Is Your Cat Your Insomnia Buddy?


“You and Brandy are weird at night. What on earth do you do?”

That’s my husband. He was actually the one who inspired this post.

“Sometimes, I wake up in the middle of the night, and you’re whispering to someone or SINGING. At first I’m confused, then I’m afraid, then I realize you’re talking to Brandy. Should I be concerned?”

Brandy and I look at each other and just blink back at my husband. It’s one of those times that an explanation would only serve to make Brandy and me sound more coo-coo bananas, so best to just leave him guessing.

I didn’t ask for this. I wish I could sleep like a normal human. But from time to time, when my anxiety starts percolating (especially during the holidays), sleep can feel like a luxury. For those of you who suffer from insomnia, this may sound familiar. You lie in bed feeling tired, but your brain is spinning. For me, I can’t just lie in the dark obsessing about sleep. I have to take my mind off of it. So often I get up. Probably not the smartest thing for my sleep rhythms, but Brandy seems to rejoice.

You see, my little kitty has always been a night owl. For as long as I’ve known her, she has stalked around our home at night, playing with her toys, talking to her imaginary friends (more on that creepy little habit later), and tinkering with the inventions I’m sure she hides behind secret panels in our walls.

Like me, Brandy is a creature of the dark. So I dedicate this post to my husband — this is a peek into what Brandy and I do while you slumber.

We watch TV

Brandy is obsessed with my iPad.

Since we moved to Japan it’s the only way I can watch television, and Brandy knows that once the sun goes down and the iPad gets propped up, it’s time to get a front row seat. Watching my stories in the living/kitchen/office corner of our tiny apartment, Brandy will park herself right on the table so she is in prime scratching location while I watch Sookie cry over Bill or Liz Lemon eat more sandwiches. She also likes this position because she can put her paw on the screen, pausing the show at any time she deems more attention, treats, or dance break is in order.

Any night you see our lights on around 1 a.m., you can probably catch a version of this conversation:

Me: [Snort-laughs] Aaaah, Lemon and her Night Cheese! [Sings “Workin’ on my NIGHT CHEESE!”]

Brandy: [Glances at me, requests more scratches.]

Me: I wish I had some Night Cheese, kitten-head …

Brandy: [Puts paw on screen, freezes 30 Rock, looks accusingly at me.]

Me: Meow-vin, you know you can’t have cheese —

Brandy: [Swats at me.]

We eat

Somehow Brandy and I have gotten on the same feeding schedule. I eat with her in the morning, am uninterested in food during the day, and am ravenous at night. And then there are the late-night snacks.

Somewhere around 1 a.m., I MUST FEED. Lately my late-night snack of choice is a hardboiled egg. When our stories are on pause (when Brandy decrees), you can often find me boiling eggs. Of course, Brandy feels entitled to a snack, too. If I deny her at least a little taste of SOMETHING, she knows her ace in the hole is to start the “Siren Meow” — a piercing meow that seems to have no beginning and no end.

Me: Come on cat-face, chill, do you really need —

Brandy: Meeeeeeooooo-ow-ow.

Husband: [From the other room] Wha?

Me: Sorry! It’s nothing! [Whispering to Brandy] FINE. You win cat-borg. Here you go!

Brandy: [Contented silence while she chews.]

We dance

Once we start rounding the corner to 3 a.m., the world can become a very strange place. For Brandy and I this usually comes in the form of what I’ve come to know as our late-night dance breaks.

TV shows do this thing where they play music at the end of an episode, and words roll or flash across the screen. Crazy, right? When your brain is slightly fried from lack of sleep, the theme to The Muppet Show becomes a PERFECT opportunity to get up, stretch your legs, and EMBRACE THE DANCE.

Tell me this doesn’t make you want to shimmy just a little bit

As I bop around, often making my way to my toothbrush, Brandy takes this opportunity to stretch, attempt to catch my tapping toes, or swat at my spirit fingers. She has a lovely singing voice.

This is the apex of our lunacy, and IT FEELS GOOD.

Brandy’s “Friend”

As my night/early morning is winding down, Brandy starts getting chatty. No, not with me, but with her “friend.”

While I’m turning off the lights and climbing into bed, Brandy will make her way to one of her “talking spots” — the corner of my bedroom or the center of the living room/kitchen. Eyes aimed at the ceiling, she’ll softly chatter or mew at something only she can see.

I’m not going to lie, this can be a little freaky. I’ve sat next to her and tried to see what she is seeing, but nothing. No bugs, drafts, shadows, or woeful apartment-ghosts do I see.

It’s moments like this that I tell myself, “LOUISE, YOU’VE GOT TO START SLEEPING MORE. Perhaps this is a part of Brandy’s social life that you are best not privy to.”

So that’s a large part of what Brandy and I do while the rest of our world sleeps.

When I creep from my bed and make my way to my chair, it’s Brandy’s blinking eyes and comforting purr that make me feel less alone and weird in the middle of the night. And while the goal is always to find my way back to sleep, the bright spot in my insomnia is the strange and secret life Brandy and I get to share.

Do you suffer from insomnia? Does your cat stay up with you? What are you and your cat’s “weirdo” late night habits? Tell me! Make me feel less strange!

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