Screams that sound like tormented souls from the depths of hell pierce the silence of my house around three a.m. every morning. The high-pitched screeches fill the brain with sounds from bloody horror films and descriptions of banshees.
In my bed I wonder if the neighbors can hear and what they must be thinking, especially on tepid nights when windows are open.
No, it isn’t me, screaming because I saw a spider crawling across the floor. And no, it isn’t a malfunctioning smoke alarm, although the sound is close. Nor is it my husband wielding an ax like Jack Nicholson in The Shining.
The blood-curdling noise comes from a twelve-pound ball of fur who’s decided he needs attention and makes ungodly sounds to get it—our Siamese cat Ralph.
No gentle, weak meows from His Highness, whom we adopted from a shelter two and half years ago. He was shy at first, hiding under the bed, and when he decided it was safe, he took to jumping on the couch and laying quietly in his cat bed.
But years—and age—have changed him. My husband and I are seniors so we adopted a senior, a cat who was at least ten years old who’d been brought in from the streets. A tiny snip had been taken from the top of one ear, telling us that he’d once lived in a colony and had been caught and neutered and released back. But he’d obviously lived in a house at one point because he had good manners. He didn’t beg, he didn’t jump on counters or tables, and he used the litter box.
Once integrated into the household, he knew he’d found his forever home and made the most of it by snuggling into handy laps and giving head butts, a sign of affection.
The screeching started about a year ago when put in his carrier for a trip to the vet’s. But now he screeches on a regular basis and not just at night.
Is he making announcements? Is he telling me he needs food in his bowl? Does he like the sound which almost echoes in the house because we have tile floors and only area rugs?
Or is he losing his hearing? Cats do become deaf and that’s a distinct possibility. My spouse and I are also losing our hearing so the noise could be worse than we think.
So when it sounds like the gates of hell have opened and Harry Potter-like wraiths swirl in the night, my spouse and I open are eyes, turn over, and ignore the furry prince of darkness. When I feel a thump and something warm settles next to me I know there won’t be more disturbances in the night.
Cats were once worshipped in Egypt. Ralph the Rescue does not let us forget.
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