It is now fall, and along with the usual signs of the season—crisp leaves on the ground, chilly mornings and warming drinks, football games and Halloween costumes—it is the time of bed hoggery.
As the nights get chillier my cats are magnetically drawn to the bed, the bed they have shunned most of the hot, humid months. Once the lights are out they prowl around the sides, trying to decide their trajectory. Then they are up on the surface, traversing the quilt. Small shakes of the bed and the slight thrum of a purr announce their arrival. Then they move closer, sometime stepping over—and onto—the human already resident on said bed as they search for the perfect spot. This spot might be somewhere along the bed’s perimeter or it may be closer to the center. Half asleep, I feel fur brush my face; paws step onto, and then sit firmly on, my stomach, a purr-purr getting further away or closer.
Once a cat has found her space, a space that might be close to or on top of the silly human on the bed, the cat stretches out, rolls over, and takes as much space as she desires. One cat, stretched to her utmost, can take up a surprising amount of space. But two cats, often occupying very different parts of the limited real estate of a bed, can colonize a remarkable amount of territory. And when I try to intrude into that territory with an out-flung leg or arm, or even regain territory that was mine just a few minutes ago but is now lost to feline flag-planting, the cats pay me no heed. I’m pretty sure that in their minds the bed is their domain, the fitting place for their soft majesty, a place that they most definitely own; I am merely the silly creature who rents the bed on a nightly basis and is lucky to have just one little bit to call, temporarily, my own.
Not only do I often find myself something of a stranger in my own land of bed, but I’ve also found my body’s flexibility tested to the nth degree by such sharing. I’ve gone to bed, felt one cat jump on the bed, drifted into sleep, and then awoken to find myself in the strangest positions, contorted to accommodate two cats who are comfortably outstretched in delighted, shameless bed hoggery while I form myself into a human pretzel. Getting out from these amazingly acrobatic posturings can be an exercise in slow inches, trying to first locate limbs and then extricate them from these strange shapings. Leaving the bed in the middle of the night for any reason can be a game of body puzzles that I’m too clumsy and fuzzy with sleep to have any chance of winning gracefully.
Of course, I could just use my superior strength and mass to eject the cats from their prized positions, but that seems churlish, especially as the bed hogs, despite their hoggery, make excellent interactive hot water bottles on a frosty night. So I’ll live with the bed hogs and, perhaps, even learn from them and work to stake out my own territory in the bed. Or perhaps the answer is simple: I need a bigger bed.