I have two cats, Tigger and Charlie. They are sweet and funny and loving, which is my biased opinion because I’m a cat person. Admittedly, my cats are spoiled rotten, pampered and played with, and get along with each other … most of the time.
Charlie is a gentle giant. He’s an orange tabby with big green eyes and weighs a whopping 16 pounds. Despite his size, he’s extremely agile. He’s been known to vault his big kitty butt over couches, countertops and even the occasional refrigerator. Remember John Belushi’s pudgy but agile Blues Brothers character Joliet Jake Blues? That’s Charlie. This cat loves his food and has a reputation for dumpster diving. His favorites include pizza and chinese pea pods. He has a tiny baby-sound meow that somehow doesn’t match his physique but comes in handy when people pet him because he likes to meow. He’s a lady’s man. He’s also extremely laid back and unflappable.
Tigger, on the other hand, is a spazmo. He’s a brown tabby with green eyes and sports an unusually long tail. A couple years ago I adopted Tig from a shelter when he was 8 weeks old. A kitten would be good company for Charlie, right? And I just, well, wanted a kitten. Besides, Charlie could use a little more exercise and a kitten would be a great workout partner. Tig did not disappoint. He loves to chase anything that moves, especially Charlie. Tigger is both shy and curious. Nothing motivates him to come when you call his name unless you have something shiny to dangle, or a treat, catnip, or anything that might resemble a snake …. string, ribbon, a fake snake … whatever. He’s also seduced by french fries and crackers.
Mind you, pets are no substitute for family, friends, children or significant others. However, Charlie and Tigger are good company. When I broke my leg a couple years ago (actually I broke my left leg and foot, and sprained my right ankle), Charlie spent every day of the 6 weeks I was stuck in bed right by my side. And they protect my house … sort of. Every spring they manage to hunt down several mice and bring them to me when I get home from work. On a cold winter night last year I came home to a crazy mess of broken plates in the kitchen and crooked lamp shades in the living room. Tigger stood sentry next to the home wrecker … a bird that somehow, some way, managed to get INSIDE. The bird was bigger than Tig, and he tried to corral that crazy thing until I threw a towel over Mr. Bird and ushered it outside.
Okay, so they really don’t protect the house. But don’t tell them that.
For those of you who have pets, you know that when they get sick, the cure always involves an unexpected layout of money way beyond what seems reasonable. Charlie is prone to urinary tract infections. My technique for getting sick or injured cats inside their carrier is a masterpiece of bribery and foolery. Last week we made the trip to the clinic … and waited over 2.5 hours. Charlie had to pee, but couldn’t. He managed a few sorry little puddles on the floor. He was hot and shedding fur was floating around the room like milkweed. I was hot (and crabby) and was sweating enough to melt magazine ink all over my hands in a frantic attempt to fan myself. My stupid lupus rash glowed purple under the lovely harsh lights of the exam room. So pretty. At least the cold tile floor helped the cat. I couldn’t justify stripping down and laying next to him, so I suffered in silence. Outside our room, dogs were howling, cats were hissing, and we both stared at the door, praying for redemption, which finally came with some antibiotics after I handed over my VISA card. Oh yeah, and a reminder to make a follow up appointment for a urine specimen in 2 weeks, just to be sure the infection is cleared. We get home and are greeted by Tigger, who is now convinced that Charlie returned with a bad case of the cooties. He hissed at Charlie for two days. Charlie could have cared less.
I know some folks might think I’m well on my way to being one of those old lady cat people, walking around with clothes covered in cat fur, and a kitchen pantry filled with cans of cat food. I have a bunch of kitty Christmas ornaments. I own earrings and pins with cats on them. I don’t have any grandchildren yet, so I call Charlie and Tigger “my boys.” Kitty toys litter my living room … little mice, balls, and catnip squares.
But here’s the thing. These guys don’t care what I look like. And lately, between the prednisone and the lupus flare ups, I’m a little worn around the edges. Charlie and Tigger just want to sit on my lap, purr and chill out. When they act like total goofballs who run around and chase their tails, I often forget about the crummy day at work, or the scary doctor visit, or the infusions I deal with every three weeks. These kitties are good for the heart and soul.
Now, if they could only learn how to cook and fold the laundry. But even I know that’s never gonna happen any time soon. Maybe some day 🙂