Anyone who has shared their life with a furry and adorable, yet sometimes annoying four legged creature can relate. Pet-free people will not want to continue reading, since the details of this story would be considered Too Much Information. Let’s just say one of the things on my very boring to-do list is to trim the feline equivalent of tail feathers on my longhaired cat. The groomers call it a “sanitary cut” or some such. For several years I have not been able to have him bathed and groomed professionally - he has become such a fighter when they attempt to bathe him, he needs full sedation and I can’t bring myself to do that. During the 2003 firestorms here in Southern California, his white fur turned dirty gray during a roll on the sidewalk on his nightly walk around the house (on a halter and leash here in coyote country). I tried out some of the dry and foam shampoos, which actually work pretty well. He still hates it but we manage to do that occasionally without drawing blood. Mostly we just live with the slightly scraggly look, outside of a weekly brushing.
He is getting to be an old boy, around 12 (indoor cats can live to age 20) and is increasingly finicky about his food. When he refuses to eat, the whole “body as a machine” thing is thrown off, and we have problems on top of problems, often at 4:30 a.m. You cannot win against a cat on a hunger strike. He has some sort of gastritis; a sensitive stomach and can only tolerate certain foods. No Friskies or supermarket dry food for this guy. He is now rejecting even the expensive healthy canned stuff I buy online, and the lightly sautéed ground turkey I cook for him. Not to mention the frequent upchucking I have to deal with (enzyme cleaner, spray cleaners, portable carpet shampooer). Hairballs, digestive problems, clawing furniture, shedding, just don’t let anyone say that cats are “low maintenance pets” which from my experience is an oxymoron.
I have spent some time these past few days crawling around the floor, cleaning up the carpet, trying to give him his vitamins/hair ball stuff, and coax him to eat. Insane? Probably. As a caregiver to an actual human also, I think perhaps the cat is my teacher. My Dad actually is a bit better behaved in these areas, although there are some parallels. From a woman’s perspective they are both sloppy guys to have around. My Dad also has digestive problems, although he still does very well for his age, eldercare often entails some very similar considerations as I’ve been going thru with my little fur child.
Sometimes I think about walking out the door, and not coming back. Both of them mess up the house, and don’t listen to me. Even though I have fantasies of living alone in an ocean front condo, no meals to prepare on someone else’s schedule, no cleaning up messes I didn’t make myself. I could just lock the door, head to the airport and travel to places that now I can just read about, but I’d miss them both.