Right after we were married, my wife announced that she would like a cat. I was enjoying the freedom of not having a cat but quickly succumbed. To her surprise, the cat preferred me and became my cat. Two years later she remarked that she would like a second cat– one that would like her. Well, I have always had an interest in owning exotic cats. Servals, to be exact. So we compromised on a second Bengal. This one, however, would be much closer to its wild parent. After several discussions with our Breeder friend, we agreed on a third generation (F3) Bengal. We were warned by the breeder that F3 cats are never just F3’s. They are transitional and either take the traits of a wilder sibling, such as an F2, or a more domestic sibling, such as an F4. Ours went the direction of the F2. Way F2. In fact, he’s wild. And insane. Of note, his nutritional requirements are such that we make his own food. His diet consists of beef heart to which we add vitamins and steamed vegetables. Yes, veggies. He loves steamed green beans and steamed broccoli, but it has to be cooked “right”. If the veggies are too raw he won’t eat them.

My wife wakes up at 6 am each day to prepare for work and prepare the two children for daycare. For the last three months, at 5 am, our wild cat walks into our bedroom, reaches up under the covers with his feet and claws her ankle. She of course jumps and yelps. In the meantime, he has jumped up onto the bed and sees her feet wiggling. His little wild brain says “attack” and he bites at her toes through the covers while she jumps out of bed. The little cat is escorted outside of the bedroom and the door is closed.

Something changed in my wife last night. Something different. She came to bed and closed the door and said she couldn’t take waking up early anymore. My little kitty, whom we named Hitch because of his wild cat walk, was locked out to spend the night in the cold, lonely house. But wait! My wife unexpectedly said, “If you switch sides [of the bed] with me, I’ll open the door and let Hitch back in”. “Really? I asked.” “Yes”. She had been on her side long enough to warm it up, so I agreed. We changed sides and I opened the door.

As a photographer, I have learned more than once that preparedness is often “the name of the game”. If your camera is back home in its bag, it doesn’t really matter that a bald eagle landed on the hood of your car to eat its freshly prepared salmon dinner as you fussed in your car, waiting with frustration that the light was still red. Something about switching sides for the cat just didn’t seem right. “Ah,” I said. I need my camera. I got back up out of bed, tip-toed to the living room, and pulled my camera, a Nikon D700, from the bag. I got back into bed and set the camera between our pillows. Michelle was already asleep, though she stirred a bit. I lay in bed thinking, “ISO setting, check. Camera on, check. Shutter speed, check. Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 , snore….”

For a moment, let’s look at this from Hitch’s perspective. Sleep sleep sleep, DING! “Hmm. I’m hungry.” Walk walk walk. “Hey! The bedroom door is open!”

I awoke to a scream. “I hate that cat!” I turned towards the commotion and remembered the camera just in time for her to flail in bed and shove it into my forehead. “OUCH! What the heck?” Oh, the camera. THE CAMERA!!!! I grabbed it and ripped off the lens cap. “Camera on, CHECK. Flash up, CHECK. FIRE FIRE FIRE”. Michelle grabbed for the cat. FLASH! She missed. He’s on the covers. FLASH! Her toes are wiggling. FLASH! He just found the other cat. FLASH!. The other cat is growling and Hitch is pouncing. The other cat is attacking Hitch. FLASH!. Michelle yelled at me. “Get that [FLASH] cat!. Why aren’t you [FLASH] helping?” She threw the covers back to get out of bed and Hitch saw an opportunity. “HE’S UNDER THE COVERS!!!!”, she yelled. FLASH!

I’d like you to imaging your Grandmother’s old hand-held egg beater. Now make it room-size and add claws all around it. Begin beating. That is what happens when Hitch gets under the covers. “Ow, he bit my big toe, I yelled”. {FLASH]. Michelle was now completely out of bed, crying, and very angry. “WHY [FLASH] ARE YOU TAKING PICTURES? [FLASH], she sobbed. “Because I’m prepared, I hollered back.”

It is now 5:45 am and Michelle is asleep. Both cats and I are locked out of the bedroom, but we are keeping each other company upstairs, here in my office. The sky is glowing as the sun is coming up and I’m left wondering… Maybe there is more to photography than just “being prepared.”