Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Paws for Reflection

A few weeks ago, I became aware of my cat’s mortality. She used up at least one if not a couple of her nine lives.  When we took her to the vet in November, we learned that she has an overactive thyroid for which she is now being treated. And then, out of the blue, at the end of December just three days before Christmas, she had a blood clot in her back leg.

In the middle of the night, she woke us up with her constant cries. She couldn’t put weight on her hind leg and she couldn’t get comfortable. She went up and down the stairs and all over the house, crying in pain.  Rather than having something in her paw or a sprain, we found out that she very likely had a blood clot. So we started treating her for that. The day after Christmas, the blood clot theory was confirmed when her leg swelled up and in response to whatever pain or nerve sensations she was having, she basically chewed through her lower leg to the bone.  She is now on Plavix and doing well—we’re hopeful that we’re saving her leg from being amputated by following a regimen prescribed by the vet. We’re bandaging her leg each day and using honey on alternate days. I’d like to take a moment here to praise the healing powers of honey. The honey, along with the silver sulfadiazine seems to be doing the trick.

Sydney—my cat—is 13 years old and the vet has alerted me that Sydney is now a senior citizen.  This stunned me almost as much as when someone recently referred to me as “middle aged”. Middle aged? Really? That stung and it didn’t help that my response was “What you talkin’ ‘bout, Willis?” But, getting back to Sydney… I should also mention that I have been known to describe her as my soul mate and I don’t mean this in an ironic sense—well, maybe a little. I do believe that you can have more than one soul mate and I don’t mean to offend my other cat, Leroy, or my husband for that matter, but Sydney and I have clicked. We have an understanding that transcends your normal cat/person relationship. 

Sydney had belonged to a friend of mine who adopted her as a kitten. He was moving to an apartment and couldn’t bring a pet so he asked me if I would take her. I was reluctant—wouldn’t that mean making a commitment to a living thing, after all? But, when the friend shrugged and said, “Well, I guess I’ll just leave her by the side of the road”. (He denies ever having said this.) I didn’t hesitate to say I’d take her. He brought her over in her carrier on a rainy and dreary fall evening.  He left almost immediately and this didn’t prove to be such a good introduction for Sydney and me. For the next two weeks, she hid in the basement. She ate the food that I put out for her and used her cat litter, but I basically never saw her except for the one time in the middle of the night when I went into the kitchen and saw her glowing eyes staring at me. We mutually frightened one another and she flew from the counter right over my shoulder before running back to the safety of the basement.

I couldn’t take it any longer. I had to have a healthy human-cat relationship, and this was not it. After several hours together playing tennis one humid summer day, I asked this friend to come back to my house to persuade Sydney to come up from the basement and lead a normal life with me. He called her name and she came up the stairs.  He basically passed the cat master torch to me that afternoon, allowing me to pet her and get her to purr before he left. Then, I realized that I needed to take a shower and feared that this would be the end of my newfound feline friendship. But, as I was taking the shower, she sat on the bathmat and meowed until I came out. From that moment on, we were BFFs.  It turns out that Sydney is about trust. That’s her M.O. and now she trusted that I would be there for her.

And, I am. Still. I love this cat to the point that I am now a one-note character who only talks about her cats.  Since her health scare and the subsequent care that we’ve been administering, it’s also more like I just talk about her and not even my other cat, who is so adorable if not a bit fluffy (or big-boned, depending on how you look at it).  Leroy, it turns out is also a senior citizen, though he’s only 9 years old.  Apart from switching their food to the “senior cat” version, they are now both able to get into the movies with a significant discount.  I’m the only one in the household who regularly gets invitations to join AARP, however. I’m not sure how that keeps happening. I’m laughing it off until I’m eligible for the massive perks of being a member.

Until then, I’ll use my cats’ advancing ages as a reminder that we’re all getting up there but that not all of us have 8 more lives to go.  

1 comment:

  1. Hi Tracy! First I must say how happy I am that you and my favorite illustrator artist of all time,Mr.Greg Houston, are married!! Do you remember coming into Baltimore Exchange on Aliceanna St. many moons ago? I don't even think you two were officially dating then?or you were keeping it under wraps? Anyway- LOVE your blog- I feel the same way about my kitties- I had one special guy- my JACK ELVIS. Oh, he was my heart. he used to cuddle me at night and fall asleep with his head tucked under my chin and his one front leg around my neck and his back leg over my stomach. he was a lover bugger. I just had to put my Queen Lizzy down last Saturday and up until reading your blog ten minutes ago...had just stopped crying about it. Thank you for then making me burst out in laughter at the "what you talkin bout" statement. But then you brought me to tears again when you talked about your Mom; i lost mine in 2000 the night of my 29th birthday. I get it...oh life! Ups and downs of it all!!
    I am just so super happy that you and Greg are together. I am looking forward to your blogs and maybe one day we can all hang out and catch up!