterthought the vet suggested I buy a water bottle squirter and spray him with water every time he bangs on the door. This has possibilities…..weapons of mass saturation..

Yesterday over lunch, my daughter asked me about Luke’s early morning habits and I told her I needed to go to the hardware store to buy a bottle that squirts water. She turned to me and said “Oh, I see….it’s time to bring out the big guns.” Drastic times call for drastic measures.

  1. Oct 24 2013

    Thanks so much. I’m hopeful on the water bottle…and best of luck with your puppy!

  2. Oct 24 2013

    Loved your story! Hope the squirter works and you get more sleep. Interestingly, when my now 7-month-old puppy was younger and up to all sorts of tricks, the vet suggested a squirty water bottle to train him out of bad habits. Seems water bottles have multiple uses!

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