Over the years I have come to appreciate that our pets love routines in their lives much as many of us humans do. There is a sense of security in routines I suspect. Our eleven year old cat, Miss Millie, has one particular routine that I thought might be interesting to share.
It started innocently enough sometime back in 2012. At the house we were living in then we had the rubbish and recycling bins situated outside the front of the house. It was my habit to take out the days rubbish and put it in the bin before I went to bed each night. Miss Millie took to parading along our low TV cabinet whilst I went out the front door and would continue to do so when I returned, trying to get my attention I suppose. So suckered in me took to stopping and giving her a pat as she performed her little back and forth meandering. This then progressed to her jumping down on to the rug in front of the TV cabinet and stretching out and about with the temptation of an exposed soft fluffy belly to pat. I would then sit down beside her and give her a good patting.
I remember that is how it started but I don’t recall exactly how this transformed into a twice daily routine, morning and night, which I have named “pat-a-cat”. This is requested, nay demanded, by Miss Millie when I finish meditating in the morning and again as soon as the TV is turned off at night. At some point it also evolved into using a special glove with a rubber grip covered with little studs designed to collect excess hair removed during the patting process. Miss Millie refuses to be touched by any sort of brush but somehow she just tolerates this glove as being close to a normal hand patting.
This has become a real positive from the process because what we believe is her Norwegian Forest Cat heritage means that she has a lot of long hair that she licks out, ingests, and then vomits up later as fur balls which is not a pleasant experience for either Millie or us. The incidence of fur ball activity is now greatly reduced by the pat-a-cat process with the glove.
Millie joined our family as a rescue cat from the RSPCA pound and made her mastery of her new household evident from the moment of her arrival, see my earlier post Millie Arrives. The carer at the pound had christened her “Squeaky” and we also soon found out that Millie is not reticent in expressing herself. I am amazed at the range of vocabulary she seems to have but she does get somewhat frustrated when I don’t understand what she is trying to express. Most mornings as I am just about to finish meditation I will hear this “miaow” beside me and feel the brush of soft fur against my leg. She is understanding though and goes on to her mat and waits for me to finish, arising only when I have finished and leads the way to the pat-a-cat area. Other times as soon as I stand up from meditation there will be a “miaow” from the doorway which is continued as she leads the way down to our pat-a-cat area in our bedroom. At night as soon as the TV is turned off in our lounge a “miaow” will announce her arrival in the lounge and the “miaows” are repeated until her and I arrive in the pat-a-cat area. There is no escaping the constant “miaows” until satisfaction is achieved.
What is the process itself? It starts with her lying half on her left side with me sitting on the floor beside her. I then pat with long strokes down her right side, her head and back and when she lifts her chin, down under her chin and her mane at the front. After a little while she will get up, go around in a half circle then lie down on her right side so that the left of her body can be patted. She may do this change over again but then when she decides she has had enough pleasure, there is a limit obviously, she will suddenly get up without any warning and sit down again out of reach and sort of glare at me as if to say, that’s it, don’t come near me. This takes all of a couple of minutes. It doesn’t seem a lot for the amount of noise she makes to get it going but it just has to be done.
When our beautiful old cavoodle, Miss Daisy, was with us she used to get quite concerned when I succumbed to the pat-a-cat request and I could only put it down to her own experiences of getting close to Millie which would result in claws and bites. I always felt she thought I was risking my life getting down and patting the cat. She would sometimes ease her way in to give moral support by sitting behind me while I patted Miss Millie. I am sure Miss Millie still misses Miss Daisy as they did have a bit of a chasing game most mornings. Miss Millie chasing Miss Daisy that is and we would sometimes have our attention drawn to it by the mad scrambling of Miss Daisy’s paws on the wooden floor as she desperately tried to evade a sneak attack by Miss Millie.
Since Miss Daisy’s passing Miss Millie has added a third element to the pat-a-cat routine. As I make the first stirring from sleep in the morning there will be a “miaow” from the bottom of the bed, the pat-a-cat area. The first time I noticed this I mistakenly rolled over to the end of the bed and reached down to give the waiting mistress of the house a brief pat. This is now formally a part of her routine and every morning without fail my first sound i hear on wakening is the summons. If I choose to ignore it Miss Millie will come around to the side of the bed “miaowing” all the way and then back to the end of the bed until I comply with the instruction. It only needs to be a brief sans-glove pat but still, it must be done.
My wife says Miss Millie has me wrapped around her little finger (as if Miss Millie had fingers) but I rationalise it like this. Miss Millie only asks for her pat-a-cat’s and her food to be replenished in the morning, all of which only take in total about fifteen minutes of my day, a small price for the ongoing conversations we have and the enormous amount of love and affection I receive in return.