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The head of the household can't leave my feet alone

3:15 ... ish ... a.m.

I am in bed, asleep — toasty beneath a sheet, a blanket and a quilt.

Well, the sheet and half the blanket. The other half, as well as three-quarters of the quilt, mysteriously has found its way to the side of the bed — where it is doing its duty keeping the bed’s other occupant toasty.

My feet, at least, are fully covered when (for some reason known only to the forces of nature, nurture and necessity) my toes fall under attack by claws that decidedly did not descend with the gentility of little cat feet.

This is not a nightly ritual. If it were, we would close off the bedroom so that I could be awakened at 3:15 ... ish ... by claws scratching and pounding at the door.

In a fog, I ask the cat why she is doing this to me and not, say, to the covers-thief sleeping soundly on the other side of the bed.

The cat does not answer. Instead, I scratch at the bed sheet, which diverts her attention long enough to allow the re-stretching of my legs and perchance sleep can return.

The cat settles within the nook of my ankles.

5 ... ish ... a.m.

She has moved, having found the spot which (at that time of night) apparently provides the proper combination of comfort and warmth. If you are of a certain age, and have a cat, you know exactly where she is sleeping.

For everyone else ... she has come to rest against my bladder.

Cat owners, according to recent research that really needn’t have been conducted, find themselves only half as happy as do those who own dogs.

Particularly at the ... ish ... of the wee hours.

The test results come by way of the General Social Survey of the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago — which earlier this year announced that its studies show that the percentage of Americans in 2018 who did not have sex reached a record high.

If these Americans were cat owners, that would explain both results.

Of course, the idea of “owning” a cat is in itself a misnomer’s nightmare. We invite cats into our lives because we are not challenged sufficiently by the 24-7 ... we don’t get enough angst. There is a hole in our genes that can be filled only by the presence of a creature that spends half its life sleeping and the other half training us to behave.

Give them a beer gut and a two-pack-a-day habit, and they could be my father.

Dogs, meanwhile, are our best friends. They are trustworthy, loyal, obedient, brave and true. Heck, given today’s world, dogs could be Boy Scouts.

Cats, ehn ... not so much.

The only reason cats are revered in so many religions and ancient cultures is because it saves time — given that they are born with holier-than-thou attitudes.

Those of us who “own” them, obviously, are the thou.

She does what she wants, eats what she wants, orders us around, yowls without coherency, thinks her droppings don’t need to be covered, loves to be stroked, doesn’t like strangers in the house and basks in our adoration. If she didn’t openly clean herself ... well, there ... she could be president.

Another recent cat study — “Felis catus discriminate their names from other words” (you should see the accompanying charts) — says that because of the way cats process the sounds emanating from their servants, it takes them longer to learn what we call them.

Oh, for heaven’s sake. You know, these stories come across my desk and I wonder how they can get funded — and whether my research into how our cats let us know when the litter box needs changing can pay off my mortgage.

Despite the evidence produced by the medical mumbo-jumbo, cats hear quite well. It’s whether they bother to listen that is the variable.

Our toe-attacker, for instance, graces us with her presence in the living room and proceeds to kneed at the carpet.

“No, stop that,” she is told, gently.

After the second repeat of this cycle, she moves from the floor to a chair, and proceeds to kneed the arm.

“No, stop that,” she is told ... this time with her name added for emphasis.

After the second repeat of this more-agitated cycle, the covers-thief crosses the room and brings into the cat’s proximity a lovely $20 scratching post — upon which she (the cat, not the covers-thief) immediately proceeds to nuzzle as though it were the pair of socks I’d worn yesterday.

Sure, the four-legged highness is toying with us; then again, she’s never been the brightest of our success of felis catus housemates. In the sunspot on the window shelf of our kitchen, we have a wooden tchotchke in the shape of a curled cat that likely is a brighter bulb.

But hers is a simple life — eat, sleep, provide empirical data for my mortgage-paying research project.

As bedtime nears (with the sheet, blanket and quilt mockingly laid out in portions of equal size), the cat comes to let us know in no uncertain terms that it’s time to go to sleep.

Well, it’s time to check her food dish, fill her water bowl, sift through the litter box and drop a new pair of yesterday’s socks on the floor. Then, and only then, can we take our sides of the bed, turn out the lights and settle down for the night.

We couldn’t be happier — for the next few hours ... ish ... at least.

Mail Tribune copy desk chief Robert Galvin is taking a cat nap at rgalvin@rosebudmedia.com.

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