24 November, 2008

Aging cats, dying cats, sick cats


They're everywhere. On the street. In the pound. In the front window of the local bookstore. On the beaches of Hawaii. And, of course, in the homes of so many people around the world. One might be tempted to say that the same is true of dogs, but it really isn't. At least in many Western countries, dogs cannot just be outside wandering around. And one big difference between dogs and cats is that people will very often own a cat or cats, and sort of just have them around, largely ignored, other than occasionally tossing down food, water, and possibly a change of litter. Dogs, you can't get away with that. If you neglect a dog, you will have a very unpleasant situation on your hands quite quickly. I am not sure if this means that a cat's social status is lower than that of a dog, or if it simply means that cats are far more self-sufficient.

At the moment, I am taking care of a cat that was once mine. But now he's somebody else's. That's not that I gave him up for adoption. Let's say that he was the victim of a feline parental separation. He's very old, and requires special and bizarre care. His meals consist of fresh chicken breast mixed with wet food, and he receives a miniscule amount of insulin twice a day. And he lives on. And on. And on. None the worse for the wear, actually. I've seen cats who were 20 years old, and were blind, and pissing themselves, and unable to eat unless fed by a baby bottle. But this one is different. He will still play chase, with the proper stimulus. And though it is clear that he's got arthritis, he'll still run up and down the stairs to be in the same place as the humans are.

I have selected a cat four times in my life. Twice with Luisa. Once with Sarah. And once with Edna. And on each of those occasions, the cats ended up staying with someone else. Eventually, I did not keep them. Luisa gave hers away to some sort of farm, and who knows what happened to them after that. Sarah presumably kept hers (it was actually her cat, but I was present for the selection process). And the one that I chose when living with Edna ended up being the pet of an old Russian woman. I like to spread them around, you see.

Not sure what it says about me, that I keep divorcing my pets. Maybe it's a metaphor for my relationships with humans?

When I think about the commitment of cat ownership now, it seems so overwhelming to me. The same cat. For 20 years. And they might be difficult personalities, through no fault of my own. They might be sickly. They might destroy things in my home. They might puke all the time. They might pee on things. They might require constant medical care. I might get bored with them, and wish I had another cat. Or a kitten. They will eventually get old, and not be that much fun anymore. And I'll still need to feed them, and clean up after them. They will eventually become a massive burden, preventing me from planning vacations without making special arrangements for them. And I'll have to worry whether I can trust the people caring for them. And I will have to worry if the people caring for them are going to accidentally leave my house unlocked. Or burn my house down. Or let the cat outside by mistake. If I decide to go out for the evening, I will need to worry if the cat is going to be hungry. And then, eventually, they will be so weak and sick, that I will need to decide if they live or die. It sounds like a lot of responsibility, for a 9 pound creature that occasionally sits on your lap, and once in a great while chases the laser pointer around the room.

This is definitely seeming a bit like a metaphor.

1 comment:

  1. If you are not caring for ozone well, I will tear off your head, cu it into small pieces and mix it with cat food.