Tuesday, February 10, 2004

It was a dark and stormy night. A cat meowed...

...and meowed, and meowed.

We are having problems with Socks, our 11-year-old longhaired tabby. Around 3 a.m. every night, he starts meowing. Little triplets of meows.

Socks has been meowing in the middle of the night for years, but usually there is only one episode, and it ends after you call out his name a few times.

Now, he has meowing fits about once an hour, and gallumphs madly around the upstairs (where we sleep). The other night I looked down the hall and saw him fly by a couple feet off the ground.

Socks, who was born in the woods to a feral mother and rescued by a rather clueless family, has always been a timid, nervous cat. He's not bright, but he has the "flight" response down to a "t." He fled the family (our neighbors) and after a few months of scrounging around moved in with us when he was about six months old. I couldn't touch him by daylight, but at night he'd creep up to the head of the bed and let me pet him.

Now he's quite a cuddler, and spends most of the afternoons sleeping on my desk or in my lap (he's part Ragdoll). But let there be the slightest noise, and he's off, with a horrible clatter of claws on the hardwood floor. You can't catch him, you can't pill him--you can't even find him. He is like a SF creature, able to flatten himself to a micron to get under sofas. Hours later, sure the UPS guy must be gone from the porch, he drags himself out from under a slipcover.

At our old place, Socks had been a real outdoors animal, living in the overgrown field beside our house. After we moved here, he got into the habit of going out only at night (with Betaille) or during the day when I was in the yard. Suddenly, about a month ago, he refused to go out at all. And the nocturnal meowing started.

My current plan is to grab him after he wakes us up, lug him down to the garage, and lock him in there for the night (where we can't hear him). The problem is, you can grab Socks only once, and I don't fancy nightly races around the house. Perhaps the solution is earplugs.

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