Every once in a while, Rey, our tiny gray and white cat, will cry, endlessly, outside of our bedroom door. If one of us gets up and out of bed, carefully opens the door, and exits, foot first so that we can block her from wiggling into the bedroom, we’ll find that Rey is not suffering from some horrible ailment. She’s not sick or injured. She isn’t warning us that someone has broken into our apartment or of a carbon monoxide leak. She’s just lonely.
My wife’s theory is that she does this when she can’t find our other cat, Finn. They came as a bundle; the rescue group that we adopted them from said they were a bonded pair, but despite looking similar, they are not related. Most of the time, they don’t even appear to be friends. It’s rare to see them cuddling together, or even sleeping in the same room. Finn will steal Rey’s food if you’re not literally sitting between them while they eat. And when they “play,” it usually ends in tears, with one of us having to restrain Finn while Rey runs and hides under the bed.
But when Finn sleeps in the closet and Rey can’t find him, she meows, softly at first, right up against our bedroom door, and then louder as she paces the apartment. She’ll scratch the door, too, begging to be let in so that she’s not alone.
We made an early stand to not let the cats into the bedroom at night. When we first got them, we locked them in with us. Late-stage kittens then, they would run around the bed and make grand, Evel Knievel jumps over us—not exactly the conditions for a restful night’s sleep. This stage didn’t last long. Once we trusted that they wouldn’t kill themselves out in the rest of the apartment, they were forever banished and left to their own devices at night.
Finn will sometimes yowl, sauntering from the bedroom door to the kitchen to the living room to the front door, probably annoying the shit out of our neighbors. But he’s relatively easy to ignore; we know he just wants treats. With Rey, the more pathetic of the two, it’s hard not to sneak out of the bedroom, iPhone flashlight on bright, and try to calm her down. Sit on the floor and she’ll circle you, rubbing the sides of her face against your outstretched hand, meowing softly. Anyone who says cats are assholes hasn’t met Rey.
On a good night, though, there’s no meowing or yowling or crying or scratching, and the cats find their respective sleeping spots and stay there. For Rey, that might be the sofa, or the basket of blankets by the TV, or one of our office chairs. For Finn, that might be the bath mat, or underneath the coffee table, or a basket of winter hats by the front door. They’ll stay there, curled up, until about 5 o’clock, when their internal clock mistakenly tells them it’s an appropriate time to start begging for breakfast.