Sorry to disappoint you starry-eyed romantics out there, hoping to find a torrid love story about man vs. woman, man vs. man, or woman vs.woman. (I’m nothing if not inclusive.) This is about woman and man vs. a cat. No torridness, just foolishness.
I love our cat, Maude. My husband loves Maude too. Because he’s not the father of my two daughters, Maude is the closest we come to having a child together. Also, he’s never had children, so this is his chance to show his fatherhood chops.
I understand that most people who have pets love them too (although I could never get emotional about a boa constrictor or a piranha). But most don’t seem to be as obsessive about them as we are about Maude. So many of these pet owners work all day, travel for business or pleasure, or basically go about their lives—the lives they had before the pet entered the picture. The pet is an additional family member, not the focus of the home.
The object of our affection
I’m not referring to the early days of kitten- or puppy-hood. Those periods are necessarily pet-centered and devoted to training, acclimating, and getting to know cute little Morris or Fluffy. Maude is over 12 years old, although we became her family only a year ago.
Maude adapted very quickly to new owners and a new household. The first week she hid in a corner of our closet at night, but soon she found more visible places to nap. And before long, she was sleeping with us, making a queen-size bed feel no wider than an army cot. Did we complain? A little. But as I said, we love her, and we love it when she snuggles up to us, resting a front paw on our arm or rolling over on her back so we can give her a belly rub.
We’re home more often than we’re away, so there’s a lot of snuggling and belly rubbing going on. In short, we’ve spoiled Maude. After she eats her food and drinks from her water bowl (and uses the cat facilities), she can’t understand why I might not want to go back upstairs with her to…snuggle. Giving her a warm look and saying, “You had your dinner; it’s my turn now” doesn’t phase her. She continues her cat-whining—sort of a mournful “Mrrrroww”—or what I call ca-vetching (combining cat with kvetching and pronouncing it the way Gentiles usually pronounce kvetching).
Maude also has asthma, but it seems to have improved in the last year or so. Occasionally, she starts coughing. If it goes on for a while, we give her a nebulizer treatment with Flomax (yes, the same obscenely expensive medication given to people). After every attack, we look at each other and ask, “What if we hadn’t been here?” And that leads me to the title of this post. We love too much. The evidence is irrefutable. We haven’t gone on a trip since October 2012, six months before we got Maude.
There are cat sitters, I know. I’ve looked online and read many profiles. But this is Maude! Maude is used to being the center of attention in our house many different times of the day—and not just one or two 15-minute visits by a kind stranger.
Do I realize this behavior (ours not hers) is not normal? Sure I do. Will I do something about it? I had good intentions of trying, gradually, to be away from her for longer spans of time. Maybe even work up to an overnight trip…or a weekend! Then came the diagnosis.
At Maude’s recent annual checkup, the vet noticed something suspicious in her left ear. “It could be a polyp or a mass, or just a very deep infection,” she said. She suggested we take her to a veterinary specialty center for another opinion and possible surgery if it needs to be removed. So we snatched her up and put her in her carrier and took off for the vet center—a huge, efficiently run operation that offers surgeons, neurologists, nephrologists, dermatologists, oncologists, and probably other “ists” that I didn’t get a chance to read on the sign. After the initial (not free) consultation, Maude is scheduled to go under anesthetic later this week so both the surgeon and the dermatologist can get a better look at what we’re dealing with. I’m already stressing over the fact that we were told not to feed her that morning. How will we explain to her that we’re eating breakfast but she can’t?
And now we’ve added worry to the loving picture, but I know that pet owners experience this anytime their darlings are ill. But the real test of our love for this sweet, beautiful feline is that we didn’t flinch (not more than a nanosecond, that is) when we say the cost estimate. Home equity loan anyone?
So we’re not going anywhere anytime soon. But I promise that if Maude is in good health after this ordeal, we’ll make plans. Watch for updates.