My girlfriend (now wife) and I used to live in an old farmhouse with our three cats, Bill, Ted, and Rufus. Yes, from Bill & Teds Excellent Adventure. Life was good.

The farmhouse was nothing special. It appeared to be a standard farmhouse, interchangable with any farmhouse you might see. With a few differences. This is important. Most of the hardwood floors in the house had been replaced with 1970's linoleum. Where we could, we had taken old carpeting and covered up the linoleum. The two rooms that we did first were our bedroom (upstairs at the end of the hallway) and the living room (downstairs at the base of the steps). The stairs were covered with non slip rubber mats (yuck!) and the hallway at the top of the steps was still linoleum.

All of us, my girlfriend, the cats, and myself, had a nightly ritual. After the TV was turned off for the night, we would head upstairs to the bedroom. We would shed our clothes and head into the bathroom for naked teeth brushing time. That is when the cats would show up. They would line up behind us, tails slowly moving, and wait for us to finish brushing. When the brushing was done, they would follow us into the bedroom, and hop up onto the foot of the bed.

Once we were under the covers, we were not safe. Any movement was immediately pounced upon by three cats. Of course, we used to twitch quite a bit just to get the cats to pounce. It was fun. Eventually, the pouncing led to once cat pouncing on one of the others, breaking out into full cat wrestling. The cats would eventually tire of the games, and settle down for some sleep. We too would drift off, comfortably compressed by the weight of three cats.

Then midnight would arrive.

As if fliping a lightswitch, all three cats would wake up. And start racing.

I don't think the object of the game was chasing each other. It really seemed to be a race. The rules were simple. Run really fast. The course was the interesting thing.

Since the cats were sleeping on our bed, it was the starting point and ending point. The cats would tear down the hallway and make a sliding 180 degree turn on the linoleum. They actually got quite good at this, and it was not unlike skid turns in Ridge Racer. It appeared that they would retract their front claws to get some grip, and extend their rear claws to slide on. They would whip around the turn, and extend their front claws again to grip on the rubber mats on the steps. After a quick claws extended 180 in the living room, rip, rip, rip, back up the steps, another quick turn and off to the bedroom. Up over the bed, and us, off the bed, another quick turn on the carpet, up over the bed, and us, off the bed, back down the hall. Lather, rinse, repeat.

This went on for about 15 minutes each night. It was a strange feeling being run over ever few seconds, but we got used to it. It was just part of falling asleep. Bill, Ted, and Rufus were all different sizes, and you could tell by weight who was winning. After the 15 minutes, the cats would drop back onto the bed, and go back to sleep.

There has only one casualty of the Midnight Cat Races, and it was me. As mentioned, our bed was part of the course. The cats normally ran a very close race. This night was different. Instead of the normal cat, cat, cat across the bed, it was cat, cat, (pause), cat. From the weight, I could tell the trailing cat was Ted. To correct the situation, Ted decided to cheat. It went something like this: cat, cat, (pause), cat, PAIN, cat, cat, cat. Ted had decided to make his post bed turnaround on my ear rather than the floor to gain the lead. He had bounded onto my head, extended his rear claws into my ear, spun, and continued running. My ear was used to stop him, turn him, and start him. At the time, I was drifting off to sleep, and registered the weight of the cat and the pain of claws cutting into my ear. Still groggy, I reached up and felt the blood. Quite the gusher. I did wake up enough to wash my ear and splash some hydrogen peroxide on it to prevent infection. When I woke up the next morning, I did a quick check in the mirror. I had four nice cuts in and on my ear, the longest being about an inch.

I didn't try to stop the cat races after that. We moved the bed to the opposite side of the room a few weeks later, and the cats didn't race anymore. They still did the pouncing, but never raced again.

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