Nearly twelve years ago, when I was still living in California (glad to be out!), I decided I wanted a cat. As it turns out, the friend of a coworker (whom I not-so-affectionately call Napoleon, the coworker, not the friend) had a bunch of kittens free to a good home. So I went and picked one out.
Many years ago, I had read a story about a little girl who was mystifying her parents because every puppy she was offered, she rejected, citing “puppy size” as the reason. She finally accepted a puppy that sighed in her arms – it was “puppy sighs”. So, I decided I was going to get a kitten who would fall asleep on my chest. I went through several that were more interested in running off, until I found the one I wanted.
It turns out my method of choosing a cat was flawed. I thought I was getting a lovable one. I got a lazy one.
I will not reveal her name here, except to say she has a named derived from a character in the Harry Potter books.
She has outlasted two girlfriends and a woman who maybe could have been a girlfriend at some point if she wasn’t a complete weirdo. She has moved with me to first Oregon, then Texas. The first time I flew her, the second time I ended up driving her – which she seemed to appreciate. See, the thing about my cat, is that she is extremely attached to me. If I’m there (unless a vet is actively manhandling her) she’s actually pretty calm. But woe befall anyone who messes with her otherwise. I can’t board her, taking her to the vet is incredibly stressful for everyone (they have to sedate her just to look in her mouth, unless they catch her in a hiss!). She is a little spitfire with a personality the size of Texas.
Last week, she got sick.
When she got sick, I had no way of telling how serious it was. She LOVES to eat, and after having puked several times, she had no appetite whatsoever. I waved a piece of fish in front her of her nose, and she didn’t bite. She just wasn’t interested. Finally I decided I was too worried about her, and took her to the animal hospital.
Three hours and seven hundred dollars later, they could find nothing wrong, and I took her home.
On Friday, she started to eat again, but she wasn’t able to walk well. I was, again, getting very worried, and I took her to the vet again. Four hundred bucks later, they found a couple of more minor issues, but he was perfectly fine. So I took her home again. After a day or two of recovery, she’s walking fine, eating up a storm, and generally mostly back to her old self.
But for a while, I thought I was going to lose her. I was actually preparing mentally for the possibility of never seeing her again (the hospital allowed no one in the building for COVID reasons – an understandable but incredibly insensitive choice on their part).
My cat is just an animal. Compared to me, she has very little cognitive function, is ruled by her base instincts, gets under my skin as much as is good company, and sometimes I regret picking her out. She also has been my friend for nearly twelve years, has outlasted girlfriends, traveled with me across the country, has grown very attached to me, and trusts me about as much as any cat could trust any human they’re close to (implicitly, until the crap hits the fan, then it’s every cat for herself). I know her maybe better than any living human, and I am dreading the day that I’m going to have to let her go.
Thankfully, that day did not happen last week.
I hope it doesn’t happen for a very long time.
Even though I know it will, someday.
People who don’t live with pets don’t know what it’s like, really. She’s just a cat. She really is just a cat. She’s also my best friend and I would do anything in my power to make sure she has a long and happy cat life. Which generally means having plenty of food, getting petted sometimes, and a warm place to sleep. But I can do that. And I will. I owe her at least that much, and more besides. And she owes me nothing more than she’s already given me.
And I’m not talking about the scars.