Just a few short weeks ago, I posted about how I do not have the room or time in my life for a pet. I wrote about how well having neighborhood cats visit worked for me. I was in a good place and thought I’d found the perfect solution. Be careful what you state publicly because it might come back to bite you.
Earlier this week, my daughter, Meagan, called me telling me they’d found a stray at her work and asking if I wanted a cat. In our family it is a long held tradition that, “I’ll think about it,” or, “Maybe,” both actually mean “Hell, no, but I don’t want to talk about it.” Naturally, in light of my not being ready for a pet, l told her I’d think about it. After a lot of thought, I called her back and told her I didn’t think I had a place in my life for a cat. She sounded disappointed by my answer. Being a glutton for punishment, I told her to make me feel guilty. Boy, did she do a good job.
They thought the cat had been hit by a truck. One eye was swollen with the third lid covering most of the eye, she had a gash on her face and on her belly, and had been infested with fleas and ticks. Because she was so affectionate with humans, the consensus at her office was that the cat had probably been a pet at one time or another. The office had put together a pool and had paid for Meagan to take the cat to the vet. She’d been treated for all her ailments and was in need of a home. Meagan has two Rottweiler’s and couldn’t bring a cat into her home, but, “Gee Mom, I hate the thought of taking her to a shelter after all she’s been through.”
Well, Meagan knows her mother. If she’d told me it was a purebred cat that had been raised in the gentlest of circumstances, I probably wouldn’t have had any problem saying “No.” But, tell me about a poor, injured animal who had been abandoned by humans who should’ve taken care of her, and I melt like butter on a hot day.
So, I now have a cat. She is the gnarliest, most beat-up beast I think I’ve ever seen. She reminds me more than a little of Grizabella from the play “Cats.” She is so skinny that when she darts across the room she looks like a ferret with long legs. Her left eye is swollen with that third lid covering part of the eyeball, so she always looks like she’s squinting at you. There is a scabby ring around her neck where I can almost guarantee you there used to be a collar that she outgrew but no one was there to remove it for her.
When I picked the cat up from the vet, she had already gained a little weight and the vet was pleased with her progress. I was told, quite casually, to be sure and give her a dropper full of antibiotics every morning and evening. I just as casually took the medicine and assured the vet I would do that. That night, when I was getting ready for bed, I remembered that casual promise. It’s been so long since I’ve had a pet, I’d forgotten what it’s like to give medicine to a cat. About 30 minutes later, after traumatizing both the cat and myself, I managed to get enough down her throat for me to feel like I’d accomplished the job. I have since figured out that if I wrap her up in a towel and calm her for a few minutes, I can usually get the majority of the medicine down her throat.*
The vet also told me, equally casually, that while she didn’t think the cat was pregnant, she did have some swelling that might indicate she was in the early phases of pregnancy. My daughter, who was there, quickly assured me that if the cat was pregnant, she wouldn’t have any problems finding people to take the kittens. I calmly looked at the cat and informed her that she had better not be knocked up or she would be in big trouble. I’m hoping that was an effective treatment of any possible pregnancy.
I had initially planned on calling the cat Hazel, but every time I talked to her I was calling her Sugar or Sugar Bear. It seemed silly to me to name her twice, so now the cat’s official name is Sugar Bear, but that is usually abbreviated to Sugar or Shug. Why not? At least if I ever have to holler for her outside I’ll sound nice calling out her name. You know, “God damn it, get your ass in here, Sugar.” I should’ve thought of that with my kids. I would’ve at least sounded nicer when I was yelling at them if their names had been Sweetie, Sugar and Honey.
It’s now been a few days and the cat and I are getting used to each other. She is eating well and using the litter box faithfully, but she spends most of her time under my bed. I have to pull her out to force feed her antibiotics twice a day and after that ordeal she’ll consent to lay with me on the bed for a while. Soon though, she’ll find her way back under the bed.
Yesterday, I started leaving the bedroom door open whenever I’m home so she can explore if she chooses. Today was the first time she left the bedroom to explore the other parts of the apartment. She found a chair to sit under and then pretty soon came moseying back in to return to her home under my bed. I am okay with her desire to stay under the bed. The more she confines herself, the less potential damage to my belongings and wiring.
Like most relationships, only time will tell how this one progresses. I am not so cat crazy that I’m rushing her in her journey to adjust to being taken care of again. She appears to be used to human company, but for good reason, is not so crazy about us to rush to earn my affection. We are mutually happy to move slowly and just see where this one takes us.
Telling the world that I wasn’t ready for a cat apparently brought one to me. I am a little overwhelmed about stirring up that kind of energy. In the future I will be more conservative about making declarative statements, or at least put more thought into what I’m declaring. Apparently, just being careful about what you ask for is not enough. I am finding you need to be careful about what you don’t ask for.
*If you’d like to read one of the funnier descriptions I’ve ever read of how to give a cat a pill, please check out this link. http://www.alsforums.com/forum/comedy-humour-jokes/10140-need-laugh-how-give-cat-pill.html