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.”
“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.”
“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?”
“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.
Here he is 8 years ago with Elder Miss.
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 agéd 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.