It's official! My cat, Him Kitty, is over being mad at me for a two-night stay at the vet last week. He hasn't purred for me until this morning. Never mind that the antibiotics we've forced fed him seemed to have cured his inner-ear infection; he's not constantly scratching that ear.
But I fear that even if the purring has returned, my longtime furry friend has lost something else: kitty alzheimer's, the vet has hinted. After three visits, everything else checks out. Though there is treatment for dogs, there really isn't much for cats. I have explored some alternative remedies.
He's somewhere in the vicinity of 17 years old and has lived with us since he was a kitten. First as a you-can-see-me-but-not-touch-me fixture on the front porch, then as an ally for life when he looked at me with big kitten eyes and I knew he was hungry, very hungry, so I fed him. He soon came to live inside with out first cat, pretty much obtained in the same manner – only she was lost and crying under our deck when I retrieved her with a flashlight, then fed her.
But this guy's decline is different from when Girl Kitty [ok, so we've not blessed our cats with very creative names; never thought she'd be with us permanently, so gave her a generic name so we wouldn't get attached] went on a hunger strike and expired as the vet was attempting to diagnose her condition. Him Kitty's still eating and I have always known he was healthy by the amount of purring emanating from his throat ... until this past week, that is. And it's been pretty scary.
Part of the scariness is in feeling so very responsible for this creature who can't verbalize what he's thinking, feeling or experiencing. Although, over the years, we have learned to decipher his moods, temperaments, gestures and varying meows. What if I've misinterpreted, made a grave mistake or just don't get it?
The trip to the vet is enough to trigger cardiac arrest with his yowling, drooling and pacing. I'm such a softie that I haven't wanted to subject him to the cat carrier in this trio of vet visits over the past six months. So I purchased a small-dog harness and laid old beach towels in a basket on the front seat and looped the leash around the door handle. Invariably, he climbs out of the basket and into the foot well of the front seat, walks in a tight circle, mounts the gear shift and slides into the back seat, where I can only hear and guess that he's up and down and all over each seat and floor space. That and the tell-tale cats hairs collecting on every surface. It always seems to be raining on this half-hour journey, so my driving concentration is tested. Occasionally, I reach back and stroke whatever bit of fur is within my reach. After a trip around all parts of the car, he usually climbs into my lap, where I pet with one hand and steer with the other. Needless to say, no Starbuck's sidetrip on this jaunt, even though I pass three along the way.
It was such a beautiful day when Lily, my ten-year-old, and I picked him up Saturday that we visited a park and paraded him around on his leash. We felt he deserved it after two nights of sleeping in a cage. More people broke out into smiles and snickers at the sight of him. He actually behaved fairly well for an animal whose nature is not in being herded. He returned home exhausted and slept.
Then we began masquerading his new meds in several foods. The coat-the-pill-in-butter trick worked once. The bite-Tad's-finger-as-Cathy-crams-the pill-down-the throat only happened once; Tad's edict. The expensive pill pockets worked ONCE. Finally we resorted to restraining him in a beach towel. Tad held him, opened his jaw and I quickly popped the pill in the back of his throat. Then we blew into his nostrils, a method gleaned online. That worked enough times to finish the round.
No wonder he's pissy, disoriented and listless. But, today he is also purring!
• What is it about animals to which we humans respond so deeply?
• How do we experience their unconditional love?
• Where else do we experience and practice unconditional love?
• How have relationships with animals nurtured us?
• How have we experienced Divine love through these creatures?
how can flesh and fur,
whiskers and claws
work so deeply into our hearts
teaching us not only
how to love, but what it feels
like to be loved unconditionally
maybe it's what we used to teasingly say
to our young daughters:
God is just dog spelled backward ... or cat