Thursday, October 28, 2010

Are we bad parents?

Therese and i have been struggling with a dilemma recently. It was bad for a while, then got better maybe, and then it crushed our will to live for the past week. But today i feel great. Here's what happened.

This post isn't about Beijing life, per se. It's about cat ownership, which is also cool. We've got two cats, Muse and Maze. Most cat parents will tell you they go crazy at 4 am because, you know, they are crepuscular. (slight pause for those googling the definition.)

Therese and i are both light sleepers, her more so than me, but life is a drag when you aren't sleeping much. Parenthood, amiright? Maze is a total asshole at 4 in the morning, here is a list of the ways she sucks:
  • scratching on the door to come in/get out.
  • scratching on the dresser or bed when we leave the door open.
  • jumping on the furniture/knocking crap off.
  • batting that crap around the room.
  • mewing for no reason.
  • cleaning her nether regions inches from my face.
Muse has been mostly good as long as we've had her, but i think she's picking up bad habits now. So we've been running experiments on how to control or sway this behavior and have finally had some success.

We decided to try giving the cats free reign of the house, it sucks. Moving on.

A while back i tried keeping a water bottle by the bed, then when she scratched, i'd burst forth and drench her in a powerful stream of water. Sometimes i would even corner and soak her. Returning to bed, it would buy us approximately 5 minutes before she returned to scratch again.

RESULT: Failure, but kinda fun. Does that make me a bad parent?

While giving them full access to bedroom, we found we could get peaceful nappy time until about 4 am, at which time the freakshow begins. I purposely set my threshold extremely low. If i'm woken up one time, i lock her in the bathroom.

RESULT: Failure. Unfortunately, she doesn't like that and i feel guilty. Plus, we can still here her clawing at the door and mewing. If we close our bedroom door, then Muse wants to get in or out. I think this ultimately makes me a good parent.

This clever idea came from Joe. Basically, Maze is the main problem, not Muse, so i wanted to devise a way to keep only Maze out. Fortunately, Maze is fat and lazy. I closed the door on a baking tray filled with water and blocked the door from behind so it couldn't open. That left just enough room for us to squeeze out the open door, but would require a cat to walk through water to get in. Muse figured it out and made the leap, but Maze could not.

RESULT: Hilarious Failure. Sometime in the night, Maze tried the jump and plunged into the water. I heard it, picked her up and discarded her from the room, thinking she would not try that again. She didn't, but she just scratched on the door all night instead.

Therese and i were actually at the very end of our ropes, but she found another idea online and we gave it a go last night. You close the door, leave a vacuum cleaner out side the door, but plug it in near your bed. When they scratch on the door, plug it in.

RESULT: AWESOME. Right on cue, the cat(s) started messing with the door. Therese wasted no time and set off the vacuum bomb at the door, followed by CHAOTIC SOUNDS OF FEAR AND SCRAMBLING. I think they tried one or two more times, each time with horrifying, vacuum-induced, terror-kitty results. We slept.

So i pose a question: If we use the one thing they are terrified of beyond comprehension to scare them into leaving us alone, are we bad parents? Probably, but at least we're well-rested.


UPDATE: Night two of the Vacuum Test was a restful success. Began evening with several vacuum blasts before lights out. Cats appear respectful and wary of vacuum. Zero scratching all night. Night three data forthcoming.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Whatever works! One thing we tried with kids is buy an inexpensive kiddy (kitty) -size vacuum so they can "help." Mom