Thursday, February 12, 2015

Twinks and Jinx: True Creatures of Habit

I don’t think my cats, Twinks and Jinx, are markedly different than most other cats. They’re not purebred felines. They don’t possess any skills worthy of YouTube. And while I think they are adorable, their little faces aren’t expressive enough to become the next Big Thing à la the Grumpy Cat.

But they amuse me, nonetheless.

They have habits that are now absolute rules in the house. Like, for instance, I cannot get up first thing in the morning and stumble over to the Keurig to brew myself some eye-opening coffee. 

Instead, replenishing their food bowls is the first order of business. They act as if they haven't eaten for days - even if there is still food in their bowls. And God forbid  
there is a little circle of emptiness in the middle of the bowl. They will meow as if I’m purposely starving them.

The next thing I have to do is refill their water bowls with fresh water. They will saunter over to it, look at it and then look up at me with an almost disdainful look as if to say, "Hey, lady, what's with the day-old water, here? We need fresh water. Immediately! And don't give us any of that tap stuff, either!"
Once that task has been fulfilled, then – and only then – am I allowed to make myself a cup of coffee.

For the past year or so, I have been carrying my coffee to the living room where I sit on the loveseat and contemplate life. Well, mostly I contemplate the inside of my eyelids and wonder when the caffeine will finally hit my bloodstream. But this habit helps me become a little more civilized and ready for the day. Clearly, the Grumpy Cat and I have much in common first thing in the morning.

Eventually, Vince gets up, brews his own cup of coffee, and joins me for a few moments of quiet before we begin our day.

That is, until Twinks decided that having captive humans available to give her some kitty love was a great idea. She will leap up on the back of the couch and bonk her furry little head against Vince’s to let him know that the kitty petting is about to commence.

Then she climbs down to the arm of the loveseat and waits. Sure enough, Vince starts petting her and she starts purring. This only stops when either (a) Vince tries to move her to the seat of the couch in order to have easier access, which she doesn’t like because it wasn’t her idea or (b) she has had enough kitty attention and jumps down to the floor to give herself a bath.

I can’t decide if I’ve trained our cats – or our cats have trained me. I suspect the latter. Case in point: when we moved into our new house, I brought the treats canister and a bag of treats down to our lower level where the TV is. One night, after we turned off the news and before we headed upstairs to bed, I gave them a handful of treats.

It wasn’t long before they expected this habit to continue. And by “wasn’t long before,” I mean immediately. And by “expected,” I mean demanded.

Since then, the absolute second the television goes silent, they are on high alert meowing and squeaking to let me know it’s time for their treats. It doesn’t matter if we’re fast forwarding through the commercials or simply muting the television, whenever they hear silence, Twinks and Jinx will move to their assigned “spots” to await their treats.

The other day, the cats were on the floor taking their scheduled 6 p.m. kitty siesta and I was watching a program on TV. I accidentally hit the power button on the remote, which of course immediately silenced the TV. And out of the corner of my eye, I saw the cats snap awake. They swiveled their little heads to look at the TV and then – in unison, no less – swiveled back to look at me. And then they moved to their spots. Twinks meowed and Jinx squeaked to let me know it was Treat Time. It was like a well-choreographed routine.

I couldn’t help it – I started to laugh.

And, believe, me, I wanted to give them some treats for that stellar performance, but I resisted. Why?

Because I really don’t want to start the 6 p.m. Treat Time habit. This is partly because our Treats budget would go up exponentially.

But mostly it’s because I think they’ve got me trained enough already.

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