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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Places, Everyone, Part I

Years ago, when I lived in my previous house, my Keeshond mix Pasha liked to lie at the bottom of the basement stairs, sprawling in the tiny four foot by four foot space. With his legs sticking out and his head tilted back, he did a pretty fair impression of a dog with a broken neck. One look at him, lying so awkwardly at the bottom of the stairs, and you’d start to think some evil being had thrown him down there. And he slept like a rock in that spot, perhaps because it was cool and confined. Sometimes he was so convincing that when he didn't respond to my calls, I’d run down the steps and wake him up, and he'd blink at me, sleep-addled, and wonder what the heck my problem was. He had been in the middle of a Really Good Nap in his Special Sleeping Place.

Pasha was no different than every other pet I've had or currently live with. They all have their Special Sleeping Place. Or Places. 

There's no place like a cave 
Pasha in particular really liked to be enclosed. He loved to sleep underneath one of our end tables in the living room of our first house; the space under the table was dubbed Pasha's Cave. And it was the best place for a snooze, other than the bottom of the basement stairs...except when the Evil Vacuum Cleaner would come shoving it's nasty noisy nose into his private domain. He would leave very quickly when threatened with the vacuum; usually he felt so safe in his lair that I’m sure he couldn’t imagine how the Evil Vacuum Cleaner managed to bridge its defenses. 

Pasha sleeping in his Cave.

Though he wasn't crate trained at first, when we brought new puppy Rosie home and crate trained her (now in another house), Pasha decided that a crate made a perfect cave and would sometimes just go in it to sleep. We eventually had two crates, one for each dog, and every once in awhile, Pasha would cause a rip in the fabric of the universe when he chose to go in The Wrong Crate. Rosie knew which one was hers and was very particular about it; thus she went in her crate even when Pasha was already there. That lead to a somewhat overcrowded situation, which would cause Pasha to panic and get a little confused (particularly when he was older) and become unsure of exactly how to get past Rosie and out the door. We'd eventually help him out, and direct him to The RIght Crate, and all would be right with the universe.
This is NOT Pasha and Rosie in a crate. I still don't know how Jasper managed to fold himself up so that both he and Tucker could fit in.

Bizarrely, enough, Athena the cat seems to think that Tucker’s crate in our bedroom is one of the Best Special Sleeping Places. Perhaps this is because of the General Cat Belief that every thing, every where is put there specifically for their use. So even though the crate must feature a really strong Eau de Dog, it is comfortable, and there’s a pillow, and it’s kind of enclosed, but you can still see out, so it’s definitely a Cat Bed. Athena always seems surprised and incredibly offended when Tucker (or one of the other dogs) walks into the crate when she’s in there. And then there’s the tricky business of how to exit the crate with Kitty Dignity intact while trying to scramble in between the dog snout and four doggy legs. The effrontery! 
Tucker and Athena in his pen (before he graduated to a crate.) There's a lot less room in a crate.

Confined areas have been favorite spots for many of my dogs. One of Rosie's favorite spots was by my feet in the kneehole under my desk. She'd curl up under there and sleep while I worked in my office. Sometimes she'd rest her head on my footstool, and every once in awhile, I'd be typing away at my keyboard and I'd hear a soft sigh and a moan as she stretched and adjusted to get in the Best Position.  
Rosie curled up under my desk by my footrest. Notice the ubiquitous ball. Rosie was rarely far from one of her favorite toys.

When I was growing up, our dog Twinkle (I'll to write more about her in the future), used to sleep under our dining room table. The table was always covered with a floor-length tablecloth, and all you'd see of Twink would be her black snout and little black nose peeking out from under it. If you got down on floor level, you'd just barely make out her eyes. From her People Blind under the table, she could watch the world walk by, but she was so hidden, most folks wouldn't know she was there. Another favorite spot of Twinkle's was behind the living room couch where she could see out from under it; this spot had the same benefit as the dining room table; she could see and not be seen.

Hiding in caves is also a good thing if you’re a cat. The Underbed Cave is a particularly popular spot for Athena and Dawn. If either of the cats are not in the Specified Customary Cat Spots, you can be sure to find her under our bed, usually in Meatloaf position. (See "meatloaf" entry in my post on pet vocabulary.) Dawn, in particular, likes to hide Under Things. She even has a special look on her face when she hides; if she feels particularly hidden, she’ll drift off to sleep with a self-satisfied look on her face that stays there even while she drifts off to Kitty Dreamland.

On top of the world, or just about anything else 
And of course if you’re a cat, and you’re not Under something, it’s good to be On Top Of something. Dawn loves to sleep on the very top level of the humongous cat tree that dominates our family room. (In a weak moment, I let my son convince me we needed this monstrosity.) Athena likes to perch on the back of the family room couch. There’s also On Top Of a recently laundered blouse, On Top Of a grocery bag, On Top of a dresser, On Top of my stomach or chest (when I allow cats in the bedroom and I’m trying to sleep) and of course the old stand by On Top of the newspaper while I’m trying to read it. 
Dawn, high up in her crow's nest, at the top of the cat tree.
Athena On Top Of my laptop bag.
Athena On Top Of the family room Couch.

(Actually, I think it’s written in the Cat Bylaws, section III, subchapter 12, where the Comfort Factor is discussed as a direct relationship to interruptiveness or inconvenience. This applies as well, I believe, to the Cat On the Keyboard phenomenon.) And both cats are particularly pleased when they can sleep both On Top Of and Under at the same time, which they accomplish by sleeping on a chair when it is pushed under the table.
Dawn On Top of the chair and Under the dining room table.
Dawn, On Top Of the Chair, Under the kitchen  table. It's a completely different experience.

Of course, if you’re a cat and you’ve used up your Unders and On Top Ofs,  there’s always Inside. Inside a cloth bag. Inside a box. Inside a pillow case. Inside a corner. 
Dawn, comfortably "cornered" between the end table, the couch and the wall of the family room.

Basket + Towel = Cat Bed 
I actually put this concept to the test the other day. I had taken a basket out to use for hanger storage, and when I put it down on top of the clothes dryer I suddenly realized that the it was perfectly meatloaf shaped. Remembering that Athena often greets me from that very spot when I walk in the door, I thought that if I put a towel in the basket, I might just create the Perfect Cat Bed.

I knew enough about cat sensibilities not to breathe a word to either cat about this brilliant idea. I had previously purchased a cat bed--the kind that had soft tall sides for kitties to curl up in--and my effort had been soundly snubbed. Surely I wouldn’t expect the Cats to sleep in a bed made for...Cats! So, I put a towel in the basket, left in on top of the dryer unremarked upon, and sure enough, when I came home from work the next day, there was Athena, all tucked into her new basket bed.  Just a few days later, Dawn discovered it and found that it was just the right size for her, too.

A basket full of Athena.
Dawn snuggles in the Basket Bed. Just don't tell her I planned it that way.
I have to admit as a newbie cat owner, I am way too proud of myself for thinking of this concept and actually seeing it work. Somehow, I think it is all going to backfire on me the minute I post this entry; they'll find out. Cat spies are everywhere, right? And if they knew this was a bed made for cats, it Just Will Not Do.

It should be noted that when I first began this post, I actually thought I'd write about special sleeping spots and hiding spots and hang out spots. Since I hadn't really enumerated all of the Special Spots, I was quite clueless as to just how many there actually are. So, to preserve the reader's enjoyment, I narrowed the topic down to just the Sleeping Places. I'll get to Hidey Places and Observation Posts another time. However, even with the focus just on favorite sleeping spots, I discovered there are way too many for one entry. So stay tuned and come back again to read part II of Places, Everyone.

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