Every morning it starts with sweet purring. In the deep darkness of my room it starts as a gentle and delicate lulling, but intensifies in to a full-fledge roar, as if someone had started a cat-themed, completely upgraded monster truck on the pillow to my left.
The steady sound begins to change in pattern as the claws literally come out and I hear (and feel) the pressure and pulling of determined, kneading paws on my duvet.
This is usually when I make the mistake of petting my cat, Cairo, in hopes he will accept the attention and go back to sleep.
It is 5:34 a.m., after all, and instead of reading a headline live at 6:18 a.m. as I did for the morning show from April to December of last year, I now have my first newscast at 10. Cairo apparently enjoyed my morning shift and is still having trouble with this transition.
When I do not stir to his liking I am hit directly in the nose with his forehead and a hearty MEOW is breathed into my face. While the cartilage in my nose cracks and I say, “Cairo, STOP,” he scatters.
He returns to exact revenge. He starts by pushing everything off my nightstand, one by one. When he completes this task, he looks back at me and puts out another MEOW.
Distress signal mom! Your alarm is going off and it’s 6:08 a.m.! You’re late!
False, fluffy one, false. I roll over.
Then he hits the dresser, jumping to the top and toying with whatever he finds first, then wailing at the ceiling.
It’s 6:17 a.m., exactly one minute before my alarm’s snooze function turns off and exactly one minute before my former headline. Moooooommmmm you’re gonna miss it!
He returns to the bed and then hits me repeatedly with his face. Seriously. He hits me all over the head with his FACE until he gets tired and settles in the crook of my arm. I have heard these headbutts are like cat kisses. But then I get real cat kisses, obsessively, from a tongue that must be made of needles and Lego bricks. Sometimes my face, sometimes my arm, but I always open my eyes and sigh to see the precious with his little eyes closed, paws wrapped around me, desperately wanting his crunchy chicken and rice flavored mini-blobs and very concerned about what time it is.
It’s 6:40 a.m. I should probably get up at this point, though I usually don’t. The dog is sound asleep through most of this, though she occasionally gets growly when Cairo attempts to awake her to join his efforts and the alarm I set for an hour early for the sole purpose of "waking up slow" does not phase her. Eventually, I become tired of the standard iPhone alarm sounds and get up.
By 7:30 a.m., all is right with the world. Both creatures have been fed their dry kibbles. One has been taken outside. I get ready for work.
Now, you’d think by the time I returned home and it was dinner time, the cat would have choreographed an elaborate dance routine, prepared a simple song on the harmonium, or at least done some cleaning around the place to make sure this meal was forthcoming, but no. Instead, every day I hear him practically bust his long tail as he tries to go from where he was sleeping in my upstairs bedroom to the door, meowing in a panic through the seal while I get the mail, only to immediately flop onto his back for a quick belly rub when I get inside, then bolt up into the kitchen.
No bells, no whistles, just kibble this time, lady.