Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A New Disease -- C(at) B(utt) S(yndrome)

As the owner servant and staff of four cats, I've become somewhat accustomed to life that tends to involve revolve around them. They're quite nice cats, generally, and handsome ones to boot. They have learned that treats are passed out in turn and everybody will get one. Anybody trying to jump the line or grab more than their share will get a slight tap on the nose and an admonishment. Anybody who meows for more than 10 straight minutes may get chased through the house with a squirt bottle, but will be welcomed back up on the desk as soon as they cease meowing. Meals will be served within a specific time frame twice a day, and if, God forbid, I should be unavailable, there are several neighbors who can be counted on to fill in the gap. The litter boxes will be cleaned periodically, they have their own electric water fountain that ensures fresh, not stale, water is available at any time, and the dry food dish is replenished as needed (sometimes before needed).  The bed is available for sharing, so long as I have at least enough space to lie on it. Above all, the desktop is available for napping by up to 3 cats at a time with one caveat:  NO CAT BUTTS BETWEEN MY EYES AND THE SCREEN!

I have discovered that there is a condition known as Cat Butt Syndrome (CBS) that is common to almost anyone who simultaneously uses a computer on a desk and who has cats in the house. Symptoms are easily identifiable:
  • cat hair on papers and books
  • pens, pencils, papers and note cards rearranged to suit the catly whim rather than convenience of the actual worker, usually done when the worker is actually engaged in working
  • cat tails hanging over onto keyboards hindering use of said keyboard without a struggle of shifting the cat and a tail-lashing of fingers when the cat settles back in its original chosen position
  • relocation of books and papers to less convenient places on the desk or even to the floor due to lack of desk space for desired sleeping area
  • inability to use more than 1/16th of the top of the desk in front of the screen due to cat prone postures
  • inability to clearly see the screen due to (a) cat sitting on desktop between viewer and screen, often with said cat staring intently as if to convey thoughts and desires which the cat wishes to convey, or  (b)  the imposition of a cat butt between the viewer and the screen, whether with butt facing the screen or being presented directly in the area of the viewer's face (other positions may be observed from time to time)
CBS is frequently responsible for typographical errors, omitted words, phrases and even paragraphs in both reading and writing, invisible illustrations, blocked access to closer examination of screen images, incomplete spell checks and delayed response to instant messages and chat conversations. A further symptom is an increased use of four-letter words (NOT work, food, or even diet), and a shortening of temper inversely proportionate to the criticality of the work being performed. It is not fatal although there may be an implied threat to the source of the CBS. 

There are several cures, among which are banishment of the cat to another room or even another house. One might postpone one's work and go do something else, interesting the cat in another activity before sneaking back to the desk before the cat is fully cognizant of the duplicity or is safely asleep somewhere else. One possibility is to throw cat-treats around the floor of the room or in a trail out the door of the room in which the human might wish to work, but beware: shutting the door on a cat or cats might ultimately be damaging to interior decor (the surface of the door) or the nerves (howling, meowling, growling, etc.). Another possibility is to stop work briefly, pet the cat into lethargy and somnolence, then continue daintily so as not to make any loud noises or movements that might awaken the now dozing cat. Yet another cure is to place an unfriendly object (say, a vacuum cleaner) next to the chair and when the cat begins to exhibit CBS behavior, briefly hit the "on" switch which will startle the cat into flight. True felinophiles will, however, refuse to entertain this notion unless as a matter of ultimate last resort.

Where there is not cure there may be healing possible. One might learn to accommodate oneself to brief periods of observing the intricacies of a cat bath, including the nether regions. One might take the opportunity to rearrange the pencils in the drawer (perhaps distracting the cat from CRS behavior), or do filing that has been piling up for the last several months. Beware of this activity, however, as extraction of the cat might be required if the human is not paying full attention and accidentally allows the cat to become interested in what is already in the file drawer before the drawer can be safely shut and work resumed. Perhaps the most positive form of healing from CRS syndrome is to realize that there are literally millions of fellow-sufferers, seek out or form a support group, and compare strategies.  If all else fails, sit back, enjoy the purrs and allow them to promote a feeling of tranquility and drowsiness. Consider it an invitation to cat nap, sharing in the activity in which one wishes the cat to share.

There is life with and beyond CBS. At least you don't have to go out in the rain so that they can visit the loo or get their exercise.

No comments:

Post a Comment