Like small children, pets have habits, routines and rituals that they adhere to. Chaos ensues when life interferes with the routine. This is exactly why I always hated subbing in elementary classrooms; break the routine and I’d have a height-impaired revolution on my hands. Similarly, my cats expect two scoops at breakfast and at dinner, broken up by me wandering around working on things in between scoop delivery. I could just as easily give them the same amount of food in one scoop, but their furry little brains can only focus on the fact that THERE WAS ONLY ONE SCOOP!!!!
At bedtime, the routines continue. I push all furry bodies out of the way, trying to convince them that I am the biggest “cat” in the room. I attempt to lay down and read for a while, but that is when the leaping and creeping begins. Bella heads for my chest and parades back and forth in the space between my nose and the book. We negotiate: she may lay on my chest but not with her cat butthole pointed at my face. The other three take turns alternating leaps on to the bed, landing on and kneading my stomach, bladder and legs. Sookie will spin in circles because this is the one time of the day that I, her owner, am ALLOWED to pet her without her cringing and running. Miles and Birdie may individually settle at or between my feet. Eventually, someone will upset Bella and she will hiss and run to the end of the bed.
The bedtime ritual intensifies when I’ve been away from home multiple nights in a row. Over Thanksgiving I was out of the house for three nights. In response to my extended absences, Bella’s cuddling space decreases dramatically. Instead of laying on my chest, she planted herself on my neck as if I was wearing a 12 pound fur scarf. Purring volume increased along with paw taps to the face. (When I adopted her, she won me over with a paw caress to my cheek.) Ultimately, she was wrapped beard-style around my chin, licking my cheek and inexplicably trying to stick a back paw in my mouth. Who am I to upset the routine.