Tuesday, September 23, 2008

And The Cat Band Played On

Thirteen years ago when Not-Yet-My Mister was trying to sell me on moving to this impossibly green, yet interminably soggy city of his, I was all like, ”Look, I like you. I kind of even really like you. But as much as the romantic in me wants to say your hard ass and winsome smile are enough to justify this kind of leap, the pragmatist in me is urging caution, followed by careful negotiation.”


“Yes, negotiation. I think I’m going to need some guarantees from you.”

“Guarantees? You mean like a ring? Cuz’ I think it’s a little early for…..”

“No, no. Not that kind of guarantee--way too early for that. I’m talking more ‘declarations of future intentions’ rather than a ‘pledge your solemn troth’ kind of thing. Let’s call it a preliminary dowry.”

“A dowry.”

“Right, a dowry. Only, paid directly to me. You need not trouble my family with any part of it.”

“How much is it going to cost me?”

“How much is my love and faithful heart worth to you?”

“Jesus, Jamie. Just tell me what you want.”

“Three things. Three meager trifles and I’ll pack my bags tomorrow.”


“A new flat. You currently live in a flea infested, grease coated, arm pit of a student dorm. And frankly, I’m far too delicate to survive long in such filth.”

“Done. Second?”

“A clothes drier. I know neither you nor anyone in your entire family have ever owned, or dared covet such a new fangled contraption, but I’m here to drag you all kicking and screaming into the 21st century. Towels are not meant to abrade like brittle sandpaper across your skin. Socks are not meant to snap, crackle, and pop like bits of crumpled crepe paper as you sort and fold them. Clothes cannot dry on a line hung in the pissing rain. I can adjust to a kitchen without a dishwasher or a dispose-all, but no clothes drier is a deal breaker.”

“Fine, whatever. And third?”

“A cat.”

“A cat.”

“But not just any cat. I want The Cat. Something luxurious. Something exotic. Something fluffy. Something blue.”



“You want a blue cat.”

“Yes. I saw one in a picture once. It had a fat, round face, and copper eyes.  Gorgeous.  It was called something-blue-something or other. Find me one, won’t you darling? Only then will I know your love is true. Only then can I give myself to you completely.”

The rest is, as they so often say, history.  The breed turned out to be the British Shorthair, and the particular variety of Shorthair that I wanted, the Blue, turned out to be almost nonexistent here in Bergen.  We finally found a breeder in Drammen (city in eastern Norway) who had a kitten he was willing to part with.  Of course,  it was obscenely expensive, but I'm pretty sure I was worth it.
He's been a good Puss.  Haughty, arrogant, distainful.  Distant, dismissive, imperious.  Pretty much everything a good Puss is supposed to be.

Here he is 8 years ago with Elder Miss.
It was incredibly magnanimous of him to pose with her that day.  As you can see, he wasn't in the mood.  And he told me in no uncertain terms that, "If that mewling, drooling moppet so much as smiles at my tail, I swear to God, there will be blood."  Happily, all went well.

Alas, my Puss is an old man now, and his health is beginning to fail him.  He's been sneezing--violent, gripping, brain-curdling sneezing attacks that leave him visibly shaken and drained.  And last week he started whistling through his nose when he breathed. 

The vet, a lovely Danish woman who petted and preened over him like as if he were Bast, the Egyptian cat god, (which, I'm pretty sure, in his ag├ęd fog, he thinks he is) ran some tests, and didn't have the best of prognoses to share.  He has some manner of herpes virus in his eyes which, apparently, he's had for some time.  Like any other form of herpes, it flares up then settles down in waves.  Right now it's very flared up, and there's a secondary bacterial infection going on in his eys that we got some drops for.  He's also got an upper respiratory infection--hence the sneezing--and more pills to treat it.  But the really bad news is he tested positive for FIV (basically the cat version of HIV).

Herpes and FIV--sigh.  We always knew he ran with a dangerous crowd, but we thought he was being careful!*

It's not exactly a death sentence.  He's not suffering (beyond the sneezing, and the twice daily maulings he endures as I try to wrangle eye drops into his weepy eyes). He's not wasting away as we speak, and he's certainly not dying.  But she (the vet) did stop talking about getting his teeth cleaned as soon as she saw the test result, and she said we need to treat this, and any other infection, very aggressively.  She wants him on a special high protein diet, and she says it would probably be best if he didn't go outside anymore.

I'm a cat person.  A life-long lover of the kitties.  This particular kitty has been with me from pretty much day one of my Norwegian life.  It goes without saying that I'm willing to do what it takes to keep him alive as long as it makes sense to keep him alive.  Mister grew up on a farm.  One of his jobs growing up was disposing of the many, many litters of kittens that would turn up throughout the years.  He says he didn't like this job, but he did it.  He suffers no over-wrought sentimentality when it comes to animals.  Even cherished pets. 

So Mom, you may be right.  If he gets sick again after this, Puss may not be long for this life.

*Disclaimer--Neither herpes nor FIV are sexually transmitted diseases in cats.  Both are spread largely through saliva (fighting, biting, spitting, etc).  Whatever, he's still always been the neighborhood man-whore.


hexe said...

I have been reading your blog for a bit and just wanted to say that I enjoy your insight and humor. My husband spent a year in Norway and if he could find viable employment, we'd be on a plane this minute.

Hope your cat pulls through. Hubby and I did the whole negotiation thing too, except if was where to spend holidays. Not sure I won won that one . . .

jillybaby said...

I feel your pain JEDA, my kitties (also blue) had similar ailments and even now, years later, I still miss them. Doesn't help that my daughter almost chokes to death when she comes within a mile of a furry feline friend (as you'll remember from our visit).

However, even Heather is sad about Puss, she does love him...just from a distance!

Queen LaTeacha said...

Well, I'm heartbroken! You've been down this road before, but I think you've probably had Puss longer than Sasha -- maybe not, I can't remembere. Sash was around for a very long time. I know Puss has seen you through good and bad times and loved you through all of them.

I know you're not selfish enough to make him hang around doped up on super meds when it's clearly time for him to move on. My heart hurts for you and for the kids. It'll be a tough moment. Hopefully you have some quality time left with him. So sorry.

Amy said...

"the neighborhood man-whore"?!? You must be so proud!

Trace said...

The fabulously written banter between you two...

The snap, crackling and popping socks...yum.

And the neighborhood "man whore" line...

Thank you for making me smile today!

Onto the issue at hand... what a lovey, squishy and sweet ball of cuddly softness you have had the pleasure to embrace for such a long time. Both of you have been blessed by one another and are better for your experience together. So sorry about the sad situation with Puss. With Bijou coming up the rear, we totally understand and are thinking of you.

OSLO said...

I'm not a cat-lover but that puss is gorgeous. Sorry to hear he's ailing but kudos for keeping your sense of humour about it - at least online.

Anonymous said...

Jesus Jamie, I feel your pain. You know what a soft spot I have for cats. Just knowing that your cat is now well, makes the tears well up. What a whimp. What can I say - I LOVE CATS. Hope Puss gets better soon. Thanksgiving just won't be the same without him.


Alpha Grandpa said...

Remember Killer, it broke my heart when he was gone, as you cana tell this is grandma not grandpa,

Michele said...

Hey Jamie, this is a great post. Funny and sentimental. I really do understand how you feel about your beautiful cat-friend. My Baggins is 17 this year; he's slowing down in an obvious way, and I hate having to give him his daily thyroid medication, since he hates it even more.

As long as they eat and have a quality of life, though, they deserve to be with us. Good on you for not giving up on the boy just yet. You'll know when it's time. Keep the husband's hands off him! :-)