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Dad in the Box

Cat Comeuppance

John Christmann

Thursday, May 15, 2014 • 4:30pm

There are lots of things I don’t understand.  But I am particularly puzzled by the popularity of YouTube cat videos.

Maybe I am biased, but watching someone else’s pet fall into a toilet trying to get a drink of water is not nearly as funny as watching our own cat fall into the toilet.

Those who have personally witnessed a wet cat know what I am talking about.

We got a new kitten a while ago.   When he first arrived he was a tiny ball of fur that got into everything.  Now, six months later, he is a big ball of fur that gets into everything.

Once he jumped surreptitiously into the dryer and nestled atop a set of towels.   I didn’t know he was in there until I shut the door and . . . 

I know what you are thinking.  You are appalled that I let a cat flop through a dry cycle, even if it was a short spin and the cycle was set to Delicate.

Actually, the door I shut was to the laundry room and hours later, when the cat was hungry, it sat mewing behind the closed door to get out.  I knew it was in the dryer because the clean towels were all covered with cat hair.  That part wasn’t so funny.

Bit the image of a damp cat going for a spin in a tumble dryer made me laugh out loud.    

Once we owned a cat that leapt onto a table and whipped its large furry tail casually across a nearby candlestick as it sauntered by.

The candle was lit.  He singed his tail, bolted from the table, knocked the candle over, and started a paper napkin on fire.

That was pretty funny too.  Once we put the fire out.

I do not really consider myself a cat person, but for some reason we have owned several cats over the years.  In our home, cats make good pets.   They don’t have to be house trained or walked every day.   And unwanted guests with allergies don’t stay that long.

Now that my kids are older, I have observed that cats are a lot like teenagers.  They don’t listen, they love you on their own terms, they sleep all day, and they only interact when they want to be fed.  

The only difference is that cats don’t ask for money.

That’s another reason why they make good pets.

But one of the problems with cats is that eventually their nine lives run out.  This is a hard situation, particularly for children who have become attached to their feline housemates.  It is often their first experience with death and loss.

It is sad for adults too.

Before we got our kitten, we had to put our large cat with the singed tail to sleep.  He had developed tumors in his nasal cavity and had difficulty breathing.  For years he snored.  We could hear him all over the house. 

But his breathing got progressively worse as the tumors grew and spread.   He developed trouble walking.  Soon he started having seizures.

We visited a specialized vet who carefully presented us with our options.  None were good.   Our cat’s road to wellness was potholed with severe medical risks and very expensive procedures.  But the vet assured us our cat was not in pain.

On the walls of his examination room were pinned photos of dogs and cats and letters written by families grateful for his medical expertise and intervention. 

After speaking with the vet it was clear that a letter and photo from our family would probably not grace this particular room.  But I respected him for his compassion in the face of our cat’s final attempt at cheating the inevitable.

For a while longer we kept our big cat home and enjoyed its company.  But the seizures started to come more frequently.  And ultimately we were left with making a final appointment with the vet.   

The kids bid a knowing, tearful good bye.

On a cold, flat exam table our cat stretched out on a clean towel and yawned.  He was awake, but breathing noisily.  I scratched his big furry neck and he started to purr.

Next to the towel in wait were two syringes.

I have been through this before with house pets.  Several times.  I allow myself a short period of time to let emotion rule perspective.  But ultimately I remind myself it is the natural cycle of life.  It is, after all, a cat.   And I move on.

Our new kitten is now a big cat that acts like a kitten.  He sleeps on my shirts and walks over the keyboard when I am tryyyyyyy33syyyying to type.  He chases his tail and shreds tissue paper.  He eats ribbon and throws up later.  He lays in wait atop high shelves and swats me as I walk by. 

He scratches the furniture. 

He is probably worthy of a YouTube video, but there really is no reason to share his silly antics with anyone.

He is our cat, even if he is just a cat.  And that really is what makes him so entertaining.

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