Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Teaching an Old Cat New Tricks

For those of you who don't know, the Wonder Twins are actually not our first "kids." Geof and I got our start in the world of parenting about nine years ago in Fayetteville, Arkansas, when we adopted a 3-week-old. Like most babies, she cries a lot, but unlike most babies, she is furry, runs around on four legs and meows incessantly, when she wants something. Yes, our first "child" is indeed Stella the Cat.

We feel like she is working hard to help prepare us for the sleepless days and nights that will undoubtedly accompany the birth of the Wonder Twins. She starts whining loud enough to wake up the entire neighborhood as soon as the sun rises. Somehow, her need to eat is directly connected to the amount of light entering our bedroom.

In true Daddy form, Geof will try to soothe her, but unless he actually gets up and feeds her, she doesn't stop with the early morning tormenting. Her next move to rouse us from bed is to scratch on the wicker baskets underneath our bedside tables. I can tell she clearly calculates these annoying actions for two reasons: 1.) She doesn't even have front claws to sharpen on the wicker, and 2.) She knows I really like those baskets. To get her to stop, I usually start snapping, clapping or yelling at her. I know, I know. Not exactly "Mother of the Year" material. I guess it doesn't matter, because it never works.

Finally, Geof will reach down in a sleepy haze, pick Stella up and tuck her under his arm like a stuffed animal. Eventually, she calms down, and the meowing ceases. But, it's quickly replaced with the very loud sound of content purring. We don't fight it, though, because it's better than the meowing. Here's a shot I snapped with Geof's Blackberry this morning that shows Stella clearly exhausted after a morning of "let's wake up my sleeping parents."

If you haven't grasped this already, Stella is clearly not a normal cat. She is totally dependent and incredibily needy. Her first choice is always Geof. (Daddy's girl much?) I come in a distant second, if his lap is not available.

We're both extremely curious to see how Stella will react to the twins. I think she's going to be jealous at the lack of attention she gets, even though Geof insists he can hold one of the girls and Stella at the same time. Plus, she doesn't like strangers and is terrified of loud noises. I'm thinking she is not going to dig the sound of two infants crying. Just wait until they're old enough to pull her tail! Yikes!

We're hoping she'll learn to share attention with the twins, but I fear it's going to be tough to teach an old cat new tricks. She's used to getting what she wants when she wants it. Sound like a spoiled only child to you? :) Hopefully, the babies will think her meowing is some type of beautiful music and drift off to sleep whenever she starts "singing" a lullaby.

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