It started innocently enough about four months ago. Locke, our large and fluffy grey and white, would meow at the bedroom door around 7 AM. Cute, right? He knows we get up around 7, and he just wants his cuddle time and food. In the morning, when my first alarm would go off, I’d get out of bed and open the door; both cats would rush in and jump on the bed and cuddle with the humans. Then, when my second alarm would go off, I’d get up and give them their food, and go about my morning.
Slowly, ever so slowly, Locke started meowing earlier and earlier. And he’s not a cat with a feeble, pathetic meow. He’d sit outside the bedroom door, bellycrying, sticking his paws under the door. So I’d get up earlier and earlier, and let him in. Eventually, that wasn’t good enough! He’d continue to meow, even though we’d let him in the room. So I’d get up and feed him. Nope, that’s not what he wanted. Water? Nope. Playtime? Nope. Cuddles? Nope. Petting? Nope! Nothing I could do would appease this cat. We even put him on a leash to take him outside (which he loves, by the way. We just can’t let him outside on his own because the wildlife and other stray cats would tear him to pieces. Not to mention, we’re not exactly suburban. I don’t want him getting hit by cars.)
The past month or so has been pretty unbearable in the early hours in our house. 5:30 AM Locke starts meowing, won’t be consoled. Sometimes, it seems like getting out of bed and sitting on the couch is enough to appease him — oftentimes, it’s not. Sometimes, we thought the birds were enticing him, or a stray cat (or some other animal in the backyard). But there wasn’t enough consistency in what set him off and what consoled him that we had any definitive clue. And we checked the typical things: He’s had the same cat litter since he was a kitten. Had the same cat litter pan, in the same place. His food is the same brand (both dry and wet). He hasn’t been getting any less food in recent months. He has a ton of toys laying around, we make sure to play with him every day. He has “smart” toys (like a little ball that he rolls around to get dry food). He didn’t have anything tragic or startling happen to him recently (or even not-so recently).
Yesterday, he did me in. He cried from 5:30 AM until he cried himself to sleep at 11 AM. Around 8:30 I called the vet and made an appointment for that afternoon because he really just would. not. stop. I mean, there has to be a medical reason, right?
…Apparently not. Apparently, my cat just likes to annoy his human overlords. He has an entirely clean bill of health, and a note that says “exceptionally curious”… mostly due to him jumping around the vet’s examination room like he owned the place. He also “may just be exceptionally sensitive to things going on outside — like birds and animals — and want to play outside, too.” Well, sorry bub, I’m not getting up at 5:30 AM to put you on a leash to take you outside and play for an hour. We need a different solution. The vet recommended kitty pheromones.
Well, it can’t hurt to try, right? So after my second trip to PetSmart in just as many days, Locke now has a kitty pheromone spray and a pheromone diffuser thingy. It’s like a Glade air-freshener, but for kitties. So we’re going to test this stuff out for a month and see what happens. Hopefully it turns my little monster back into the sweet little kitty he was five months ago. While I was at PetSmart, though, I saw something called a ThunderShirt and it (supposedly) works on the same deep-pressure therapy principle that they use for autistic kids. I didn’t pick one up (that’s a pricey $40 right there!) but when I got home I made up one out of some scrap fabric I had lying around the house. I figure it can’t hurt to try it, at the very least. Mine is a clumsy approximation of what they sell in the stores, but if it works I can always either revise my version, or buy an actual ThunderShirt.
And even though I it’s only Day 1, I have to say… today was the first day that I wasn’t woken up at 5 AM by a little meowing buttface kitty! It was almost as if he’d reverted to his old routine… meowing at 7 AM, coming in, and cuddling up right next to me and falling asleep! I actually got 7 hours of unbroken, constant sleep! Now, I’m realistic. It’s Day 1. There’s many more days to come. And if it really is the pheromones that are working, I’d like to get at the root cause of Locke’s issues rather than using the pheromone stuff all the time. Not only is it pricey, but it can’t be good to use it all the time, right? But man, I have to admit… being able to sleep felt really good.