June 13, 2006

Cat House

Have you ever heard of a cat on dialysis? Neither had I until yesterday. A friend of mine is going out of town for a week and needed someone to come over to take care of her cats while she's gone. She has 17 cats. Two of them are on dialysis due to missing/damaged kidneys and need daily IV's and shots. Another cat, Dakota, is completely disabled and can't get up from his cozy corner on the couch. Five of the cats are over 20 years old and have a total of 4 teeth between them. Toby is on a special diet to lower his weight and three more are on diets to raise their weight. Megan eats special food to control the crystals in her urine (how did she know that was a problem?) Another is mentally retarded and only puts his front two feet in the litter box. Three of them are on kitty Prozac for aggression issues as evidenced by Toby's enormous festering head wound. Oh, and Tasha has diabetes and takes medicine twice a day to control her tyroid.

I'm not making this up. Almost every one of these cats should have died years ago but my friend has an amazing gift for not letting anything die. She spends thousands of dollars and even had to cash out a few of her retirement funds to ensure each cat spends the requisite time in each of their nine lives. She has never left them before but has an important wedding to go to so is leaving the sickly cats for 6 days. I have a dreadful feeling that they will all be dead by the time she gets back. Nobody else could possibly keep these critters alive. She spends about 4 hours a day taking care of them before and after work and it seems newer, sicker cats show up on her doorstep monthly.

I went over yesterday because I am taking a shift on Saturday morning while she is gone to administer medicines, change the 10 litter boxes, lay out every cat's specialty foods and refill all the water (bottled, never tap). But I have a sick feeling in my gut that the cats are going to take one look at me on Saturday and keel over dead with an indignant meow. They'll be able to sense right away that I'm not a "cat person." I'm really not. I don't connect with them and am so brash as to hold human life much higher than the feline variety.

We had an assortment of cats growing up. We played with the kittens until they lost that cute kitty quality then took them down to the local grocery store in Scott's Corner, New York. We would arrange them nicely in a pretty laundry basket and guilt trip shoppers to take them home. I spent many hours of my childhood sitting on that curb in the parking lot making up anything people wanted to hear to convince them to take the kittens off my hands. If I remember correctly, each one of those kittens had prize-winning, Persian ancestors. Once an indignant shopper yelled at us for being irresponsible pet stewards and grabbed the entire wicker laundry basket full of cats, threw it in her SUV and screached off. We were scared to have to tell my mom her basket had been stolen but set a record for fastest dispersal of felines.

My friend is the Patron Saint of Should-Be-Dead Cats. They stream to her yeowling for fair health benefits, equal protection and the right to worship as they may. She amazes me with her bottomless affection and devotion to each little life. The only comparison I can draw to my own life is my slavish devotion to my nice Italian plates that hang on my wall. They have broken tens of times but each time I lovingly SuperGlue, repaint and rehang them as if they are my own children. But I have a feeling that her devotion will be more highly rewarded than mine. Almost every one of those cats is a walking miracle of the perpetuation of life despite all odds. My plates just make our cookies look yummier. That's important, right?

6 comments:

angela said...

You are a VERY good friend. GOOD LUCK!!

Silly Marie said...

Yowza. What an incredibly horrible task...I'm not a fan a well cats let alone sickly old cats on medicines and who knows what! I think you'll make sainthood just by agreeing to help her out.

Anonymous said...

OMG, that's just crazy. I like to call myself a pet lover, I have a dog and 2 cats. However, when the expense or raising pets begins to creep into my retirement (which I don't have enough of yet) then I would say they may be better off with the Heavenly Father.

Jared said...

We have 2 dogs, a cat, and a ball python. We love our pets, but I would rather they pass on and be able to play in heaven than be on the edge of death with us.

Th. said...

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Wow. And I've just been hoping my parents' cat would finally die. I couldn't hope for that many deaths and retain my sanity....

bill said...

Scott's Corners is in Pound Ridge, New York. That's where I had my first two regular jobs. The first was bagging groceries at age 14, then the second was working the register at the pharmacy in the same shopping center. I left the first job because "it wasn't working out," which basically meant that no way was I going to work forty hours between Christmas and New Year's, and I got fired from the second after a few days when I was busy on the first or second weekend at Frost Valley, the church youth retreat. Once I turned 15 though, I was able to stay on the Connecticut side of the border and get fired from the New Canaan movie theatre after about a week for not understanding the schedule...