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Cheryl Hughes: Do Not Disturb

Cheryl Hughes

You know those little door hangers they have at hotels that say DO NOT DISTURB, I brought one home with me from our hotel in London.  The hanger has a picture of a cat curled up asleep with the words, 

WE’RE HAVING A CAT NAP, PLEASE DO NOT DISTURB.  On our last day in London, I asked the concierge at the hotel if it was alright if I took the hanger home with me, or did I need to pay for it, to which he responded, “Oh, put that in your bag, and I’m assuming you have the bathrobe in your other bag there beside you.”  (I love the British wit.)

I brought the door hanger with me with the intention of teaching Brother Cat how to read.  He is one of those cats who thinks if he’s awake, the entire household needs to be up and at it.  Both Brother and Sister cats are inside/outside cats, but it varies as to which times are which.  They will go for a week at a time sleeping in the house during the day then prowling around outside at night before their circadian rhythm switches, then they are in the house at night.

When they were little tykes, I made it quite clear that they were not allowed in my bedroom.  I value my sleep above all else.  Sister listened, but Brother slowing wore me down, and before long, both cats would curl up at our feet, where Sister slept quietly for the rest of the night.  Brother, however, believes his fur should be stroked while he is lulled to sleep by the repetitive motion of my hand.  Half a dozen times a night, he will be back and forth, kneading my hair like biscuit dough, walking on my back or pushing his face up under the elbow of the arm I am using to shield my face from his interference.  If I put him in the hall and shut the bedroom door, he scratches relentlessly at the door and the floor until I’m nearly crazy.  I know, I know, it’s at this point that any sane person would put his little rear end outside, but we all know I’m not any sane person or I wouldn’t have cats named, Brother and Sister.

The reason I believed I might be able to teach Brother to read, or at least understand the picture of the sleeping cat, is because he is such a quick study at most things.  If I forget to put the canister of Greenies back in the cabinet after I’ve given he and Sister a few, the next morning, I will find the plastic container on the kitchen floor, lid open, with the few bits they were too stuffed to eat scattered about under the counter.  

Brother is also able to put two and two together.  If he is outside and wants in, he will climb to the roof of my car and wait until I come to the window over my kitchen sink, then catch my eye by mouthing the word “meow.”  No sound, just the word.  Gets me every time.

Not only is Brother smart, he is also the most persistent little feline I’ve ever owned.  Sometimes, when I have leg spasms, I sleep on the couch, with my face turned toward the back and my legs as close to the back cushions as I can get them.  The cushions absorb the jerking motions, and I am better able to sleep.  When Brother discovers I’m no longer in bed, he comes looking for me, and finding me on the couch, he will wedge his little self between me and the back of the couch, then wiggle his way up to my face, where he bumps my lips with his nose to announce his arrival and his subsequent expectation to be rubbed until he falls asleep.

A few nights ago, I was determined not to let him get away with that, so I clung to the back of the couch with all my might.  Try as he did, he could not get himself between me and the couch.  It was a contest of wills, and I was winning.  He finally climbed down off my body and stood behind my shoulders.  As I was congratulating myself on the victory, I felt a cat paw place itself firmly on my left cheek.  With one swift movement, Brother turned my face around until we were eyeball to eyeball.  The smug look on his face said, “Don’t toy with me, woman.”


If ever there was a cat who could be taught to read, it would be Brother Cat.  More than likely, he can already read, he just chooses to ignore all the signs with directives that begin with the words DO NOT.


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