Today I had to take my cat to the vet, and one of my kids to the doctor. The kid just has a persistent cough (post nasal drip seems to be the culprit). The cat was peeing blood in what seems to be a long-term recurring battle with urinary tract infections. The vet trip was the more stressful of the doctor visits given that peeing blood is usually not a good thing and he is an old cat. Plus we have sort of a policy on cats which is if they need more than $1,000 in veterinary repairs, they are totalled.
Let’s step back in time to twelve years ago, when I acquired a cat by the name of Asher. He was howling away inside of a box at Starbucks, where he was being given away by a young mom who couldn’t keep him because apparently, he kept attacking her kids. Being a single-ish (dating but not married) over-30 lady, and not having any kids at the time, I saw no problems with this behavior. All I saw was a cute, grey, über-fluffy cat about a year old, and in need of a home. I had a home in need of a cat. What could go wrong?
Well, the first thing that went wrong was that my boyfriend (later to become my husband) didn’t like cats. I didn’t consider this a problem and figured his dislike of cats could be overcome simply by spending more time with one, petting it and smelling its soft, warm fur. Which sounds good in theory unless a) the person in question dislikes and is also allergic to cats and b) the cat in question is the kind that bites when you pet him or try to put your face near his body. Both of which turned out to be the case. The cat didn’t help matters by being the sort that specializes in sneak attacks and stalking and pouncing on passing legs like they are some wily prey.
Over time, the husband and the cat came to an uneasy truce, but the balance of power is still a fragile thing. Violence occasionally erupts when the cat decides you’ve petted him too long, or you’ve invaded into an area that he has determined to be his territory (such as sleeping in the linen closet on top of the towels). As a long time cat owner, I just naturally know how to deal with these situations (keep petting sessions brief, distract the cat with the left hand while grabbing towels with the right). But these things are harder to explain to husbands and small children who lack a natural affinity for dealing with felines. My older son and I are both pretty good readers of the cat’s mood. Little brother and my husband are not. Which leads me to the conclusion that some people are just “cat people,” and others not – just as some cats are “people cats.” Mine, again, is not.
That all said, the cat has come up in our family’s estimation in recent years given how well he has handled the transition from a household without children, to one with 2 active, rambunctious and grabby little boys. Well, one of the boys is grabby – the other as I said is just naturally a better reader of the cat and handles him better. The cat has taught the other one to have respect and give a wide berth because if he doesn’t the cat bops him. He’s never hurt him, just “gotten his attention” with a swift paw to the face.
We always refer to Asher as the “worlds most expensive free cat,” because he is prone to UTIs, and various other veterinary ailments. The veterinarian refers to him as the cat from hell because he hates the vet office and everyone in it, and when they handle him he has to be handled in the same protective gear they wear when dealing with vicious dogs. So after dropping off the cat to be checked out, the first call I receive is to ask if they can sedate him. Of course, knowing how he is, I said yes.
Ultimately, I got the call that Asher would be okay, and that he just needs to be on more expensive food to help prevent further UTIs (of course). But even though he is how he is, we realized how much we would miss him if he were gone…so maybe we should rethink our limit in cat repairs. Even the husband realized that the cat adds something to our family – and not just hair balls and vet bills.