MARTY RUSSELL: Cabin fever means being a doorman (or mat) for pets

OK, I need some help here.

We humans have learned to cope with cabin fever throughout the centuries by staying indoors, reading a book, watching TV and listening to our spouses nag us about everything from bad habits to turning up the thermostat to whether or not we had anything to do with the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and the price of oil.

And generally we survive until the spring. Generally.

But what do you do with a house full of animals who don't read, think TV is a wasteland and may actually have had something to do with the archduke's demise?

Furthermore, they don't understand the seasons and, when you try and explain to them the Earth's tilt on its axis and its movement around the sun, they look at you like you're another archduke and another little world war might just liven things up.

There's Lula Mae, the redtick coon hound, who's gun-shy and who seems to think that racoons are just cats getting ready to knock off a bank or a liquor store. The only thing she's ever treed was a stuffed monkey, but that's another story. Then there are the cats – Tater, Godzilla and Bella.

None of the four seems to grasp the concept that just because they were literally freezing their tails off five minutes ago doesn't mean it's not sunny and balmy outside now. As a result there's a constant parade of pets going in and out, almost like a relay. One comes in as another goes out. I fully expect to catch them one day high-fiving one another as one comes in and one goes out, sort of like a changing of the watch.

This goes on all day and even in the wee hours of the morning since Godzilla has discovered that he can wake me even from a deep sleep by simply inserting one of his claws into my face and tugging on it. This always results in a few choice words and me literally throwing the cat outside only to be awakened a few minutes later by him crying to get back in.

It's driving me nuts, which is a pretty short trip.

They say the best cure for cabin fever is lots of bright light, so I'm thinking of investing in a tanning bed, not for me but for the animals. I won't even have to turn it on. Just put the animals in it and close and lock the top until, say, about May.

Marty Russell writes a Wednesday column for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at 120 Lester Hall, University MS 38677 or by e-mail at marusse1@olemiss.edu