Shades of the late Darren McGavin! If you liked the ‘70s horror shows on TV, you knew him as Kolchak, crime reporter, in the series “The Night Stalker.”
It seems that I have a night stalker living with me. My kitty, Bonnie, had her 18th birthday in April and I’ve noticed some subtle changes in her behavior. Up until that time, Bonnie would sleep on my bed at night. She would quietly turn in circles for a few seconds until she found just the right spot; once settled, she would curl up and sleep until the alarm went off in the morning.
This pattern changed several weeks ago. Bonnie now comes up on the bed, does her thing and goes to sleep. However, she now wakes up around 4:30 or 5:30 in the morning, meowing, stalking back and forth and jumping up and down on my bed; sometimes she’ll cross over my pillow, just missing my head. I can’t go back to sleep, so I am up with the roosters and chickens.
This is a problem, considering my nocturnal oxygen therapy; I need a full night of oxygen, not just a few hours. Trying to break Bonnie’s new pattern, I began feeding her at 5:30 and going back to bed for a few hours. This is certainly not what my doctor ordered!
I finally brought Bonnie to her vet. Blood tests showed she has hyperthyroidism, for which she is now taking medication. When I informed him that I was feeding her at 5:30, he responded, “By doing that, you are rewarding her for doing something wrong.”
Yep, and she kept doing it day after day and I kept feeding her day after day. What a vicious cycle I had created.
When I next spoke to the vet, I explained that I was certainly feeling the lack of sleep and needed to find an answer to this problem. He then suggested I buy the lowest dosage of melatonin, cut the pill in half and give it to Bonnie an hour before my bedtime. Melatonin is an animal or plant hormone that regulates sleep and wakefulness. She had her first dose two nights ago and slept through the night and the next night, also. Tonight will be the third time and, hopefully, it will be another success.
Of course, using melatonin is a short-term resolution. But it is our hope that using it will break Bonnie’s “bad habit” and she will revert to her previous ritual. We are in a holding pattern now: She eats well, drinks plenty of water, uses the litter box and doesn’t have any accidents. I will add that she loves men! After all, she was Art’s kitty. When one of my sons comes to visit,
Bonnie will jump on the sofa and sit very close to him—she doesn’t do that for me! I’m just her personal human caretaker.
I can’t help but think that her kitty brain is undergoing changes similar to humans as we age. Bonnie has been a wonderful pet: talkative, loyal and affectionate in her own way. My wish is that she be comfortable and peacefully enjoy the remainder of her life until she crosses the Rainbow Bridge to reunite with brother, Clyde.
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