Christianity and Middle-Earth

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The Ing and I

When you have inflicted seven cats upon yourself (actually I only inflicted six; my husband’s responsible for the seventh one; he would insist on removing a wee starved scrap from the inner workings of a stranger’s car), life can take on a surreal aspect at times, like a Van Gogh painting on uppers. Many people think one cat is pretty much like another, at best a low-maintenance pet for the children and at worst a creature who leaves footprints on newly washed cars, smelly surprises in the flower-beds and bits of songbird all over.

But here at Entropy House and in other secret cat-worshipping enclaves all over the country, we know better. (This is possibly because we also know that we’re outnumbered.)

Which brings us to Ing.

Ing, as I have mentioned before, is a grey-and-white varmint. Natural selection through generations of barn cats has provided him with a long pointy nose ideally suited for scavenging supper from discarded food-cans in back alleys; the same process gives him an extremely elastic conscience to go with the snout: I Take What I Want and I Want What is Yours.

He is Fierce and Dangerous and a Force To Be Reckoned With (when not collapsed in an infantile mush trying frantically to nurse on his beloved Arry like a starving kitten—until Arry gets tired of kneading claws and soggy fur and swats him one). We suspect the veterinarian of having missed something whilst neutering.

Ing’s predecessor in my affections was an orange and white Manx with a poofy two-inch wiggy-wag of an excuse for a tail. He was four years old when a sudden heart problem involving a large clot necessitated him being put to sleep in my arms, despite all that the veterinary school in Raleigh and free rein with a credit card could do for him. So when Ing was discovered to have a bit of a heart murmur, we rushed him to Raleigh, too (at least this time it wasn’t after hours and in a panic) and, sure enough, his echocardiogram revealed a cardiomyopathy that will eventually prove fatal, too. But in his case, since we know about it ahead of time, we can put off the dreadful day with daily medication to strengthen his heart and thin his blood.

At the time, the vet said 3-5 years with meds and luck and that he would start showing symptoms in about six months. Ing being Ing, that was about a year and a half ago and he’s still being as Horrible as ever. Even more Horrible than ever, actually, because the hobby he took up to relieve any slight sensation of illness and invalid fussiness was the same coping mechanism that cats have used to ease stress for millennia: Mark Your Territory.

Only intermittently, you understand. And mostly window blinds (by way of putting in its place a neighborhood feline thug who comes and leers through the window) and the couch or the loveseat (layers of washable cotton spreads are the solution there). Still, eau de Ing is not our favorite fragrance and we go through a lot of pet-odor remover, Windex, laundry detergent and Claire Burke room spray. The house is extremely clean in spots.

We make every effort to cater to Ing’s least desire in the interests of reducing his stress levels—laps, tidbits, playtime, blankies, whatever he wants—just please don’t go piddle on the furniture.

(You’re nuts, lady. –ed)

Can’t really argue with that. But the moral of this story is this: Now that I’ve been diagnosed with my very own cardiomyopathy and will now get my very own heart pills, I feel that I can confidently rely on having my every wish and whim indulged also, just as Ing does. After all, my dear ones wouldn’t want me to feel neglected and stressed, now would they?

Not if they want a dry place to sit.


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