CPAP to the rescue

Set a timer for 10 minutes and try to write your whole daily post.  Now go back and give yourself 5 more minutes to write about how you felt working under such a tight deadline.

As part of my Search for Health and my Attempt to Be a Responsible Adult, I have been trying to wear my CPAP machine more consistently. I don’t wear it often enough, because the dry mouth, chapped lips, and claustrophobic fighting-against-the-current feeling are, shall we say, less than pleasant. But I’m trying to put those cares aside in favor of the benefits:  it lets David sleep better because he doesn’t have to listen to me snore, it sends more oxygen to my poor  apnea-starved brain, and it apparently helps prevent heart attacks. Those are generally considered to be good things.

We have discovered an unexpected bonus over the last couple of weeks, though: Fu, our nocturnal cat, hates it. Instead of curling up with one of us to sleep – and later jumping into and around the bed in search of food or companionship or whatever the heck she wants at 3 am – she is keeping her distance from the bed. This is huge. We had tried everything to keep her away, and just stumbled upon this unexpectedly. I am thrilled. David is thrilled. Fu is less than thrilled, but I can live with that.

I’m finding ways around the CPAP badness as well: dry mouth rinse and Vaseline on my lips before putting the mask on have been a big help. Constant mask strap readjustment has helped, too. I’ve been able to fall asleep with some conscious relaxation exercises to get past the claustrophobia. It’s getting better – and if we can keep the cat away at night, that will be better still.

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It was weird to try to write a post in only 10 minutes. I rushed to pick something to write about; I wasn’t ready to get to pick my own topic! But since it was just telling a story, it went quickly. In fact, I wrote the whole post in only 5 minutes and 40 seconds, though I was sure that I was almost completely out of time. I used that extra time to read over what I’d written, briefly; the entire thing could be completely incoherent, for all I know.

The whole thing reminded me of timing how long it took Quinland to empty the dishwasher. She used to hate that job and dragged her feet whenever she was asked to do it. When she discovered that she could do the whole thing in under 3 minutes, it suddenly became much more bearable. Knowing that I can crank out a post in 10 minutes, however mundane it might be, is definitely a freeing concept.

Cat tails

We have two cats. They are sisters named Jinx and Fu. We adopted them from a friend who was moving overseas when they were eight years old – what is that in cat years? – back in September 2012. Life has been a roller coaster ever since.

Jinx and Fu cat

First of all, the cats were supposed to be Quinland’s. She had been dying for a pet, and when we were at our friend Liz’s house in London, Q fell madly in love with their cat, Garfield. Besides being cute and furry and a bit wacky, Garfield had the ultimate desirable cat trait: he would come and crawl up in Quinland’s lap to be petted or just to hang out. It was true cat love. Needless to say, Q was very excited at the prospect of getting not just one but TWO cats of her very own. Visions of cat cuddling danced in her head.

Quinland broke her leg three days before the cats were due to arrive, and the prospect of weeks on the couch must have made the idea of New Cat Friends seem even more attractive. Of course, it didn’t work out that way. Between the giant neon cast and the scary scary crutches, Jinx and Fu were absolutely terrified of Q. There was no cuddling. No petting. No anything. They didn’t want to come near her. They have warmed up slightly over the last year – Jinx will even occasionally sit on her lap to be petted – but by no means did they provide the pet companionship Q was looking for.

David, it turns out, does not like having cats. He was under the impression – as was I – that cats are like teenagers: they like their own space, they want to follow their own agenda, and as long as you make sure there is food in the house, they are fine. Jinx is pretty low-maintenance like that. She also tends to party late into the night and leave the house trashed.

Yarn Fest 2013 with Jinx the Cat

Fu, on the other hand, is like a newborn. She cries when she is hungry, thirsty, or has just used her litter box and wants it cleaned. She cries when she wants attention. She cries when she is tired and wants to go to bed. She cries when she wants you to get up. The noise is absolutely driving David insane.

Fu Up Close and Personal
This is what you see when Fu is crying for you to get up.
She stands right on your chest and starts yowling.

But, just like a little baby, when all her needs have been met to her satisfaction, Fu is so dang cute. She will roll onto her back and stretch out like an otter to get her tummy rubbed. She will let you cuddle her in your arms like a doll. She talks in her sleep and snores the tiniest little snore.

My sleepy baby kitten, Fu

Like all cats, they both love containers. Jinx tries to climb on, under, or around any box (or basket or stack of books or piece of paper) she sees.

Basket full of kitty cat - Jinx

Fu likes to crawl into a comfy box for a nap, regardless of comparative size.

Fat cat. Small box. Fu napping.

I feel like I have been getting pretty good Cat Value from these two. Though I sometimes feel like I am the only one cleaning the litter box, I love to play with them and brush them and cuddle them and talk to them in silly voices. They totally know my voice and they know when I am calling them.

But they may have to find a new home. Truly, David feels that they are a serious liability. I do see his points:

  • Fu’s constant meowing is keeping us from ever getting a decent night’s sleep. With the fatigue that comes from MS (for me) and from teaching high schoolers (for David), sleep is a precious commodity. The broken-up sleep could be a big factor in how down I have felt all this year.
  • Jinx and Fu are destroying the furniture. They both scratch and claw at everything. Both arms of our loveseat are shredded. The ottoman and sofa are getting seriously clawed. The carpet upstairs is being torn up bit by bit. As David says, “We are paying money (for food, etc.) to keep pets that are destroying our belongings. Why would anyone pay to have their stuff ruined?”

I can’t solve either of those issues. There is no way to shut Fu up, and nowhere to put her that we can’t hear her.  At 4:40 this morning, in a sleepy haze, David put Fu out on the deck. (They are indoor cats, but our deck is so high up, they can’t go anywhere.) At 7:00, when I woke up, I went to let the cat in and she was gone. Thankfully, she reappeared on the DOWNSTAIRS deck. Did she jump? Fall? Who knows, but we are lucky she seemed okay, if a bit disoriented.

As for the scratching, I am at a loss. The cats have a giant scratching tower-castle-thingy and they rarely use it. I’ve gotten a variety of scratching posts and boxes, but they don’t like them, even when liberally sprinkled with catnip.

I feel guilty about all the problems, since I was the one who brought them into our lives. I hate feeling like I am making my family suffer. I want to find a solution that makes everyone happy… but I don’t know what that is.

In the meantime, I look at these two cuddly mufflepuffins and think how sad I would be to see them go.

Sleepy cat friends - Jinx and Fu

TwoCats

Jinxy and Fu-bear hanging out on the deck:

I should add a couple of details here. These girls are housecats, and their few forays into the outside world before we got them always ended with being chased down like bank robbers. However, our back deck is more than two stories up and has no way to reach the ground, so our housemate, Greg, decided to let them go out, supervised, and see how they did.

Not only did they not jump up on the railings or plunge to their deaths, they absolutely loved it. Fu, especially, will often scratch at the sliding glass door to go out, rain or shine. (She’s got a high percentage of body fat, so she can stand the weather. Jinxy is skinny and a prima donna, so her outside excursions are much shorter.)

This particular day was the first day I’d ever left the door open – it’s getting warmer here! – and let them go in and out at will. That was like a kitty trip to Disneyland. 🙂