Until about one month ago, this damned cat of ours did not meow. I do not know why. Perhaps he thought it was undignified. Perhaps he had short vocal chords that hurt when he used them. Perhaps an earlier life on the streets taught him the value of keeping his mouth shut. No matter the explanation, he seldom let loose his little cry.
And then — as if out of the blue — he figured out that it gets our attention. This would be fine if he was using it when I arrived home from work. Or during the day on a Saturday. But he seems to only use this meow of his between the hours of 2 and 6 a.m. He starts by jumping up on the dresser and finding some loose item that he can swat to the floor. Then he jumps to the bed and begins to cry over and over again until someone attends to him. I assume he wants food. Food seems to end the crying jag for a couple of hours. Usually.
It’s unfortunate (for us) however that we are rewarding this behavior. It seems that the principles of operant conditioning are pretty clear on this subject. It would seem that the smart thing to do would be to lock him out of the room. But this only seems to address the part where he gets in my face to meow; the hollow-core door offers little protection against hallway cries.
Little bastard. If you’re reading this: CUT IT OUT!
About Rob FrieselSoftware engineer by day, science fiction writer by night. Author of The PhantomJS Cookbook and a short story in Please Do Not Remove. View all posts by Rob Friesel →
3 Responses to sources of insomnia (part one)
we are strengthening the probability of his continued meowing by reinforcing the behavior. we need to give him food at the beginning of the night, lock him out of the bedroom, and ignore him when he cries at the door. he’ll get over it eventually.
Congratulations… you now own Garfield. If you have a fence in the back yard, he may be caught caterwauling on it late at night.
(yes, i was THAT dork that read all of the old Garfield comics as a kid)