Posted by Kathy Waller
You may say a cat uses good grammar. Well, a cat does — but you let a cat get excited once; you let a cat get to pulling fur with another cat on a shed, nights, and you’ll hear grammar that will give you the lockjaw. Ignorant people think it’s the noise which fighting cats make that is so aggravating, but it ain’t so; it’s the sickening grammar they use.
~ Mark Twain, A Tramp Abroad
I’m sitting in my recliner, feet up, laptop on lap, Ernest Davis-Waller stretched out on the wide overstuffed armrest to my right. His left foreleg stretches down so his paw rests against me. He’s making biscuits on my leg. Clothing doesn’t protect me: his claws pierce my flesh. I take his leg, move it up to the armrest. He reaches down and resumes making biscuits. I move his leg back up… he reaches down… If only he didn’t look so pleased with himself. But finally I give up. He’s had a difficult day. I guess.
William Davis-Waller is in the hospital. Friday night I noticed he was limping a bit, and I knew what was wrong. Saturday morning, the veterinarian diagnosed diabetes. We fed him special food the rest of the weekend and took him back to the vet early Monday morning to stay until his glucose stabilizes.
William and Ernest came to us from Austin Pets Alive, which rescues cats and dogs from the animal shelter and fosters them until the cats and dogs are ready to rescue people like the Davis-Wallers. They were six months old when we got them, Ernest first, and William a month later. They hit it off immediately and spent the first night practicing for the Daytona 500–from the bed to the floor to the closet to the bed to the floor to the closet, round and round and round, trampling the humans, all night long.
Five days after they met, Ernest developed a tummy complaint and was admitted to the hospital. Within twenty-four hours, William stopped eating and lay limp and unresponsive in my lap. I took him to the hospital, where he was found to be running a high fever. Ernest was better but not ready to be released. I left William and went home.
That afternoon, I called to check on William. He was fine, said the vet. She’d put him in the cage with Ernest, and in a couple of hours his fever was gone and he was all perky and eating like a horse. She wanted to keep both over the weekend.
By Monday, however, things had broken down a bit. Ernest, it seems, had told William in no uncertain terms that the cage wasn’t big enough for both of them. According to the veterinarian’s assistant, he used some pretty sickening grammar.
William was moved, post-haste, to his own accommodations.
But back at home, they teamed up again, brothers in arms. And for the past seven years, except for the night Ernest spent at the emergency veterinary clinic–he ate ribbon again–they haven’t been separated. Until this week.
I dropped in this afternoon to check on William and, just in case, told the vet about his dependence on Ernest. He was doing well, his glucose level was down, and he would be ready to come home in a few more days. And would I like to visit him?
They put us in one of the examination rooms and closed the door. William didn’t say hi, how you, no pleasantries at all. Nothing. Instead, we wrestled. He wanted off the exam table. I sat down and held him on my lap. He wanted back on the exam table. He purred twice, for a total of four seconds, and only trying to get me off guard so I would loose my hold. In short, he wanted outta there.
The worst part was that for the full half-hour we were together, he engaged in projectile shedding. I’m used to that, it’s what cats do at the vet’s, but it’s darned uncomfortable when you’re using both hands to corral the beast and can’t spare one to get the fur off your tongue, where it shouldn’t have migrated to in the first place.
The really worst part, of course, is that he has diabetes. When he came to us, he was all ears, tail and tummy, and he vacuumed up every bite we gave him. He grew into a larger cat than I’d expected him to, based on his small, tapered feet, and the ears, tail, and tummy shrank to proper proportion. But he continued to put on weight. I knew he was becoming a candidate for diabetes. And though I tried to take weight off him, I wasn’t consistent in my efforts. Being a good parent means you sometimes have to do things neither you nor your child, nor your cat, enjoys. If you don’t do those things, you end up feeling guilty and doing things you both like even less. In this case dealing with needles and syringes and blood tests.
On the positive side, the veterinarian told me something I didn’t know–that with proper treatment, diabetic cats sometimes improve and can survive without insulin injections. Like Type II diabetes in humans? I asked. Yes. That makes sense. And now we have something to work toward.
And I can go to bed tonight without worrying that William is running a high fever because he’s lonesome for Ernest.
There was a post on Facebook yesterday that claimed the position you sleep in reveals something about you. If you sleep flat on your back, you’re quiet and reserved and have a high sense of self-worth. If you sleep on your side, you’re calm and laid-back when you’re awake. If you sleep on your back and snore, you’re irritable (reasonable, since you possibly have sleep apnea, but that’s not quite the same as being reserved or laid-back).
I don’t know how I sleep–except that in the morning the sheet and blankets are usually on my side of the bed. I’m afraid to ask what that means.
But for the most part, the position I sleep in depends on two things:
- how cold I am; and
- how many cats occupy the space that rightfully belongs to my legs.
I’ve taken so long moseying through this piece that Ernest has abandoned me for David’s recliner. He may or may not go with me upstairs to bed. Whatever happens, I know that for tonight, at least, one of my legs will be assured a place to stretch out.
But I’ll be glad when William comes home, even if it means I have to sleep sitting up.
*I’m not really a cat lady or even a cat person. I’m a dog, cat, horse, parakeet, cow, and chicken person, and I would like to be a raccoon person but I’m smart enough not to try that. But I can say, with Mark Twain,
When a man loves cats, I am his friend and comrade, without further introduction.
~ “An Incident,” Who Is Mark Twain?
Mark Twain’s thoughts about cats appear at http://www.twainquotes.com