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The Cat Who Cheated Death

I worked from home on Tuesday so I could take the cat to the vet. I wanted to bring her in that following Saturday, but they were booked solid. Becca and I would be in Portland the next weekend and I didn’t want to put it off another week.

Kitty (full name “Acoustic Kitty”) hasn’t been doing well lately. Her appetite isn’t what it once was and she’s lost a lot of weight. Kitty will turn 17 this summer and that’s getting up in the range where a lot of cats drop dead. I’d rather that didn’t happen to Kitty right away because I like her better than I like most people.

After dialing into the daily stand-up meeting for work, I loaded the cat into her carrier, bungee corded that to a cart, and headed off toward Mission Pet Hospital.

Becca had the day off so she tagged along. I appreciated that. I could use the company and also the emotional support if the diagnosis was bad.

The cat carrier is way too big. It is intended for a dog and a large one at that. I bought it at a flea market in the parking garage beneath the big church at 24th and Valencia. On October 31, the church would hold a “harvest festival” in the same space and beckon children to come enjoy a Halloween free of ghosts, goblins, and other manifestations of Satanism. Unsurprisingly, attendance was quite low at these events. It was better at the flea market because the junk sold there did not exist to spoil anyone’s good time.

I used to have a cat-sized cat carrier, but it was too small. I got it at a thrift store back in 2002. Technically, Kitty could fit in the thing. Whiskey dick can also fit in a condom, but not without a comparable level of difficulty getting it there.

I suppose if I follow the “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” model, I’ll eventually purchase a cat carrier that is just right. There is no rush on that though. A trip to the vet is going to suck for the cat no matter what. Riding there in something less spacious than a barn won’t make it any better.

Kitty hunkered down and stared through the bars of the carrier. Other than roaming the network of backyards behind our place (a privilege that got revoked in recent years), trips to the vet are her only glimpse of the outside world. I would like to think that there is some small part of the experience she enjoys, but I doubt it.

I’m sure it’s one big assault on her senses. There’s the sound of traffic on the street and footsteps on the sidewalk, the smell of car exhaust, and the sight of unknown people and the occasional dog.

If there was any noise that comforted her, perhaps it was the sound of the wheels on the concrete. It comforted me. It was the sound of progress being made. We would soon be at the vet and past having to maneuver around people who choose the middle of the sidewalk to congregate and talk about their bullshit, as well as the constant threat of one the wheels hitting a pebble and sending cart, carrier, and cat tipping sideways.

I doubt Kitty thought much about the destination. That would entail some grasp of the concept of the future. Cats live wholly in the present and this cat’s present must have seemed unendurable.

In a way, I envied her that. Not knowing anything is often preferable to knowing just enough to worry. In my case, I knew there was a chance that Kitty would have to be put down. If I had also known the visit would result in blood and urine tests, a change in medication, and a wait-and-see, I would have been more relaxed.

I’m not trying to pretend that showing some concern for my cat makes me a good person. It doesn’t work like that. Hitler was nice to his dog. I just know what it feels like to have an animal put to sleep.

Back in 2005, I used to leave my bedroom open so Kitty could go out whenever she pleased. This also meant other cats (and the occasional raccoon) could come in. There was this orange, feral who came by on a regular basis. As time passed, the cat became less skittish. He also began to stumble around as if he were drunk. I don’t know if the two were related.

Anyway, he came to visit one day and started rubbing against my leg as I sat on the toilet. He did not look good so I caved and took him to the vet, where he was diagnosed with advanced liver disease and cat AIDS. I said OK to the suggested euthanasia and gave him scritches while he died.

Even though this was a cat I didn’t care about that much, it kind of fucked me up. That probably explains why I was in a partial state of denial about my cat and would have put off her trip to the vet even longer if Becca hadn’t reminded me. God knows how I’ll react when it comes time for Kitty to get her hot shot.

Maybe I’ll handle it with dignity, only tearing up in a subdued manner reminiscent of manly men watching the end of Brian’s Song. A more likely scenario is that I’ll freak out, perhaps even grab the needle from the veterinarian’s hand and plunge it into the side of my neck.

OK, that last part is not all that likely, but what if it happened? I doubt a cat dose would kill me, but it might get me really high. Better yet, it might give me a red-pill (more Matrix than MRA) epiphany that allows me to see the world as it really is. And if seeing reality turned the vet into a lamprey and Becca into a chimp, so be it. Kitty would still be alive and I would still love Becca even if she started eating my face.

When you have an aging cat to care for, you need to be ready for all eventualities.