When we got Chester, we didn’t know he was part rooster. Around 4 a.m. he would come upstairs where we were blissfully sleeping and begin to meow. His voice started softly in adagio, but when there was no reaction from us, he amped up the volume and shifted to presto. This was not music to our ears. Chester’s motives where to announce his presence and get fed.
At first, we thought his act was cute, then annoying and finally enraging. People need their Zzzs too. If they don’t get the right amount of sleep, they can suffer sleep deprivation and that can lead to an early death. In this case that could be ours or the cat’s.
A solution was needed, and fast.
We never thought of Chester as a tubby tabby, but our vet said he was overweight. His orders were to feed the cat twice a day with a prescribed amount of food. Chester didn’t like that and some of the things he said can’t be printed.
With Chester being placed on the Alcatraz diet (his words, not ours), 4 a.m. would get a whole lot worse for the people. Death metal was going to sound like a lullaby compared to what Chester had planned.
What to do?
The quick fix was to provide Chester with an extra meal given to him in the basement. Doctor’s orders were trumped by our need for undisturbed sleep.
Chester was provided some extra kibble along with his water bowl and litter box for which he dutifully followed us downstairs. He was pleased to get more chow. We went upstairs and locked the door to keep him confined for the night.
Turns out Chester can wolf down kibble faster than Usain Bolt can run the 100 meters. No sooner were we out of the basement, he had finished eating and was at the top of the stairs meowing to be let out. When that didn’t happen, a paw came from under the door with claws extended. It looked like a scene from a horror movie.
Give Chester his props, when motivated, he learns quickly. On the second night of the new world order, he went downstairs following his new rations, ate them and then stayed in stir without raising a fuss.
In the following days, Chester would bolt for the basement following anyone who went downstairs to get something. We had to tell him, “Not yet, Chester.” He was so eager to get more food, he looked forward to a night in solitary.
And when it was time for the people to go to sleep, not a creature was stirring, not even a cat.
For an aloof animal, Chester does have his moments where he wants to be noticed. Sometimes it’s when we come home. He’ll move to the center of the room and flop on the rug, extending himself as far as he can go. You now have the option to give him a belly, back or neck rub. This is done for his pleasure, not ours and is in line with every other aspect of Chester’s life.
But when he really wants your attention, he has this annoying habit of laying across a step as you’re trying to ascend or descend those very stairs. Why? I’ll let you decide with the most logical possibilities.
News flash! Cats like to sleep, except Chester does so in strange positions that don’t seem possible or comfortable. Most of the photos we’ve taken of him are when he’s asleep and contorted. Sometimes he sleeps with his eyes open which is spooky. This both amuses and amazes us. If Chester wasn’t so lazy, he could audition for Cirque du Soleil. I’m sure they’d hire him for some artsy cat dream bit.
Chester has specific roles for the four of us. At the top of the hierarchy is Lily. She’s the reason Chester joined our family and has the cat’s loyalty, as far as a feline can be loyal. When Lily comes home from work, Chester runs to the door to greet her. When she’s laying on the couch, Chester lies on top of her to snuggle. When it’s time for bed, Lily is the one who brings his food, water and litter box to the basement, with Chester compliantly following her.
My wife is a close second in Chester’s world. In the morning when Genifer is stretching on the rug, Chester comes over to stretch with her. When my wife is grading papers on that same rug, Chester is there to help too. And when she’s sitting on her chair in the den, Chester is quick to jump in her lap, make himself comfortable, give loud purrs before falling dead asleep. Sometimes my wife will join him for a catnap.
Chester wasn’t quite sure about me. In the beginning, he was only friendly when I was the one feeding him in the morning. He put on the usual charm when a cat is hungry; purrs, walking around rubbing my legs with his tail high in the air. As soon as I gave him his meal, I was a distant memory. Outside of that, Chester kept a healthy distance away from me.
To change Chester’s standoffishness, I needed to get more involved. That’s when I became his play pal. We had plenty of things for him to be entertained with that were left over from our previous cat, Emma. But the magical instrument of fun for Chester was the wire cat toy. A simple concept, a wiggly wire with several pieces of rolled up paper on the end, but when you moved it around the floor, he went nuts. You could make him run in circles at warp speed as if he were chasing his tail, or move it over the furniture where he looks like he’s participating in a parkour contest.
He also likes to be chased around the house. He enjoys running under the kitchen table where he will stay just out of reach. If you walk away, he will run by you with a sideways gait and his tail curled like a question mark so you can pursue him again.
Most of the floors downstairs aren’t covered by rugs. When the chase begins, because of his long nails, Chester runs in place for a couple of seconds before he gains traction to run away. He also skids when trying to corner from room to room. When this happens, I call him Cartoon Kitty as he looks like a character from Looney Tunes.
Later I pretend to be scared of Chester and he will chase me. That includes playing the banister game. After I walk to the bottom of the stairs, he will come down to where he hides behind the balusters. I reach through to try and touch him, but he bobs and weaves like a boxer, just staying outside of my jabs. He then counters and tries to hit me, sans claws. He too can’t lay a paw on me.
A dangerous game (for me) is the curtain fight. Chester will hide behind the drapes to the sliding doors, then I try to grab him through the fabric. Chester counters by reaching under the cloth with claws extended trying to get back at me. I’ve shed more blood doing this than when I played high school football.
Through play, we developed a closer bond, not like the ones he has for Lily and Genifer, but it was better than before. So now I’m both a girl dad and cat dad.
As for Grace, before she moved into her own home, she wanted to have a relationship with Chester like the one she had with Emma, which was very close. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, Chester doesn’t like her. This despite how Grace took care of Chester when he first came home and was sick. Anytime Grace wanted to pet or hold him, he ran away. Time hasn’t changed his view. When Grace comes over to visit from her recently purchased home, he still hightails it
Grace wants a pet badly and a dog is in her future. My advice to Grace – pay attention to the stairs when you visit next time. Chester has an opinion on dogs.
Can’t wait for her first stopover with the canine.