Cats . . . and my impending surgery

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Crackles, who has a 30 decibel purr punctuated with an occasional smoker’s cough

A month has passed since my last blog entry. In the interim, I’ve followed advice I resented during my years of endless clinical depression, “Work as hard as you can, pray as hard as you can, and leave the rest up to God.”

Despite that my natural OCD lends itself to chronic prayer rather than cleanliness, I have found great solace in irreverent humor. I loved hearing my mother comment that the world’s fattest tiger must have achieved his impressive girth through a diet of people. Lately my daughter and I have worried about some spectacularly overweight duo of cats at the animal shelter where we volunteer:

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No matter how many times I’ve photographed this pair, the lens slims them down. Why can’t this happen with people?

My daughter and I mused at length over the chunkiness of this pair. While I fully understand how humans become so round through personal experience, my comprehension of their dimensions invited a bit of genetic myth making. My cats, may they rest in peace, didn’t become too overweight because they seemed to have a mild natural bulimia. In contrast, this pair at the shelter appeared to have the opposite gift of the capacity to survive a famine.

Soon after we watched the glorious Simpson’s episode entitled “King Size Homer” wherein Homer discovers that he can work from home due to disability if he weighs no less than 300 pounds, the chunky duo were adopted together by a family with a baby and a toddler. I wish this family luck in caring for these spectacular cats, given that their pets may weigh more than their children.

My daughter and I miss this pair. While we knew that it was in the best interest of these cats to find a home where they could be comfortable and fed a controlled diet, we wished that we could have visited them for the rest of their lives.

I highly recommend volunteering to help shelter animals, but I will forewarn anyone who hasn’t done so already that you will likely become attached to these critters. We loved an overgrown quasi-Maine Coon type cat gray cat named Ethan most of all. I sensed that we had helped this shy cat warm up to people enough that his adoption was imminent:

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My daughter with the glorious Ethan

Although I had told myself that the time was not right for us to get a pet, my affinity for Ethan led me to ask my husband if he’d agree to adding a cat to our home. The following is something I probably shouldn’t discuss here, but I will because I need to clear my inner static before my back surgery this week. The Ethan incident is an interlude which for me exposed that radical ambivalence which occasionally erupts in almost every marriage or very long term relationship. There are moments when you can love and hate your spouse/partner in equal measures. This was one of those times.

He refused getting a cat first because he doesn’t like cats. As the argument grew, he had a reason which really Trumped the whole matter: cats make him so nervous he gets chest pains over their messiness and general entropy. This is no small matter given he was recently diagnosed with coronary artery disease and will see a cardiologist tomorrow.

Ethan, who is 8 years old and obviously needs a home, was adopted by a fellow volunteer a couple days ago. Yesterday my daughter and I visited the shelter, and I joked with her that if Ethan happened to be there but on hold for his adoption that we should steal him and go on the run. We had enough gas to make it to Canada and request asylum for us and our kidnapped cat. In the frozen north, we could escape my surgery, the school she can barely stand, and our catless home.

When I discovered last year that my great grandpa had suddenly escaped his life and started over in a different state, I didn’t feel like such a turd for all of my past and likely future interludes where I longed for escape (and gave into that longing a few times in the past). Why is it that I swing between near agoraphobia and wanderlust?

In a couple days, I will have spinal fusion surgery. I expect to be off from work for a couple months. During my early recovery, I will need to avoid contact with pets for infection control.

This morning will be my last opportunity to bask in the dozens of cats at the shelter before my operation, so off I go.

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Morgan, who enjoys riding on my shoulders and will walk back and forth on my outstretched arms if I let her.

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