The Family Bed

My cats insist

Whenever my writing runs dry, such as now, a desert, I find that writing about my cats gets me going again.

Above, Brody, front, and Delilah enjoying the Family Bed.

By Mo Conlan

My cats decided to have a “family bed.” Essentially, this means sharing.

Here is an example of a “family bed”: a 210-pound husband, 135-pound wife, a hefty toddler (or two) and possibly a baby pile into bed and try to sleep. Good luck getting sleep and good luck ever getting those kids out of the “family bed.”

There is some rationale for this apparent insanity. Somebody studied other cultures and discovered that babies slept with their parents for a few years – to make the child more secure and to allow the parents to monitor the baby. This is probably not an anthropologically sound definition, but it gives the idea.

Some mischief-maker brought the notion to American parents. I don’t know his or her name, but it's certainly somebody with a bed to himself and no children.

Little did I know when I formed these opinions that I would wind up with a family bed of my own.

Soon after I retire each evening, my affectionate roly-poly tabby Brody eyes a spot at the foot of my bed and hefts himself up.

Not long after, the slightly slimmer black cat, Delilah, follows. I would say that, poundage-wise, they are the equivalent of about one baby and one toddler. (Brody really is quite hefty – he is a happy gourmand.)

I love my cats and they are good companions – if not always well behaved, especially Delilah, who has a will of iron. So, I don’t kick them out of bed.

Brody has his spot at the foot of the bed and Delilah has hers. They leave me a little tunnel of room in which to stretch out my legs, cat on either side.

After awhile, things get trickier. Despite Delilah’s frosty temperament, Brody is a cuddler, and he inches closer to her to rest his chin on her flank. She lets him.

Now, though, I have a boulder’s worth of immovable cat in my bed, and no place for my feet – so I curl up. If I need to stretch my feet, I have to go right or left of Cat Mountain.

Still, we all manage to sleep pretty well most nights. Sometimes, though, Delilah, who is not generally affectionate, will decide to become so. She will insinuate herself next to my head on the pillow and sometimes even rest her head on my arm. She had a hard life before she came to me, and this very occasional affection is touching. I can hardly deny her.

As morning approaches, the cats begin to get restless. Sometimes they use my body like a footbridge as they renegotiate sleeping spots. They manage to step on tender joints quite a bit.

Sometimes, one will decide that the best sleeping spot is right on top of me, and stretch out on my mid-section. I wiggle them off, but they can be quite tenacious.

I am surprised that my cats have learned some good bedmate manners. Instead of loudly meowing for me to get up early in the morning to feed them, they wait patiently on the floor beneath my sleeping head. Eventually, I wake and see those four cat-eyes turned on me like high brights.

“G’me a few more minutes,” I mumble. They wait.

If Delilah feels she’s waited long enough, she jumps abed, does her cuddle-up trick and I get out of bed. I feed them the wet food they love and get only sparingly, then I begin my day.

All in all, I’d say that my family bed is more fun than sleeping alone.

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