Illegal Felines and Crimes Against Friendship

Barbara Kingsolver, whose lifestyle incidentally I aspire to, changed her writing following living off the land for a year. According to my mother, she became sanctimonious and dull. So in the interest of avoiding said pitfall, here is an engaging story, which has nothing to do with the environment. Mom I dedicate this post to you.

I have only a sister. But growing up in a church, my family spent every Sunday morning, the occasional Sunday afternoon and every New Year’s Eve with another family, who had two boys the same age as myself and Diana. This was in addition to seeing these boys at every single church event that happened during the week. Effectively rendering Jamie and Jackie the boys in the family, the closest thing I have to brothers.

My mother and the boys’ mother Janie, often talked about how wonderful it would be if either Diana or I married one of Janie’s boys so we’d all be related. This gives you an idea of the closeness of our two families.

Janie and Lane, her husband decided to go away one weekend. My mother quickly offered to care for the boys. At home, Lane was a formidable figure. A cheapskate to the core, he preferred to risk death by pruning the fifty foot tall trees on his property himself rather than paying someone. A strict disciplinarian, things like rabble rousing, takeout pizza and pets were not permitted in his home. Jamie and Jackie knew this and followed the rules to a T.

In comes my mother, who believes that the real world can discipline children with consequences better than any parent and that every child has a right to a pet. This was the woman charged with caring for Lane and Janie’s sons for a weekend.

Friday night went off without a hitch. For the first time in their lives, Jamie and Jackie ate pizza that was delivered to the door. They covered their amazement and awe by devouring every last piece of the cheesy pie. At a reasonable hour, my mother tucked them both into the guest room bed and hugged them good night. So far so good.

It was the Saturday morning when the wheels began to fall off the cart. After a filling breakfast of pancakes topped with anything us children could think of in the kitchen including caramel sauce and maraschino cherries, my mother turned to the group of us and asked what we wanted to do that day. In a sugar induced fog, we all shrugged assuming that the weekend would consist or some combination of tag and playing at the park. “We’re going to buy Jamie and Jackie a cat!” exclaimed my mother.

The boys were dumbfounded. They knew this was not allowed. Scholarly pets like ant farms were forbidden so a cat was definitely against the rules. However the laws of their house dictated that they respect the adult in charge and for that weekend the adult was my mother so away we all went to the pet store.

An hour later Harley the cat rode home on Jamie and Jackie’s laps. The rest of the day was spent playing with the kitten, dressing him up in dolls clothes, cuddling the fur ball and in general enjoying all the perks of pet ownership. At an appropriate time, my mother tucked the boys and Harley into the guest room bed and hugged them goodnight.

The next afternoon, my mother dropped the boys off, Lane met them at the door. Clapping his eyes on the cat he demanded that we “Take it back”. “It’s an animal, not a sweater Lane” my mother replied “and besides it’s your cat.” Lane was unmoved “Take it back” he repeated as my mother brought Harley and all his accoutrements that we had purchased the day before into the house. “He’s so cute!” Janie exclaimed. “Don’t get attached, he’s going back” Lane deadpanned.

And that was how one of my mother’s closest friends got a cat. Appropriately, out of defiance for Lane, Harley is still alive. At 25, he skulks around their house, essentially just a bit of fur stuck on a pile of bones but living nonetheless.

At the age of ten, I knew that my mother hadn’t asked permission from Lane. Or even bothered to question the boys on what type of pet they’d like. But it was only at 32 that I thought to ask the most important question, after reliving the story over the phone one night. “Mom, did Janie even know?”  Still laughing from the memory of her ballsy acquisition she somewhat sheepishly confessed “Nope”.

Readers, I invite you all to suggest ways my mother can atone for her sins. Keeping in mind that she once tried to make my childhood home into a zoo, so taking in animals is NOT a punishment.

And Mom, you know that we will always love you Mrs. Flax.

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Cowboy Cookin’

“We’re going to kill something, skin it and eat it” Tex proclaimed one afternoon midway through his visit to my city, just when I thought that he was adjusting to the civilities of urban life. Thankfully he didn’t mean an elk or deer, the creature Tex was hankering for was lobster.

The first problem with this idea was transportation. In Tex’s world vehicles come with half or one tonne sizes with a gun rack on the back. By contrast these were my wheels at the time.

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It might look more manly if I removed the streamers. (Photo Credit : price.salespider.com)

Happily, although Tex likes his meat red and his boots nicely polished, he isn’t averse to riding a bicycle, so we rode to the grocery store. The next problem was how to get the boxed up lobsters home. Normally I stow delicate items like eggs in my jacket so that my body can absorb the impact of any curbs or bumps. It was decided that there are better ways to lose a nipple than by stowing live crustaceans in your clothing, so Tex set about using our other groceries to pad the saddle bags of my bike to create a nest for our new marine friends.

The last and greatest problem we faced that day was me; specifically my inability to kill and dismember living creatures. An avid meat eater, I had no problem with the theory of the process, but the actual act itself caused me quite a bit of anguish. Once we arrived home, Tex was all set to commit murder. I on the other hand was preoccupied with the lobsters’ mental wellbeing.  I sang to comfort the lobsters and distract them from their impending doom. Every creature loves music right? Meanwhile Tex busied himself with boiling a stock pot full of water. “Do you think their lives were happy?” I asked Tex. Standing over my slow moving salt water friends that I had carefully transported home, I worried aloud “Should we show them pictures of the sea during their last moments, or would that be cruel?” Guilt was slowly building in my gut; I tried to assuage it by brainstorming a last meal for the lobsters. “What is a lobster’s favourite food?” I wondered.

Then came the terrible moment. Tex held the lobsters over the boiling stock pot of water and looked down. “I don’t think it’s hot enough” he lowered the lobsters back into the box and transferred the pot to another, supposedly more effective burner. The lobsters had been spared, and given an extra couple minutes of life, so I sang them a song from the “Rescuers” encouraging the hard shelled creatures to be brave. They lazily waved their claws at me. I don’t know if lobsters understand English.

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Unfortunately Bernard and Bianca did not show up at the last minute to prevent the lobsters’ demise, undoubtedly they were too busy saving orphans to concern themselves with a couple of undersea creatures. (Photo Credit : youtube.com)

The water reached a rolling boil on the larger burner and once again Tex held the lobsters high above the pot. Supposedly the change in pressure when lobsters are immersed in boiling liquid creates a sound like a small scream. Neither Tex nor I heard that noise over my shriek as Tex dropped Fergus and Amalda in. (Following their close call minutes earlier, I named our supper which is according to Tex a rookie cowboy’s mistake; the only names his rancher brother gives his cattle are “Filet Mignon”, “Steak” and “Chuck”.)

Twelve minutes later the lobsters were declared done and Tex offered the tongs to me. “Want to fish yours out?” he asked. I didn’t. I wanted nothing of the sort but I took the tongs anyway and haphazardly grabbed a lobster (Possibly Amalda?) out of the pot and dropped it on the plate. The lobster was sopping and water sloshed over the plate. Then Tex confidently turned his lobster in the pot so it was easy to grasp, raised it out of the water and held it still for a couple of seconds to allow the shell to drain before lowering it onto his dry plate.

I brought my full plate with lobster water to the table, too distressed to tip the excess liquid back into the pot. “Turn your lobster like this” Tex instructed, “It makes it easier to break off its arms”. My hand went to touch the poor dead lobster, then pulled back at the last second. “Touch it” I ordered my hand. My fingers hovered around the lobster almost touching it, then pulling back. “Just pick it up” Tex encouraged. “I can do this” I thought as my hand hovered around the dead sea creature. I’m not sure what terrified me more, the idea that the lobster would move when I touched it, or the fact that it wouldn’t. Finally after more coaching, I picked up my lobster. That’s when the low grade distress noises started, my terror and guilt combining in a small, high pitched hum.

Undeterred by my hesitation, Tex continued to coach me in the art of lobster slaughter. “Now you grip it like this, and break its arm. Don’t hold onto the pointy part of the claw.” That last part seemed obvious but in my upset state I had grabbed the claw tightly in the wrong spot, it was only then that I felt the pain in my hand as the points of the claw dug into my skin. “Crack!” Tex’s lobster was now down an arm. My stomach lurched, it sounded just like the rat dissection in grade twelve, when my partner had to break the rat’s arm in order to pin it down. In that biology lab, not only had I refused to break the arms but I avoided pinning the rodent to the cutting board as well.

In the present, I held a dead crustacean and gave it the same horrified and disgusted look I had given the formaldehyde preserved rat.  “Your turn” Tex gestured to my lobster. Desperate to delay the inevitable I sweetly asked if I could watch him do it again. “Crack!” off went the other arm of Tex’s lobster. “Now yours”, Tex urged.

I took a deep breath and recalled my university Animal Physiology lab, when I’d been paired with a beautiful but flaky sorority girl. She was a partier and a consistent C student whereas I stayed home most nights and excelled at the course. At first glance it seemed like an unfortunate pairing however after I passed out during the teaching assistant’s demonstration of how to behead, then filet a fish, the sorority girl beheaded and prepared our fish for the experiment while I inhaled through my nose on the floor and focused on not puking all over the other teaching assistant that was patiently rubbing my back. “No more blood!” The cheerful sorority blonde proclaimed when I returned to our lab station still woozy and soaked in my own sweat.

Closing my eyes I bent the lobster’s arm back. “Crack!” My stomach heaved, and my guilt over having broken the poor creature’s claw was thick at the back of my throat. It didn’t matter that it was dead; in my mind the lobster needed that claw. “Now the other one”, Tex instructed. As I gripped the remaining claw, a wobbly “Uhhhhh” was added to my high pitched hum. It grew in volume as the claw moved to break, so loud that the “crack” was almost soft underneath my keening.

Just as in both the biology and animal physiology labs, my dread over dismantling a living creature had me bathing in my own sweat. But unlike both of these situations there was no one else to dismember the lobster for me. Regrettably, the worst was yet to come. “Now you rip the lobster body in half” with a great “POP” Tex’s lobster was in two and my stomach flipped over.  My arms shook and tears gathered at the corners of my eyes as I tore Amalda in two. At my feet, Whiskey, my room-mate at the time’s cat mewled pathetically for a taste.

Tex’s enthusiasm was palpable now as he prepared to taste his meal. Using my can opener, (surprisingly I lacked the tool to crack the hard shells of crustaceans) he broke the hard red chitin of the claw into pieces and fished out the meat inside. Then handed me the can opener so I could so the same.

Next to literally tearing a creature in half, this step seemed humane. But then as the meat dangled limply from my fingers I realized that guilt had stolen my appetite. By contrast, Whiskey the cat was in a frenzy at my feet. So I passed the meaty claw to him. He devoured it with what can only be described as feline ecstasy.

From there, the gradual consumption of our meal continued, Whiskey was fed more surf than I think any cat aside from those in cultures which worship felines have eaten. While cleaning up Tex grabbed me about the shoulders and kissed the top of my head “You did great Unwashed” he said. Clearly he was more engrossed in his dinner than in my reaction, either that or “great” in cowboy terms means wimpy and on the verge of fainting.

The Time My Mother Tried To Start a Zoo

It began very innocently, in the way that these things do; my family had two children, a cat and a dog. A reasonable collection of small beings. But then a Petsmart opened in our city, and suddenly exotic animals that my sister and I had never heard of before, let alone seen, were on display.

This was how my family ended up with a skink. For those of you who have no idea what a skink is, you’re not missing out on much. It’s a lizard, it moves little and doesn’t cuddle at all.

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You know the saying “More fun than a barrel of monkeys”? picture the opposite of that and you have this pet. Also my sister’s skink was not this fat. It was hypothesized that the lizard was terminally depressed and consequently wouldn’t eat much, but we had no way of knowing this because again, it was a skink. (Photo Credit: en.wikipedia.org)

However it was my sister’s pet and she enjoyed it. My mother spent my childhood encouraging my sister and I to hold scaly creatures whenever an opportunity presented itself, so she was quite pleased with the new acquisition. My father, by contrast, was indifferent to the skink but he recognized that it made my sister happy, so he tolerated the reptile.

Lizards, like all creatures, must be fed regularly. Tragically they don’t eat normal things from the corner store, like kibble. Happily, this reptile ate crickets. I’m not sure how I would have felt about a pet that ate baby mice. I would have worried about it escaping and mistaking my ear for a tiny rodent in the middle of the night.

Anyway the next week, back to Petsmart we went in search of crickets to feed the skink. This was where I saw a kitten. A lovely black kitten that purred and just wanted to be cuddled. My sister and I begged, pleaded and convinced my mom that it was only fair that I get a pet given that my sister had gotten a scale-covered, cricket munching paperweight.

“A kitten is different from a lizard” my mother argued, she turned to my sister “Are you sure you won’t be jealous?”

“No. No!” we cried, “It’s perfectly fair!”

That night, for the first and only time in our lives, we met our father at the door when he arrived home from work. “How was your day?” my sister and I asked sweetly. “What did you do?” my Dad immediately sensed something was up. Then Splat our new kitten slunk around the corner. “You got a cat” he said flatly.

All in all, my Dad took the new addition well, probably because he didn’t realize this cat’s penis was going to cost him two grand a decade later. (In case you missed it, I wrote about saving a cat’s genitals in “The 2,000 Dollar Cat Penis” it remains the most heroic act of my life and probably would have been the most questionable expense on my Dad’s credit card if vets itemized their procedures, rather than lumping them under the company name.)

The next night, as predicted, my sister was in tears, “Unwashed got a kitten and all I got was a skink” she cried. Back to Petsmart we went where we picked up the kitten’s brother who was still up for adoption. Ever the peace keeper and having never been a lizard lover, my father understood this decision and took it in stride.

But the skink lived on, and thus the next week, back to Petsmart, my mother, sister and I went, in search of more crickets for the once beloved but now essentially ignored reptile. Because Petsmart with all of it’s animals and new products was less of an errand and more of an outing, once again the three of us stopped by the adoption centre where they had cats and dogs. Before approaching the aisle, my mother turned to us “Just so you know, we’re not getting another cat this time.”

That was when my mother saw him. It was less of a dog and  more of a horse, a fully grown St Bernard lying on it’s side placidly while a toddler crawled all over it, sticking his baby fingers into the dog’s eyes and nose. The well trained dog didn’t move, it didn’t even growl, it only looked up at us helplessly as if to ask “Please do something but I understand if you are too busy”.

“I want that dog” my mother said, which wasn’t surprising, as a teenager she had loved and ridden horses and it was easy to confuse the two species given the canine’s size.

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Add some long fur and a squirming toddler and you have that docile St Bernard. (Photo Credit: en.wikipedia.org)

“That is the most perfect, well behaved dog I’ve ever seen” she said, still staring at the toddler’s two hundred and fifty pound fur playground. We continued on down the aisle to procure crickets for my sister’s dull, sun lamp loving pet and while we walked, my mother reasoned aloud why she should or shouldn’t buy the dog. None of her reasons included the pools of drool the breed produces or the sheer quantity of food it would need, or the exercise it would require, it all boiled down to the number of animals and small creatures we already had in the house. By the time we walked towards the cash register, my mother had talked herself out of it.

But the dog had moved from the adoption center, clearly the store was trying the hard sell, impulse buy technique, by placing him right next to the exit. “Buy a small cat toy and a St Bernard on your way out” the product placement silently screamed at us.

“I need that dog” my mother was back to the edge of indecision, my sister and I realized that we were one encouraging statement away from sharing the back seat of the minivan with a furry horse.

My mother gazed at the animal longingly with warmth “I would be in so much trouble”.

As much as I wanted to ride the well behaved canine to school, and snuggle next to the furry giant at night, I could picture my Dad’s reaction and the new rule that only he could buy crickets. “I don’t think Dad would be happy” I said.

As it was, describing my family’s pet situation was a bit of a joke for a long time: “We have three cats, a dog and a skink.” After one of the cats and our beloved golden retreiver died, (The skink supposedly died too but it was difficult to tell, as it never moved much in the first place) my friend admitted to me that my family’s house always smelled vaugely like a zoo. I can only imagine how a over-sized St Bernard would have added to that. That being said, whenever the story is told, my mother sighs dramatically and remarks about her regret of not coming home with the St Bernard.

Happy Birthday Mom, I hope you get something as wonderful and lovable as the St Bernard that got away.

 

The 2,000 Dollar Cat Penis

People talk heroically about saving lives. I’ve done no such thing; however I did once save a cat’s genitals, much to my father’s chagrin. That last sentence sounds like a cross between absurd and perverted so I’m going to elaborate.

Once upon a time, when I wore the same shirt every single day for a month and never washed it, my mother underwent chemotherapy. It was a difficult time for her and the only creature that consistently brought her joy and comfort (because I merely brought dirt and increasingly large amount of grime) was her cat Splat*.

In between treatments my parents decided to take a mini-vacation. I was living at home at the time so I was charged with taking care of their home and pets. Before he left my father handed me a credit card instructing me to use it in the event of an emergency.

Splat had been slightly ill before my parents’ mini-vacation but watching my parents’ car disappear into the distance pushed him to the brink of death. Responsible daughter that I was, I rushed Splat straight to the veterinarian.

Splat was dehydrated and very sick. The prognosis was grim, there were crystals in his penis and the only way to save him was to cut off his penis, or carry out expensive operation to remove the crystals. Apparently this is a common problem with cat penises. (Or is the plural peni? I don’t really concern myself with the grammatical intricacies of cat genitals.) To top it off, afterwards Splat would eat an exorbitantly expensive food in order to prevent a reoccurrence.

“Well” the vet asked, looking to me to make a decision, “what will it be?”

“How much is the operation to remove the crystals?” I responded tentatively.

“Two thousand dollars” said the vet grimly.

Not possessing a penis, I wasn’t sure of the value of one. In my experience all of the men I met seemed to value theirs greatly. In fact I remembered reading about a man who had fallen asleep on railroad tracks and awoken a triple amputee. Upon learning the extent of his tragedy, the man’s first concern was whether he had lost his member; he was elated that he hadn’t. But on the other hand, Splat had been neutered a decade back, so as long as he was still able to urinate, it seemed that his penis was mostly decorative rather than functional. A bit like a pompom on top of a winter toque. In light of that, it seemed like the obvious decision was to get rid of the penis entirely. Then I thought of my mother’s dismay when she arrived home to discover that her cat was missing a part. I was charged with taking care of the house and the pets, and ideally my parents wanted both to remain as they had left them.

Uncertain as to whether this constituted an emergency but sure that it would end with my mother arriving home to a whole, happy cat, I handed over my father’s credit card.

Two days later, I drove a still woozy but rehydrated Splat home from the vet. My mother hugged him close “My poor Splat, you almost lost your penis” while my Dad gazed in horror at the bill.

It wasn’t rushing a child from a burning building or pushing someone out of the way of a speeding car, but until his dying day, every time Splat groomed his junk, I thought about my decision and was proud.

You can't see his junk, but let me assure you, it was both expensive and beloved. Much like Waterford crystal but with more pee. (Photo Credit : My Dad)

You can’t see his junk, but let me assure you, it was both expensive and beloved. Much like Waterford crystal but with more pee. (Photo Credit : My Dad)

*Names have not been changed because Splat was an animal not a human, also what with possessing the most expensive feline penis on the planet, I feel the world should know his name.

The Infamous “Furry” Post

A couple of days ago I joked on Facebook that one of my love letter posts was going to be about furries. Though my next Valentine is for someone with fur, it thankfully is not about people dressing up as hedgehogs and bumping uglies because that would get me into a lot of trouble with my Aunty Camelia* “Hey! Do you mind? This is a family blog.”

Dear Whiskey,**

You are the nicest, best cat that I’ve ever met in the whole wide world. I think this might be because you are not actually a cat. Your adorable, stubby tail gives you a bear-like appearance so you might be a Bearcat, in which case, I have amazing news- there’s a song written about you. However your habit of meeting me at the door when I arrive home leads me to believe that you might actually be a dog. Whiskey, your assumption that everyone wants to pet you further supports this theory. It’s as though every hour I spend at home is snuggle o’clock. What’s even better is that when I’ve had a rough day, you seem to sense this and up the cuddle ante by trying to share tiny chairs with me. We’re both going to pretend you don’t do this solely to eat my dinner. Again, you might be a dog.

I must confess though, your insistent need to clean me, makes me think you are in fact a cat. Or at the very least have OCD. I’ve never known another animal to painstakingly scrub my hands and sometimes my face with their tongue. This is partially why I won’t allow you to sleep in my room- I fear waking up, to you restyling my hair after your kitty senses conclude that it is too dirty.

Whiskey, my lovable friend, even your bad habits are endearing; the way you wash your dirty paws in the toilet after hunting mice in the dirt floored basement? So cute. Almost as cute as the muddy footprints you leave all over the bathtub afterwards. We won’t even touch on how amusing it is that you also bathe your filthy paws in people’s drinking glasses. A fact I learned only after living with you for two months. Whiskey, I also believe that “a peck of dirt never hurt”, that being said, I didn’t actually intend to consume a whole peck, you’ve helped me with that significantly. Regardless of how much soil you have me unintentionally imbibing, I love you Whiskey and to show this I shall do something special.

Seeing as you’ve eaten all the mice that once called this heritage house home, (And worked off the accompanying weight gain that eating an entire colony of rodents causes. Good job by the way.) for Valentine’s Day, I shall invite the furry pets from the neighbouring houses to come party here. You’re welcome.

The Great Unwashed

This post is dedicated to my roommate, owner and fellow lover of Whiskey. But only because Whiskey can’t read.

*Names have been changed to protect the identities of family members who are regular readers, the rest of you – take heed; I could spill the beans on that awkward family picnic and publish your real name if you don’t start reading my blog yesterday. Actually last month- look in the archives.

**Names have been changed because Whiskey is so lovely and unique that he’s almost a person and I change people’s names on this blog.

Letters From Exile: Biting Screeching Jet Lag

I’m writing this from exile. Roscoe told me not to come home until I am nice. Yesterday I traveled for sixteen hours. Ten of those hours were spent on a plane. My family’s nickname for me is “Bitey Scratchy” because I’ve been known to behave like a feral cat when I’m jet lagged.

To those of you who have never had the joy of taking in a wild animal, feral cats are nice sometimes, specifically when you are giving them things that they want like food, the rest of the time their hobbies consist of leaving puncture wounds in exposed skin and hissing.

Once when my father was away on a business trip I brought a feral cat into my parent’s house. It seemed like an excellent idea at the time. The cat was crotchety and disagreeable, I was crotchety and disagreeable. We were terrific roommates. And then my parents returned. And I left. The feral cat didn’t.

For the most part Oliver* is a good cat now. She only bites when she’s annoyed which is often but she lets out a low warning growl beforehand. And really she doesn’t bite very hard. Not that it matters, after the first couple of times the whole family got rabies shots.

Anyway, following spending an entire day in transit I behave like Oliver. To add insult to teeth imprinted injury, jet lag also seems to affect my thought patterns. I’ve spent the past two days wandering about pretending to be Andre Leon Talley**.

This is unnerving for two reasons. The first is that no matter how convincingly I stagger around screeching “There’s a FAMINE of beauty. A famine!” or talk about wearing my hand made underpants in Karl Lagerfeld’s vacation house, in no way do I resemble the 6’7 two hundred and fifty pound fashionista.

Andre Leon Talley

Try as I might no one has ever mistaken me for this man.  (Photo credit: Museum at FIT)

The second is that my parents have never heard of Andre Leon Talley so they become just a little more concerned with each successive impression. I overheard them talking about Bellevue in the living room and I don’t think they were discussing Diana’s old apartment in Kensington Village. Roscoe who has seen this behaviour in action told me that I’m to stay with my parents until I am normal(ish) again.

So effectively I’ve been exiled. It sounds worse than it really is ; they feed me well here although I do find my parent’s habit of wearing dog catcher’s body padding unnerving.

*Oliver is a girl cat. We like to do that here, give our girl pets boy’s names. There’s just not enough confusion in this world and one should always keep one’s vet on their toes. It’s not enough to simply throw your newly acquired feral cat into the room with an animal care professional and close the door, it’s really best to complicate things by saying “Oh our cat George had kittens last week.”

** Andre Leon Talley is one of the contributing editors to Vogue magazine. I adore watching and listening to him, the only thing larger than his body is his personality. He once filled an entire ballroom with one joke. When I grow up I am going to be Mr. Leon Talley. Or maybe not, because that might make Roscoe Anna Wintour, or would it make him Grace Coddington? Regardless, I don’t think Roscoe would like either of those options.

My 60,000 Dollar Cat Scratch

By my estimation, Roscoe and I have invested some sixty Gs in his medical education, most of the time I don’t see the benefit to this expenditure. As a med student he works long hours at the hospital for no pay, brings in loads of debt and when he has practical exams, insists on testing the range of motion in my knees. Not terribly exciting.

Around the beginning of his second year of med school Roscoe developed his “Doctor Voice”. It’s a very confident but stern sounding voice. Entirely different from his husband voice which is the one that tells me I look pretty and asks whether it’s past my bedtime.

See if you didn’t know the two of us, that last sentence would sound like a come on “That’s what SHE said”. I badly misused that saying, teenage boys everywhere are hanging their heads in shame at me.

Roscoe sometimes attempts to use his doctor voice at home, generally when he wants to prove that he’s right about something. “Put that away!” I’ll yell when I hear those soft but reassuring tones.

So a month or so ago I was running my first road race in three years, my first ten kilometer race in goodness knows how long. The event was in Toronto, so Roscoe and I were staying overnight at my parent’s house rather than driving the two plus hours from our home to the start.

Everything was going smoothly. Well for me at least. Some kids grew up with mothers who cut the crusts off their sandwiches, moms who dropped them off at university and then returned many, many times for visits, mums who really cared about important things like jewelry, and whether your purse matched your shoes.

My mother is a sports mom. She leaves crusts on sandwiches, she visited me once at university after dropping me off and I’ve frequently left the house wearing both stripes and floral print at the same time.

However come race day, get out of her way, she’s a tiger mom, up at five am with coffee and strategies for how to cut your time. She stashes extra safety pins for your bib in her coat and has water and chocolate milk sitting in the car to rehydrate. You’ll recognize her at the finish line because she’ll be the one jumping so high that she might as well be attached to a pogo stick.

So despite the fact that I didn’t train, had no idea where the race was, and had not packed the appropriate gear, I wasn’t terribly worried about the ten kilometer race I had to run the next day.

That was until I was mauled by a Bear.

I have a theory that my parent's cat is related to the Terminator, or some other alien robot being. It would explain her eyes when photographed.

I have a theory that my parent’s cat is related to the Terminator, or some other alien robot being. It would explain her eyes when photographed.

Bear is the newest addition to my parent’s house. She is the only cat they’ve ever had who has not lived with me. The cats that I grew up with understood that I moved like a Sherman tank, crushing everything in my path. They stayed out of my way, and I lived up to my end of the bargain by not being too upset when they loved my mother more than me.

Bear has never lived with me. Bear also moves like a Sherman tank. One with claws.

Which is how the night before my race I got these.

My photoshop instructions to Candy- "Make my foot look more like Charlize Theron's." Candy's reply "I don't know what to do with these instructions?"

My photoshop instructions to Candy- “Make my foot look more like Charlize Theron’s.” Candy’s reply “I don’t know what to do with this request?”

 

Essentially Bear and I played a very dangerous, painful and ultimately bloody, game of chicken.

Bear was racing up the stairs, across the landing and heading for my bedroom at top speed. Watching her shoot straight at me like some sort of ginger cheetah, I stood my ground. And Bear also stood her ground. Until at the last second we both moved the same direction. Which caused Bear to run half into the door frame, as she attempted to stop herself with her claws on my foot. I felt pain, heard a loud thud and watched a starry eyed Bear wobbly make her way under my bed.

“Bear!” I cried, “Bear! Come here, I’m sorry.” I pleaded bending down to lift up the bed skirt, the extent of my wounds disguised by my body’s beautiful shock reflex. Still woozy but expecting me to somehow cause her to run into more door frames Bear darted past me. And that’s when I looked down and realized blood was pooling on my foot.

Roscoe took one look at it and thought “Infection and cat scratch fever”. Immediately he put his doctor voice into action. Overwhelmed by my feelings of guilt and the blood about to stain my parent’s beige carpet, I blindly followed my husband into the kitchen. There he cleaned the lacerations and then set about neatly taping a napkin to my foot. Power gels are on my mother’s grocery list, not gauze. The gory blood now covered up and the new carpet no longer in danger I returned to my senses. “That doesn’t look dramatic enough! You need to wrap it!”

Roscoe stopped ripping the masking tape into neat sections and instead began haphazardly wrapping my foot with tape. “There” he said “happy now?”

“No, take a photo of it.”

The Great Unwashed way to dress a wound. Note how it makes use of none of Roscoe's doctor abilities.

The Great Unwashed way to dress a wound. Note how it makes use of none of Roscoe’s doctor abilities. My first opportunity to use Roscoe’s expensive degree and I didn’t take it.

For the record I ran a fifty-four minute ten km, for my American readers out there I ran a fifty four minute six mile race. Pretty good considering the perfectly straight blood stains I found in my sock afterwards.

I Really Need A New Hobby Aside From Cleaning Dead Animals On A Saturday Night

So I spent all of last Saturday night washing my childhood pet. This doesn’t sound like a lot of work but the pet in question was a cat who never really caught onto the whole “I am a cat and therefore have amazing balance skills and clean myself regularly” concept. In fact this cat was known for the number of things it could fall off of. Its lack of hygiene was never really a problem until my parent’s elderly cat died and Splat was left to fend for and clean himself.

Splat, judging by the unhappy look on his face, he fell off of something just before this photo was taken and is annoyed that there may be photographic evidence.

Splat, judging by the unhappy look on his face, he fell off of something just before this photo was taken and is annoyed that there may be photographic evidence.**

On top of having a fairly significant problem with dandruff Splat* also had a habit of finding giant dirt piles and rolling in them. He would then rub himself against the person nearest to him, effectively creating a cat-dirt version of a brass rubbing. You know where you lay paper against something really old and then take a metallic crayon to it? The result was like that only with more feline dander and small beetles. It was quite possibly the grossest thing next to discovering cat barf in your shoes after you’ve put them on. Eventually my parents were so disgusted with the state of Splat’s fur that they shipped him off to the groomers. To my knowledge Splat is the only cat to have ever endured a professional cleaning.

Anyway so last Saturday night I shampooed, then rinsed Splat’s coat, then shampooed again because of all the dander and grease.  It took a while; Splat was quite resistant to both the water and the soap. Of course he was also rather dirty.

The sense of exhaustion when I opened my eyes on Sunday morning was overwhelming but my first thought was “Well at least the cat is clean.” But that’s when I realized that the cat I had spent all night lathering, rinsing and repeating had been dead for a year. And I was annoyed. Not only because I was so tired from washing a dead cat all night but I didn’t even get to enjoy the fruits of my labour. Cursing both my poor sleep and my subconscious, who was responsible for the weird dream, I got up.

Fast forward a couple of hours, I’ve completed an exhausting ten km race in fifty minutes and am now sitting in my aunt’s kitchen at a family get together. If pressed I would say that hands down bathing the dead cat was more tiring than the race.

My Dad is standing at the counter loading up on potato salad. From across the room I loudly say “Dad, you didn’t notice all the work I did last night.”

Fair on the Yare - in the Stocks - geograph.or...

This girl neglected to say thank you for her delicious lunch of a ham sandwich with the crusts cut off.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My Dad stops mid scoop, having lived in a house full of three women for twenty some odd years he knows that forgetting to notice and thank someone for housework is right up there with high treason. Very slowly he turns to face me, fully expecting to be chastised for not appreciating the clean kitchen/ laundry/ basement, in front of our whole family to boot.

“I was up all night cleaning our dead cat. I shampooed his coat.”

My Dad started to laugh and went back to scooping salad onto his plate. I know one thing’s for sure, that is the last time I stay up all night shampooing beloved, deceased pets. Neither of my parents bothered to thank me for my efforts.

*Names have not been changed because the late cat in question always liked my mother better than me to begin with.

** Special thanks to my Dad who looked through all our family photos to find one of Splat and then sent it to me, on very short notice, because that’s who I am.

Travesty Tuesdays- Crazy Feline Felonies

 

Dear Readers,

The next three posts will be about cats. Please note this is not a blog about cats, mostly because I don’t have any. It would violate the agreement that we have with our landlord, where we commit highway robbery each time we pay rent and they ask us not to have pets.

This group of three West Indian manatees (Tric...

Endangered species or slowest assassins of the sea? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Also cats are not my favourite animal. If pressed I would say my favourite animal is the manatee. But that’s only if I’m not in the water with manatees. If I was I’d be shouting “Why in goodness name do you want to know my favourite animal? Can’t you see these manatees are going to kill me by swimming over me and not realizing I’m trapped underneath them?” It’s one of my greatest nightmares- death by an inert group of manatees.

That being said, for someone who is not an avid lover of cats I’ve spent approximately eighty percent of my life living with them and ten percent of my life cleaning their litter boxes. The disproportionate amount of litter box cleaning that I’ve done may explain my lack of unabashed love for the creatures.

My sister and mom on the other hand spend their life amassing cats and loving cats. They also enjoy taking photos of them and looking at photos of cats. It is my understanding that this is standard for all cat lovers.

Without further adieu, my most recent communication to my dear sister.

 

Diana,

I thought I should contact you first before the organization does.

Your Crazy Cat Lady membership is being revoked. I wrote a post about our recently deceased cat. Needing a photo to go along with the post I turned to your Facebook page. Not only did I fail to find a photo of said cat, but my search failed to turn up any cat pictures at all on your Facebook profile.

As you are supposedly “the cat lover” in the family I found this oddly suspicious. Further inquiry turned up a photo of a daschund that was once tagged “Diana’s best friend”. More searching turned up a comment you made of “OMG cutest thing alive” in response to a photo of a Golden Doodle puppy.

By this point I was quite alarmed and questioning who my sister really was, it was in that state that I telephoned the Crazy Cat Ladies organization.

They’ll be by at some point this week to confiscate both your cat tree and your floppy crocheted hat.

I think it goes without saying that you’re not to buy cat nip or any other feline related paraphernalia for a year.

Much love, I’m sorry I had to turn you in.

The Great Unwashed