Friday, February 17, 2006
A Ritoiley ( pronounced Ri-toy-ley) is something you and your cats invent that you do every day. Cats take a great comfort in schedule and rituals. They like security and routine and comfort and a ritoiley adds to that comfort.
Seamus had the ritoiley he invented which involved running to hide under the bed when he saw us getting ready for the night, trying to grab our toes and then hanging on the foot of the bed with a "Wild thing" face. Then he snuggled up to my neck for the night, dropping his head and then a paw with a great sigh.
Finnegan had ritoileys throughout the day, some of which only he found amusing. To begin with, he would wake us before dawn wanting to climb out the window. You would feel a paw on your cheek and if he got no response a tentative claw. Then more claws in your scalp. This was accompanied by a demanding yowl on a rhythm just enough so you couldn't ignore it. Sooner or later either he'd get to go out or, if I was really annoyed and it was really early (no outs before dawn) I would shut him out of the room and he would yowl at the shut door.
When I got up he loved to walk next to me down the stairs. When I cooked he wanted to sit on the counter and keep an eye on me. And at night he ran for my lap the minute I sat down in front of the TV and I would maneuver my plate around him. When I went to bed he would sit up on my side and wait, then he would let me pull him in close and rest my chin on him. As soon as he thought I was asleep he would move to the foot.
Fergus was very inventive in his ritoileys. He also loved to walk down stairs next to me. He and Silas would sit by the window patiently (no yowling) waiting for it to open,around 7 AM, then he would check in around 9am. If the weather was good he would run in and out the cat door until afternoon nap by 3PM, when the cat door closed. He loved it that I kept his favorite treat in a drawer in the kitchen and whenever the drawer opened he would fly onto the counter, give me three kisses on each side of my face and receive a treat. He also knew that the sound of the garage door meant I was coming home and he would usually be at the house door ( which is glass) waiting. As I drove in I would see him there.
For play ritoiley's he loved getting in his fabric tunnel and I would pick it up and swing it around with him in it. Then I would pick up a long slender applewood stick and whip it around the floor for him to chase ( this is Paw Over Paw). He would chase a ball under the furniture and get very happy when I would take a broom handle to fish it out for him. He would sit waiting for the ball to come flying out. He also loved to play with that ball in the wheel toy and he would bat it around with me.
In the evening he would come up for lap sit and when it was bedtime I would brush my teeth and he would hop up and I would brush his too. With kitty toothpaste and a Sesame Street brush. Then he would run up the kitty tree to the second landing and we'd play a little paw over paw. He slept behind my knees, or if it was cold he would crawl in under the blankets next to my chest.
Brendan often goes into the bathroom at night and watches Olof brush his teeth (Brendan won't let me brush his, I've tried). He loves the evening lap sit and he gets carried in style into the bedroom where he sleeps on a polar fleece covered blanket. Brendan's prayer is "Lord let all my days be normal". He likes to see the days unfold to a nice pattern, the beans sleep, drink coffee, sit quietly with those metal boxes on their laps, watch that thing that makes noise, offer food at regular times, keep life peaceful and good.
Silas amuses himself with his beer cap and milk bottle ring collection. He hides it under the rugs, he bats things around the floor. He likes to go out in the morning and then he is content to hang in his penthouse. Lately the two of them are peaceably sharing the bedroom during the day, Silas in his penthouse, Brendan on the bed. When Fergus was here all three would hang in the sunroom around the woodstove. Silas comes in for a pet and a greeting at about 9:30 PM every night, but he has not added lap cat to his ritoileys, though he tried it one night as if this might be amusing.
Ritoileys are how the animal family shapes the days. A comforting pattern of love and security.
What are yours?