Since my life is SO boring, let’s add in some pet healthcare issues!
My poor guy isn’t feeling well. He is 17 years old - same age as my oldest nephew which feels strange since one is heading into adulthood and the other one is at end of life.
He’s had urinary tract issues for a good ten years but otherwise, he has been in excellent health.
This past year, however, he is showing signs of old age. I know that’s a good life for a cat! I realize that it’ll be his time to go sooner than later.
But the thought of him leaving right now, while my dad is so sick and I’m not doing so hot either, wrecks me.
I never planned on being a cat owner. I had a dog as a kid (and yes, his name was Sandy like in Annie) and I’m much more of a “dog person” even though as I write that I wonder: what does that even mean?
Not long after moving to New York City, I was seeing someone that adopted this little guy right after he was born. When he moved into an apartment that wouldn’t allow cats, I took in this furball.
I remember freaking out about the decision. I can’t be a pet owner! I have ZERO knowledge about cats! (Still do, for the most part, sad as that is - they’ve been relatively easy.) I lived in a studio apartment! How the hell did this happen? I remember thinking as he zoomed around my little Upper West Side apartment.
My ex named him Skid because he skidded around so much and was super active. I briefly tried changing his name when he officially became “mine” (I think we tried “Mo” since he walks pretty gangster) but it was too late. He only responded to Skid, a name I always feel compelled to explain.
The truth is the name suits him. Skid is a badass! I remember when my friend would regal me with tales of him jumping from the floor to the top of a door and I was like whaaaaa? Full. Of. Shit. I didn’t believe it was possible!
When Skid moved in with me, I’d discover him sitting along the top of the bathroom door - easily jumping from the counter only to later find out that if he was really motivated, he could jump from the floor too. He is very long and skinny so he’d just lounge on top of doors for quite awhile - he always looked very relaxed up there!
I think he’s made it this far because he has been so active and athletic (my cure for everything these days - but especially longevity - is exercise and movement, which has edged out nutrition as top priorities for good health and a long life which I’ll get into more as I share more health education content).
He’s also been a royal pain in the ass at times. He’s very strong and feisty so getting him to the vet is a stressful experience. When he was really small, I could get him into the bag without incident. He thought it was an adventure!
I moved vet offices, though, and something happened there. The vet called me and said Skid was no longer welcome at her practice! This was on Columbus in the 90s - I can’t remember the name of the place but I was pissed. What kind of vet office kicks a cat out?
I remember asking her: did he hurt anyone? My worst fear. She said: no, he jumped out of the bag, essentially walked an arc ALONG THE WALL (badass!) and freaked them out.
I said: you’re kicking him out because he got scared and jumped really far out of his bag?
The answer was yes.
Like mother like son, I suppose. Feisty as hell, sometimes a little scary, but essentially harmless.
Ever since that vet visit, getting him into the bag has been a NIGHTMARE. Moving him across country. three times and then from California to here has been AWFUL. If you’ve never handled a pissed off and incredibly strong animal, let me tell ya, you haven’t lived! Sometimes my shirt would be drenched with sweat by the time I got the bag fully zipped up (his paws swiping until the bitter end).
I have a second kitty, Lucy who is the easiest, sweetest kitty ever. I put her in a bag and she’s so scared, she doesn’t move for hours. She whines for awhile but that’s it.
Not this guy! When I took the photo above, he’d already consumed a half .5mg pill of Xanax.
That’s the dose I GIVE TO MYSELF.
He was still awake on that dose! I only take Xanax a couple of times per month because I’ve heard too many horror stories trying to get off benzos - but when I do take it, I sleep so well - he is 10 POUNDS and not only stays awake but is still pissed off.
Though, today was the easiest time I’ve had since he was a kitten.
It’s taken me 17 years to develop a system that works. SEVENTEEN YEARS.
I got my falcon-safe gloves - thank you Amazon you evil corporate monster. I crushed up the pill last night while he was napping. I learned the hard way that if I do it in front of him which obviously was the case when I lived in small apartments, he’ll get suspicious (gangster, I’m telling you) and then not eat it (don’t waste my drugs, dude!).
Other times, he’d be so sick, he wouldn’t eat the food even if I was sly. One time, I didn’t time the pill correctly and let’s just say that it was the worst airport experience ever.
Thankfully, today, he ate the entire amount which means he got the full .25 dose of Xanax.
As soon as an hour passed and I saw him walk a little wobbly, I threw on the gloves and easily got him in the bag.
Why am I writing about this?
I guess because it’s the thing that’s happening today that’s got me worried. Too many health issues in this house! Worried about my dad - who looks a little better but still a lot more fragile than I’ve ever seen him be. Worried about my kitty who is currently at the vets now and getting a work-up.
Worried about myself - I really should be making phone calls or organizing my doctor info but it’s absolutely futile for me to try and get much accomplished on Fridays.
I’m hoping it’s just a UTI or something bladder related like he had in the past. If they tell me something really serious is wrong and I have to make the decision to put him down….ohhhhh I can’t even.
I used to be judgmental about people who acted like their pets were their children. I personally don’t do that - they are animals that I love dearly but they are not human children. But I certainly don’t judge others now if they want to consider or even call their pets their children. I get it.
When you don’t have your own kids, your pets can fill a really important void. Even if you do have kids, pets can feel like children and be super important members of the family! I just try not to judge people in general anymore. Judging others for how they live their lives is a waste of brain bandwidth and energy (if only the judgy folks poured that judgment energy into helping people who instead!).
The truth is: I really, really want a dog. A small but not yappy one - a manageable size, a smart mutt. Lucy would be fine with a dog. NO WAY in hell I could bring a dog in my space with Skid. He’d terrorize the poor thing - even as a senile aging cat, he’d somehow torture a new animal coming into his territory. Plus, there is no way in hell I have the energy, money or capacity to take care of three animals! I barely can take care of myself and them as it is.
Either way, I’ve known that I can’t get a dog unless Skid passes.
But I don’t want him to pass! I want him to live forever. If they invented a way to keep him alive for 20 more years, I’d be totally fine not getting a dog and living with my miracle kittens.
I just know that I will have a hard time when he goes, so I think talking about getting a dog helps me manage that anxiety.
It’s so weird! Nobody in my entire family is into pets - they all give me shit about owning animals (except the California family - they’re into pets). I used to feel shame about being the typical “unmarried woman with cats.”
Now I’m like fuck that shit. How sad for those people who think those judgmental thoughts. Some of the coolest people I know have taught me so much about cats and animal behavior! It’s so stupid that we even judge people at all for their lifestyle or their “family.”
So much of why I shared a holiday photo this past year with just myself was because I’m so DONE with that idiotic stigma of being my own family! For Pete’s sake, I’ve met far too many people over the years that stay in really awful situations - a hear this mostly from women but it could also be the case for dudes - simply because they’re afraid of being alone or fear “what people will think” if they divorce and *gasp* end up SINGLE. (Horror of all horrors - taking care of oneself while partner-less, what a tragedy.)
I get that it’s not easy! Kids or not, a shared life is a difficult thing to break up. But to not go that route because of concern about what others think? I’ve heard it way too many times. It makes me feel so sad. That our society is so judgmental and repressive and narrow-minded that people will endure years of unhappiness just so they can feel “accepted” in a restrictive, conformist, shame-filled society.
So what. I live with my folks and I have two cats. Ooooohh, that makes me what? A HUMAN BEING.
Yup. That’s what we all are! Human beings trying to get through life - and some of us are lucky enough to have animal companions along the way.
The first time I met Skid, he was the cutest little furball. He must have been around 2 months then? There was only one cat I’d ever bonded with at that point - my friend’s cat, Jezebel. I still don’t like rando cats, or dogs for that matter. I’ll admit it. I have to bond with an animal to get into them.
Anyway, that first time I met Skid and spent the night over there, I woke up with him on my chest right over my heart. And he was purring. I remember being so happy with him sleeping on me which I never knew I could experience with an animal. He didn’t sleep on me again like that for years.
He does now that he’s old. If he was here, he’d be so bothered by the fact that my computer is on my lap, he’d try to bump it away and get my attention. As soon as I move the computer, he settles right back down on my stomach - somehow never hurting it. Lucy is 13 years old and still stampedes over my stomach in a way that will hurt it - she isn’t quite as smart as he is.
He always knows how to walk just the right way across me and settles right on my chest and belly, without hitting the sore spots - I have no idea how he does it. My stomach always feels better when he’s on it. A warm heating pad of purring.
Fingers crossed I get good news. I’m trying not to stare at the clock! I won’t hear for another hour or so.
Caring for other beings is hard. It’s scary. I get why I have had so many intimacy issues! I feel things so deeply, that the thought of losing something or someone that I care about makes me feel more terrified than almost anything else. I watch my nephew enter the world now as an almost-man, and my heart constricts at the idea of any harm coming to him. But I’m also so proud of who he is and want him to experience as much of the world as he wants!
In the end, I’m really glad that all these beings and kids and people barge their way into my life and teach me how to love. Even if it’s scary, it’s worth it.
I’d like a little longer with this guy. I’m not quite ready to say goodbye to him yet.