I spent this past week taking some time off from work. I hesitate to call it vacation, even though it technically was vacation time. It just didn’t feel like a vacation. Mostly, it felt like one long vet appointment.
On Tuesday the cat went in for her annual shots. I had been dreading this for months, since getting her into the carrier is a production of Olympic proportions, involving at least thirty minutes, a locked bathroom door, my winter coat, and enough mewing to wake the dead. I should have known something was amiss when getting her into the carrier took all of sixty seconds; my celebrations were entirely premature.
First, the cat has a seemingly impossible (but apparently common) yeast infection in her right ear, which necessitates that twice a day I have to give her ear drops. I thought in the grand scheme of cat problems this would be a piece of cake, but it turns out that the drops have to be refrigerated. And it turns out the cat is less than pleased about having cold liquid dropped into her ear, forcing me to either a) corner her and hold her down or b) sneak up on her when she is sleeping, depending on what she is doing when it’s drop time. Afterwards she runs away, hunkers down, and gives me the stricken “You Meanie” look that makes my heart hurt. I don’t blame her one bit. Since I’m the sort of person who anthropomorphizes her spoons, let alone the living and breathing animal I share my house with, I’ve spent the past few days feeling like Dr. Evil and hanging my head in shame. Happily, ten minutes later she seems to forget all about it – but she now runs and hides every time she hears the fridge open.
While we were at the vet’s, the subject of the cat’s heart murmur came up again. She needs some dental work, for which they would sedate her, but she needs to see the kitty cardiologist again to make sure her heart is healthy enough for sedation. As I was mentally adding those costs up in my head ($600+), the vet mentioned that since the cat is now 10 years old she really ought to have a blood panel done.
(Have I mentioned that when I went to the shelter two years ago to get a different cat, this one bolted out of her cage and clung to me for dear life? That she made it clear I was not leaving with out her? That she without a doubt saw SUCKER written all over me?)
So yeah, we did the blood work. And that’s how we found out she probably has the beginning of kidney disease, but they need to do a urinalysis to confirm. This is why I am spending the weekend trying to figure out how to get a cat that insists on peeing in kitty litter 4 inches deep to instead pee in a teensy bit of plastic pellets. Then I get to drain her pee into a plastic cup, which will sit in my fridge until Monday morning when it can be dropped off at the vet.
The good news is that we caught it pretty early, and it can most likely be managed for a few years. The bad news, of course, is that it will eventually get worse and she will die. The pragmatic part of me fully accepts that this is true for all of us. But the pragmatic part of me was also the part that got ignored as it screamed “YOU SUCKER” as she happily purred on my shoulder that day at the shelter.
She’s a good purrer, this kitty; in fact, she purrs so much she drools. And I am the idiot who lets this extra-soft furry thing nestle against my neck and drool into my hair. She is the idiot that does this even after I have shoved her into a cage; driven her miles away to be poked, prodded, and stuck with needles; and then drop cold stuff into her ear canal as she dozes away in a sunny spot on the couch.
In her defense, I do hand out the food.
In my defense? When I was in the third grade I wanted a cat more than anything else in the world. I read every book on cats that the library had, and must have bored my teacher to death with all the prattling on about cats I did that year. My mom was vehemently against having pets, especially the sort that excrete. At the end of the school year my teacher, Mrs. McGaran, sent a letter home to my parents telling them that she really thought I was a great kid and would be responsible enough to take care of a pet. My mother was less than pleased, but that summer we got a cat and my fate as a cat person was sealed for life. And now, wherever eternity may be, Mrs. McGaran is laughing her ass off.