I usually write about writing. But today… today I am writing about NOT writing. And love. And pain.
I’m one of those ‘childless by choice’ people who never really wanted kids. I am, though, at least technically, a ‘cat lady’.
In the spring of 2003 we adopted a pair of siblings, a boy and a girl, they were 9 weeks old and they weighed about a pound apiece. My heart’s-beloved, the little boy of this pair, left us way too young, back in 2012. His sister existed as a single solitary cat in this house for more than a year before I was even remotely ready to look for another cat.
Finding my cat
When I finally was, we went to the shelter and asked what they had. There was a 3-month-old male kitten who qualified and we were introduced to him but there was nothing – no chemistry. He was cute, but it’s a kitten’s business to be cute, there was nothing special there, for the cat or for us. The lady at the shelter took a measuring look at us and said there was a cat she thought we needed to meet.
She came back with Blackjack.
He was ex-feral with a clipped ear that showed that he had once been living on the mean streets. He was half blind, because one eye was beyond all recourse. But this caramel-colored tabby was brought into the room, set down on the floor, took a look at these two humans, and immediately flopped onto his back, offering up his fluffy spotted apricot-colored tummy to be rubbed.
Love and trust was immediate, and bound like steel cables. He came home with us.
Our old lady was a sticking point. Blackjack was very laid back and easygoing; our edging-into-senior-cat resident queen was not at the best of times. It all hinged on her accepting him. She did. They never became best buddies, but they would nap in the sun together. It was very clear who the senior cat was – SHE was – and he was fine with that. Things chugged along nicely for a while.
A little tooth problem
And then – recently – I looked into Blackjack’s face, and it was…misshapen. One of his lower canines was literally sticking out of his mouth, sticking into his cheek. He didn’t act as though it HURT, but he wouldn’t really let me look at it. So I finally took him to the vet.
I left him there on a Friday morning, for a dental intervention.
When I picked him up on Friday evening, I was told that he’d had seven teeth removed. SEVEN. And that three of those were abscessed into the jawbone. The only symptom I had ever really noticed was that misplaced fang and that he had lost a little weight.
The vet told me that ‘little’ loss was actually 20 percent of his body weight. It was clear now that eating had been so painful that he simply wasn’t taking in enough to keep body and soul together. I was wracked with guilt.
Post-anaesthesia he was woozy, disoriented, and smelled sufficiently OTHER for the hitherto accepting queen to start being an entire witch to him. Poor Blackjack just lay there, looking miserable and bewildered; he wouldn’t come to me, and was hyper alert, every tiny noise making him sit up in alarm.
We had a bad night on that Friday; nobody really slept, and I cried myself silly because there seemed to be nothing I could do to help. Saturday was not much better, although he was heard to purr now and then. Sunday… he started being HUNGRY. He kept demanding food – because the reliable bowl of Kibbles had been removed for the duration. I didn’t want his healing mouth wounds ripped open by hard dry food.
So he’s been getting cans, practically on demand. Yes, I know I am setting a bad precedent. But I owe him…
Getting back to normal
We are – very slowly – getting back into a normal rhythm. But here it comes – the point of this long-winded screed – love can sometimes trump everything and every ounce of my attention was riveted on this poor suffering scrap whom I loved so much and whom I was so bitterly helpless to make better.
I can’t settle to doing anything on a focused consistent base because i keep on leaping up to go running up to where he’s holed up in the bedroom, to check in on him – “How are you doing, baby cat? Is there anything you need?”
Writing? Very little writing has been done. it’s hard to concentrate on anything like a storyline when your empathy lines are quivering all the time, connected to something you love that is suffering, demanding that you pay attention, do something, be there.
It is my hope that I”ll grapple with the next story I need to write very soon. In the meantime, forgive me. I need to pour all my energy into loving a small cat who needs me right now.