Cat Hospital

sickness-2.jpg

Our bathroom is now a hospice ward in what is turning out to be a cat hospital. The patients outside of the hospice ward are low acuity; they are working through issues of obesity and anxiety, an over production of hairballs and general sense of neediness.  Patient X is not working through, over, or around any issues.  She exists between life and death, stuck in the moment right after the sun sets and pulls the light from the sky, slowly wasting away in a state of limbo. 

I want Patient X to be comfortable and the environment is important in this goal.  The window is covered; the room stays cool and dark, even during the day.  Patient X no longer needs to keep her days and nights separated.  

Each day, I give her a fresh dish of water and crunchy kibble.  Last week, she moved the bits around with her paw to make it look like she had some interest in it.  Now, it’s all she can do to turn her pink nose up at it and lay back down in her box. 

I then sweep up the loose litter and scoop out the clumps and wet spots, but today, there is nothing to clean out.  There is only a dying cat hiding under a soft towel in a cardboard box, neither eating nor eliminating.  She watches me with dull eyes that sparkled green with curiosity and trouble not long ago; they are much like the changed eyes of my grandfather since the cancer spread through his body.  He, too, is lounging about in limbo, losing time and strength as his body winds down from eighty years of constant life.      

Sickness takes up space, a lot of it, especially where every nook and cranny is already filled with a knickknack or stack of books.  It’s hard to prioritize and harder to understand other than that it happens.  Sickness leads to a sadness that fills up rooms and houses, spills out windows and forces open doors.  When the sadness has no place else to go, it shimmies and shakes its way down the road to the neighbor’s house and lets itself in through the backdoor for a season.   Until then, I guess it’s here to stay.

Tentative

Advertisements

Fine Dining

catfd
Feast
In an unusual spirit of generosity, I decided to prepare a special dinner for my girls.

I carefully considered the options from the fancy cat food shelf. Tuna or salmon, chicken livers or chicken in oil for the carnivorous cat and gluten-free, organic vegetarian options for the California cat. There was no shortage of choices so I grabbed a tasty chicken-like meat blend and headed home, excited for their reactions to this rare delicacy.

Six almond shaped eyes watched me as I divided up the can of smelly gunk into three little dishes. Only two of the six eyes showed any reaction, naturally belonging to the oldest and wisest of the pack.

Her tail might be skinny and her back balding, but her sense of smell was a keen as when she had a full set of teeth and thick, lush fur. Jibber-Jabber knew what a treat was about to be within a paw’s reach, the much sought after and desired canned cat food that she remembered from her kittenhood.

Jibber-Jabber sat anxiously where she expected her dish to be placed, next to her water bowl proudly reading, #1 Cat. She took this title seriously, especially when she had to deal with a young and foolish #2 and #3 cat.

They aren’t #1 Cat material, she mused while waiting. Her white whiskers twitched with impatience.

#2 and #3 mewed in anticipation of the hard, crunchy kibble to fill their dishes. They wanted the same kibble that filled their dishes every day and nourished their furry bodies and left them craving more.   Hard, crunchy kibble was to them what the white bread and peanut butter sandwich was to me growing up.  Change is hard and often unwanted.

They sniffed at the dishes with the wet cat food and stepped back in disgust. I got down on my hands and knees, scooped up a fingerful and offered it their sensitive, pink noses.

“Come on, just try a little taste. You will love it,” I promised.  It was the same kind of cajoling I used with my clients as I encouraged them to try new things, like budgeting.  Admittedly, I learned this type of negotiation from my own mother who swore I would like new things, if I just gave them a try, like lima beans and swimming.  Bleh.

The cats glared at me for what could only be considered treason in their small cat brains and left the kitchen.

In the meantime, Jibber-Jabber snorted and purred as she gulped down mouthfuls of the grey mush. She glanced over at her departing comrades with the simple and greedy joy that comes from not having to share the last piece of pizza or in this case a three course meal in which each course was the same, nasty wet cat food.

Burning Questions

fire

Before the fire, I wanted to be a real writer. I wanted to write stories and books, essays and poems. I wanted to move readers with my words into action and compassion. Now, I just want to free myself of the words and be done with them.

“I’m bleeding,” our neighbor screamed as he burst through the front door.

Bright, red blood was splattered over his face.  It dripped from his hand and arm, which he held away from his body at a strange angle. An old dog trotted out next to him, faithful and endlessly loyal to his panicking owner.

This would be the perfect way to start a short story if it was fiction, if real smoke didn’t follow him out of the house in rolling waves. His girlfriend emerged from the dark smoke in bare feet and flimsy pajamas. She ran across the street with a pet carrier and set it down on the sidewalk.

She gasped for a breath of fresh air and yelled, “Call 911. The house is on fire!”

Without waiting, she ran back to the house and a cat started to wail from inside of its tiny prison. A small white paw poked out from one of the holes of the carrier and disappeared back inside. The wailing continued and then suddenly stopped. I understood the cat’s pathetic cries, an innocent victim of its humans’ actions..

It was how I felt at being left with the chubby babysitter of my youth or forced onto the school bus, taking one big step after the other, away from safety and towards the unknown. I wailed back then, just like the mangy cat on our sidewalk.

The neighbors kept running into their smoke filled house in search of the rest of their pets. Logic was overridden in their mad hunt for the frightened cats that did not want to be found. Sirens pierced through the summer air, deafening our pleas to the couple to stay out of the house. Help was on the way, if only to drag the fools out of the burning house.

In the meantime, the old dog flopped onto the sidewalk next to its sorrowful feline companion, patiently waiting for its master to return, being blind and deaf has its occasional perks.

Fortunately, the fire was put out quickly and the bleeding was stopped at the hospital. The pets were eventually reclaimed and all of the nosy neighbors returned to their respective homes.

Unfortunately, the night of the fire, I read an essay by Joan Didion. It was unusual for me to read non-fiction and a surprise how much I enjoyed it until I got to the last paragraph which stopped me cold turkey, dead in my tracks, (insert your favorite cliché here).

“My only advantage as a reporter is that I am so physically small, so temperamentally unobtrusive, and so neurotically inarticulate that people tend to forget that my presence runs counter to their interests. And it always does. That is one last thing to remember: writers are always selling somebody out.”
― Joan Didion, Slouching Towards Bethlehem

Words have never chilled my blood as quickly.  They spoke directly to my mind and heart and left me with questions that demanded to be addressed, especially in burning light of the neighbors’ home.

What am I doing on here?  When does story telling cross the line? Is there a way to write something decent and not sell anyone out?  Who have I already sold out and at what cost?  I am left wondering as a writer and a person, now what?

I clearly have some thinking to do.

The Slow Blink

slow blink

The slow blink, it’s a sign of sleepiness or a medical condition in humans. In cats, however, it’s a form of communication. Some say that slow blinking at or between cats is like sending a kitty kiss and that it signals the slow-blinker as non-threatening. I always thought it was a way to show dominance (wrong) and to force the recipient into submission (also wrong) which is likely why I never received the expected response from my furry friends.

Somehow the silent message sent with the slow blink and the unbroken stare got mixed in my mind, as well as the fact that these techniques should only be used on felines not supervisors or presenters at business meetings.

It was a simple mistake, easily made by anyone who works from home and spends too much time away from people.

Yesterday, I regretfully tried to slow blink a presenter at a meeting in hopes of making him go away. He stood behind a podium reading numbers off of a power point slide which is definitely a presenting no-no, even for a head honcho.

As peon in the back row of the room, I had what I thought to be a secret weapon. I was going to slow blink him into submission and away from the podium. He would slide quietly into his chair while declaring the meeting adjourned, thus releasing his captive audience back to their respective work areas. I was going to be a hero.

I started the slow blink when he looked in my general direction, preparing for the basic and total submission.

Instead, we got nada-nothing-zip-zero response, just a disturbed look of annoyance, and another half hour of numbers and projections in the same monotone voice.

This prompted me to review the slow blink and its effectiveness.

Readers, it really is only meant for cats.

http://www.petsadviser.com/behaviors/cats-blink-slowly-at-you/

http://www.mewsletter.com/ask-fancy/cat-slow-blink

http://cats.about.com/od/amyshojai/a/Cat-Talk-Cat-Eye-Blink.htm

The Best of Apartment Living: a retrospective look

piggy bank
1.Rent
It is money that you never see again and good riddance to bad rubbish- who needs all those bills weighing down your pockets or cluttering up your savings account/fireproof lock box hidden under your bed.

2.Snow Removal/Lawn Care
There is always a boozy smelling guy salting, scraping, and shoveling in the winter or mowing and blowing in the summer making the complex a safer, nicer place to live in between trips to the work shed for his “medicine”.

3.Third hand contact buzzes
Pot smokers turn on their bathroom fan to clear out the smell of cheap weed which gets recirculated throughout the rest of the building thanks to the most up to date ventilation system of the 1950’s.

“What’s that smell you ask, Granny? Someone must be cooking something with a lot of herbs in it.”

“What’s that, Granny? Now you would really like something chocolaty or maybe a bag of chips?”

4.Broken Water Pipes
Since doing the right thing isn’t always the cheapest thing, broken water pipes get repaired with saran wrap and duct tape. Renter’s insurance should replace anything that gets ruined by ice cold brown water that has been in waiting to rain down since last winter, when the exact same thing happened to the last tenants.

5.Meeting people like the tomato-growing-cat-protector
She started by setting out a dish of food for a stray cat and ended up feeding and sheltering an entire colony of feral cats- all this between the buckets of tomatoes that she grew underneath of the stilted stairs and deck area of the apartments that faced the pond. Surprisingly enough, someone complained to management about the colony and the buckets of tomatoes. The tomato-growing-cat-protector was asked to stop feeding the colony and the cat boxes were mysteriously removed – to which she responded by replacing the boxes, leaving out bigger dishes of food, and bringing the ones she could catch to live in her apartment.

She was asked to leave the apartment complex by eviction notice- apparently harboring a colony of feral cats breaks the no-pet rule but the tomatoes were ok.

Hirsute Roommates

mad cat

Most days I work from home.

Sure, I miss going to the office to see other people and a different set of walls that those of my home. However, I don’t miss getting up early, scraping ice from my car every morning, fighting traffic, or micromanagement. I get up a little later, power up my computer and am suddenly “at work”. I take breaks for laundry or to grab a coffee with a friend and leave as needed for meetings and home visits with clients.

It’s a mostly perfect arrangement, aside from three problems, the roommates.

They never leave. This is naturally very exhausting so they spend most of their time sleeping. When they are awake, they are fully energized for at least a half an hour of chaos and disruption. Even worse, they use discretion in choosing their times of mayhem, which is generally limited to when I’m on the phone with my supervisor, a client in crisis, or a conference call.

Just yesterday, I was on the phone with someone who was about to lose her home. She was crying and explaining how it all happened when the gang came barreling down the hallway. The two sisters were chasing Big White like cheetahs racing across the savanna after a doomed antelope. Big White ran for her life and leapt onto the table for my protection.

In her big clumsy hurry, she knocked my coffee mug over. The cheetah sisters followed Big White’s trajectory onto the table and over it after her as she continued to flee, now drenched in coffee. I muted the call and fortunately, the woman had a quite a story to share and was none the wiser. It was about this time that the sisters overtook Big White and a terrific fight ensued.

They were all put into the backroom from which they promptly escaped by the collective power of meowing and pounding on the door. Once they broke free, silence returned. I breathed a sigh of relief wrongly thinking I could return to work for a few hours until they were recharged again.

A few peaceful minutes passed before they had regrouped and returned with a new mission to obtain food.

First, they jumped on my keyboard to make sure I was paying attention. Then, they started to meow together like they had practiced this performance and Big White was the maestro. Lastly, the littlest one hopped onto a potted houseplant (not toxic to cats) and started to bite off the leaves and looked at me, as though to say, “We will find our own food if you don’t feed us immediately.”

What did I do?

I caved, of course.

I can’t refuse those little hairy roommates anything.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hirsutism

nose blind?

cat3
Recently, we were expecting company and up against the clock to prepare for their arrival. The house was a wreck, but only because of our three roommates. To put it simply, they are hairy, lazy bums. When they aren’t lounging on the couch or hacking up hairballs, they are kicking litter out of their boxes, digging in the potted plants, or tearing up random mail/papertowels/anything they feel like destroying.

And they don’t even pay rent!

In any case, we launched into a crazy, cleaning frenzy. We swept, mopped, dusted, and scrubbed. The fridge was cleared of mold covered leftovers, the trash was bagged, and the clutter was organized. After a few hours, the place was spotless from top to bottom. The floors gleamed and the windows sparkled.

It was impressive what we accomplished that afternoon. Our roommates came out of hiding (they hate the vacuum and all cleaning activities) and sniffed the air. They inspected each room before throwing themselves onto the couch with bored yawns and meowed for an early dinner. Bums, right?

As I put the cleaning supplies away, I heard spritzing from the next room. The spritzing noise traveled through the rest of the house. I tried to quietly creep towards the sound and was stopped by a scent-wave of artificial wild orchids that stuck in my throat.

Coughing through the mist and covering my eyes, I escaped into the unpolluted air of the living room. I found my darling husband with a bottle of febreze and a determined on look on his face. He was carrying out a self-imposed mission to spread the potent odor of fake flowers throughout our home.

When he saw me choking on the sweet air, he stopped and smiled.

With the bottle in one hand, he explained, “It’s in case we’ve gone nose blind from the cats.”

I couldn’t argue with him and suddenly feared it was true. This was something that I had heard about somewhere…the nose blind concept.  Could we have gone nose blind and even with all of that cleaning, the smell of stinky cats still lingered?

How embarrassing.

Nose-blindness is a stealthy condition that slowly overtakes olfaction when exposed to less pleasant smells on a regular basis. It’s an adjustment of the senses to a new normal that happens without one’s self-awareness of the change.

Yet again, he saved me, the hero of my senses.

Of note:

Later, I remembered where I heard about this condition.  The same place where I get all of my other reliable information, commercials from tv, of course.  This is a real condition, if conditions that are invented and coined by huge corporations as part of advertising strategies are real. The first article listed below actually uses science to explain the phenomenon. Whoa!

Check it out.

Here are some links:
http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2014/08/why-cant-you-smell-your-own-home.html
http://www.febreze.com/en-US/noseblind
http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=noseblind

Post Christmas Puke

elf

There is nothing quite like running late for work the day after Christmas.

Everything was a mess from the holiday hustle bustle with rogue boxes on the couch, batteries rolled under the rug, abandoned sheets of tissue paper, and half-finished laundry on the table. Bags and opened packages were dropped in the hallways from coming back late on Christmas night and remained as cheery remnants of December 25/trip hazards in the morning.

Perhaps, most off putting of the morning, we were out of bananas for breakfast. Grocery shopping had not made the to-do list with all of the other shopping and preparations. The only option to save me from starvation was left-over Christmas cookies and old almond milk, the breakfast of champions and night time snack of hipster Santas.

Needless to say, I was not seizing the day. I was stumbling towards my one and only goal for the day: make it to work before my supervisor noticed I wasn’t there.

Fortunately, I had enough foresight to lay out my least wrinkled sweater, scarf and pair of socks the night before to save time in the morning.

After aimlessly shuffling around and getting nothing done, I mustered up the strength to take a quick shower, feasted on cookies and milk and pushed the X-mas junk into a pile for later. I just had to get dressed and head out the door. The sweater was in my hands, a millisecond away from going over my head, when I noticed it was wet. In fact, it was more than wet. There was also a massive hairball and several perfect circles of bright, yellow bile on the sweater. I suppose I should mention that the goo wasn’t contained to the sweater only, it also found its way to my scarf and socks that were meant for the day.

After a quick sweep of the room, I found the guilty party. She was sticking half way out from under the bed skirt watching me cry out in disgust as I stepped into another pile of goo. If she could have giggled or snickered, she would have at that very moment. Her whiskers quivered and her little cat face smirked at me without a hint of remorse.

Just eight hours earlier, I called her my white princess and hand fed her snacks while she purred on my lap. I struggled to understand how she could do such a malicious thing to me a few short hours later.

“Why?” I cried out, partially expecting an answer.

It felt personal, this attack of biological warfare.

Still trying to get a grip on the situation, I cleaned up the mess, found another sweater, and hurried to the office considering what a mean creature shared a pillow with me at night. Maybe it was time that she got her own pillow, I mused vindictively.

When I finally made it and settled into my cube for the day, I looked down at what I was wearing. Stripes and spots, great. I was glad that everyone else had taken off the day to spare them the confusion of my outfit. I cursed the name of my white princess again and shook my fists in the air.

Before I could really start the day, I needed to get ahold of myself. I needed to take a tour of the internet news and check my horoscope and any other links that popped up demanding to be explored to get my mind off of the mess and the sweater saboteur living in my home.

At the bottom of a random page, it said, “It is best to err on the side of compassion…”

I think there was more, but I was already considering the implications of this message for my day. Of course my white princess wouldn’t intentionally sabotage my work outfit. So what if she did, it was probably so we could spend the day together after being apart for Christmas.

Kitty logic, go figure.

Erring on the side of compassion is a mistake that I can afford to make with my darling cat.

Oh hard heart, how fast a well-placed quote can soften your edges.

I’m just not sure if I have enough reserve to do the same with humans.

Two for the price of one

This weekend, my husband and I drove to southern Indiana to house-sit for a friend.  We came back today with well-deserved hangovers and two kittens.  While the details of the great cat acquisition remain somewhat hazy, it is clear that the kittens are here to stay. 

They look like fat little tigers and run with a hopping lean off to the left, like their legs are unevenly matched in length.  It’s an endearing gait that makes everything they do precious.  I hope the vet agrees with my impression of the situation as something cute and not neurological/physiological.  

As we continue to be delighted with the duo’s antics and endless energy, Big Jelly does not share our sentiments.  Big Jelly is an old, overweight cat with a long list of things that she doesn’t like; little cats top the list.

Thankfully, the kittens are napping now from the car ride home, hours of tearing through the apartment after each other, climbing up the backside of furniture, and taunting Big Jelly.  We are just as tired from chasing after the little cats and preventing the cat fight that is certain to ensure between the kittens and Big Jelly.

I am sure that with enough time and coaxing, the kittens and Big Jelly will become fast friends or least will tolerate being in the same room.  By Christmas, I hope to send out a card with the three curled up together on a cushion with their human caretakers, with a message that says, “The more, the merrier.”

Life is a funny and unpredictable journey filled with twists and curves along the way; where we end up and who is there with us is an ongoing mystery.  Who could have guessed that we would come home with two, naughty little kittens?  Or that they would have already brought so much happiness and laughter?  

What is the secret to attaining the same level of kitten induced joy without adopting an animal?  Appreciate the small things of life, take chances, and then go ahead and treat yourself by adopting a kitten or two.

Too close to the quick

The morning was dark and I felt too lazy to flip on the lights.  As I lounged on the couch and sipped from a mug of hot coffee, Miss Kitty purred next to me.  She looked lovingly up at me when I scratched behind her ears, pleased to have company for the day. 

I set my mug down on the table next to the couch and noticed a pair of forgotten nail clippers, abandoned by my husband after the previous night’s project (his toes).  It suddenly occurred to me as the perfect time to trim Miss Kitty’s nails.  The cat, the tool, and the time were practically bundled up and tied with a bow for me.  I would be a fool to ignore the chance to snip her claws, I foolishly thought.

“Miss Kitty,” I said, petting her soft, white head.  “It’s time to go to the beauty shop and get your nails done.”  

Her loving look turned to one of suspicion as soon as I picked up the nail clippers and tucked her underneath of my arm into a gentle but iron-strong hold.  She stopped purring and began squirming, wriggling back and forth, desperate to escape.  She knew what it meant to “go to the beauty shop” and it always ended in sore paws. 

“Not so fast, Miss Kitty,” I said and tightened my grip. 

I held her little paw in my hand and squeezed out the first claw.  She yanked her paw back and I lost my grip.  It was a wrestling match, woman vs. cat, and I’m sorry to say we were both losers.  In the struggle, I snipped one nail too close to the quick.  Miss Kitty screamed like a Hell demon and stared at me with wild and untrusting eyes.  I shrieked in surprise and she scratched me, afraid of more nail trimming.

She has not forgotten about the experience yet, but appears to have forgiven me with the help of Whisker Lickin’ treats, excessive apologizing, and more head scratching.  I knew we were on the mend when she started to purr again, and fell asleep next to me for a nap later in the day.  If only forgiveness was as easy with humans, to be cut to the quick and still able to forgive, but never to forget.  Remembering is what makes us human, right?  

Previous Older Entries

Blog Stats

  • 7,272 hits