John McManamy Health Guide
  • Bullwinkle, left, and RockyRumble-rumble.

    The Jaws soundtrack. It's three in the morning. I've just heard the guillotine flap-flap of the outside cat door - twice. Then the one into my bedroom.

    They're inside! In the dark, somewhere.

    I sense a disturbance in the air, an oxygen molecule where it doesn't belong. The mattress gives way, ever so slightly, one corner of the bed, then the other.


    They're on my bed! Two furry psychopaths, Rocky and Bullwinkle.

    "Hey, Daddy! Wake up! Time to play!"

    The kittens are now in their teens, about 20 weeks. It's been a variation on the same theme since I acquired them at five weeks. Tonight is more of the same. First they maneuver around my kneecaps, then migrate north. Eventually, one settles on my chest, rumbling throat portending awful things to come.

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    The more southerly furball climbs over the furball on my chest, and settles in around my neck. Now the rumbling is directly in one ear, jackhammer intensity. If it's Rocky, he will give me a nose facial. If it's Bullwinkle, she will start kneading my throat, my cheeks, my eyeballs, whatever is handy.

    Then both take up positions on my face, jockeying for the prime location on top of my favorite breathing passage. The rumbling is now in stereo.

    Which wall shall I throw them against tonight? Just kidding. I clutch both hands to the top edge of my covers, then reach for the ceiling. Gravity takes over. Fur flies, rather, descends. Somewhere, in the dark, a synchronized double crash-landing is in progress.

    I flip over and pull the covers over my head. A minute later, in both ears: Rumble-rumble.

    "Hey, Daddy! That was fun! Let's do it again!"

    Just to show you how truly evil kittens are, about five weeks ago, these diabolical schemers pulled off something capable of Lex Luthor, Superman's nemesis. Bullwinkle, I think, was the ringleader. This is how it went down:

    Bullwinkle: "Listen up, Rocky. You're the more agile one. You climb onto Daddy's desk and tiptoe gingerly around the keyboard. Don't knock anything over. We want this to be a surprise."

    Rocky: "Gotcha. What comes next?"

    Bullwinkle: "Heh-heh-heh!"

    I'm sound asleep. Suddenly, from my computer speakers, a sound I can only describe as cosmic. Think of the polar ice cap breaking up. Worse, a rapper on a bad day:


    I am sitting up straight, eyes wide open. The computer screen is lit up, flashing like a strobe. Rocky is at the controls, one paw on my mouse, the other on the keyboard.


    Wait till I get my hands on the little bastard. I extend my arm. Rocky, of course, is just out of reach. I have to climb out of bed. Now I have him in one hand. I could easily crush him without remorse. Instead, I set him down on the floor. Okay, I kinda drop him on the floor. Well, drop him with a bit of emphasis. But into a pile of clothes. Well, maybe it was broken glass.

    I settle back in bed. One minute, five minutes, drifting off ...

    Above me, a banshee wail. Claws on curtain. Claws on wall. Now it's Bullwinkle's turn. From the ledge above me, a kitten in free-fall. Bullwinkle belly-flops onto my face.

  • "Ha! Got you good, Daddy!"

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    It's five in the morning. It's Tuesday. This means it's Rocky's turn to compassionately stiff-arm a paw into my full bladder. I do what all men my age do with a full bladder at five in the morning - I lie there, in full denial, hoping my bladder will somehow miraculously drain without having to get out of bed, and that somehow I will just be able to roll over and go back to sleep.

    The kittens, meanwhile, are headed in a northerly direction.

    At last, I bow to the inevitable and take care of my bladder business. I return to my bed, only to find the little guys have taken over the prime real estate on the mattress, curled up together in a ball, sound asleep.

    Awww! Aren't they cute?

    Somehow, we manage to work out an accommodation that involves me wearing the kitties to bed, kind of like breathing pajamas.

    There is a strong body of literature in support of the proposition that pets are great for mental health. One bipolar I know says her cat is the reason she is alive. Another thrives on raising Flemish giant rabbits. Still another takes delight in her Clydesdales, plus her pet collie has taken over as her psychiatric service dog. Another bipolar I know is entering the veterinary field.

    Then there is me and my two furry psychopaths. Right now, they are biding their time, pretending they're interested in chasing a rubber band across the floor. But I know better. They are really stalking me, waiting for the crucial moment when I upload this piece. Then one will jump onto my lap to distract me, while the other takes over the keyboard and ...


    See what I mean? It's positively embarrassing what atrocious spellers cats are. 

Published On: December 09, 2008