I still haven’t figured out how the cat understands that when waking a sleeping person, it’s best to start out with a whisper. And I haven’t figured out how he manages to meow at a level best described as a feline whisper, but he has it down to an art form. He’s learned to vocalize at a level somewhere in between exhaling a breath and sounding like a brand new kitty.

And this is how he wakes me on the mornings when he’s too hungry to wait but doesn’t seem to want to annoy me. Cat nose a hair’s breadth away from mine, and a tiny “meow?” that suggests he’s asking, “Hey, are you in there?” He’ll poke softly at my face with his paw and repeat. “Hellllloooo?”

Granted, most mornings he just wants me up, so he stands where he can’t get hit by the jettison from the squirt bottle and hollers his little fool head off, but once in a while (days when the Spouse Thingy has left for work, so Max doesn’t feel compelled to let the whole world know that he thinks the Man overslept…) he tries the gentle approach.

“Are you in there? If you are, I’m awfully hungry. I know it’s still half an hour until breakfast, but I think my tummy is turning inside out, and if I don’t get to eat soon, I’ll be forced to resort to munching on that dry stuff, so would you please please please wake up? I’ll love you forever if you get up right now and feed me.”

If I don’t open my eyes, he’ll keep this up until it really is time to get up and feed him. Nonstop, under the breath, meowing. And poking.

If I so much as twitch, try to squint without really opening my eyes to see him, or if I even just roll over, I’m fair game. There’s no longer the pretense of kitty kindness; The Woman is OBVIOUSLY awake, so the dragging her out of bed shall commence.

I made that mistake this morning.
I moved.
I only moved my arm, but that was enough.

There was 14 pounds of excited feline crawling all over me, pouncing on my head, his meowing escalating to levels of “Oh joy! She’s awake! She’s going to get up and feed me!”

It’s the Kitty Hallelujah Chorus, complete with dancing in ecstasy, his little paws jamming into my boobs and tummy, his head butting up against mine. It’s Kitty Christmas, only I’m Santa and I’m offering him the use of my opposable thumbs to get that can open. For all I know it’s Kitty Sex, the closest he’ll ever get, since we had him neutered.

I dragged myself up, shuffled to the kitchen to feed him, then shuffled back to bed, thinking I would lie in bed and watch some news while I took more time to wake up. Less than a minute later, he was back, licking his chops, smelling of ground up fish and shrimp. He jumped up on the bed and meowed again—not so quietly this time—which I initially interpreted as, “It took you freaking long enough to get up.”

But then he walked up the aide of the bed and plopped down, snuggling up to me.
Kitty Spooning.
He started purring, his head on my shoulder, paws pulling my arm in close to him.

Some mornings he irritates the crap out of me with the nonstop hollering, the jumping up and down on me, the head butting and deliberate attempts to get me out of bed Right Then And There. But then there are these mornings, when he’s been quiet all night and just wants someone to get up because he’s hungry and can’t open the can himself; the mornings when he’s cute and seemingly appreciative.

Those are the mornings when I think to myself, “Yeah, I’ll let him live one more day…”

We’ll see about tomorrow.

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