My wife has been sleeping in the guest room, driven there by back, hip, and other issues. That left me and the felines in the master bedroom. The cats and I have been comfortable. My wife closes her door because she’s a light sleeper. The cats’ activities easily awaken her. Meanwhile, she runs the air purifier. This habit originated with the Skunk Wars. While we’ve won (for a while — skunks are part of nature and nature usually wins in the end), she still runs the purifier becomes she’s grown addicted to the white noise.
All that is background, explanation to why, at about three this morning, I awoke and said to the cat sleeping by my head, “Tucker, I think I need to use the bathroom. I think I need to have a bowel movement.”
The admission surprised me. This isn’t the time that I usually crap and I’m a regular crapper. I’d been feeling fine and sound asleep. My stomach was mildly aching, though, when I awoke so I went on in there and, lo, it was like a huge dam broke. Relieved, hands washed, stomach fine, I headed back to bed.
All this is background to why I was awake to hear Papi vomit at 3:16 AM. Papi has been sick for two days. Not eating nor drinking water. We’d been forcing water into him via a syringe, along with Rebound. His vomit is always the same: thin, yellow, bile looking stuff. He doesn’t vomit often, nor in large amounts. After checking on him, I returned to bed. 3:28 AM: he came in and used the litter box. I got up to check the results: solid feces.
I was hopeful from there. He’s been looking okay, no wounds, but lethargic and not eating. I’d checked on taking him to the vet but all twenty vets within the Ashland-Talent-Phoenix-Medford-Central Point string of cities and towns except two emergency sites were closed on the weekends. I’m always an optimist, so, I opened a can of food to entice Papi to eat. He wasn’t buying but the other sick cat said, “Yum, yum,” and went to town.
At 4 AM, Tucker and I went back to bed. Papi the sick kitty began banging on the door to be let outside. I explained to him in a taut, rational voice, no fucking way. He kept on for a while, claiming that he’s a cat and doesn’t understand English. Finally, after 4:30 passed by on the clock, he went somewhere to sleep.
I was worried, though. Where was he? Was he okay? I checked on him. Yes, he’d found a living room spot where he’d settled with a glare, because I wasn’t letting him out.
When seven forty-five struck, my wife came to me. She was getting ready for her exercise class, and we needed to call the vet. I talked her into calling so that I could gain a few minutes of extra sleep. Our vet didn’t have any appointments available, she reported back. They recommended we take the cat to an emergency service.
Pushing myself awake, I ginned up the computer and hunted down the list of vets and called. No appointments available. I finally called the emergency service and set up to take Papi in. We left the house at 8:45 and made the twenty-mile drive.
The SOVSC is set up for COVID. It’s a large operation, a fashionable and new metal, glass, and concrete building that looks like a high school. Nobody goes in. You wait outside and the come for your animal when they can. The parking lot was full of vehicles with pet owners bringing animals in for care. We called in, explained who we were, what car we were in, and joined the queue.
Papi wasn’t happy about it and voiced his belief that we were torturing him. We’d brought books to read and coffee and water to drink but Papi was telling us that the car and the kennel wasn’t where he wanted to be. We commiserated; it’s not where we wanted him to be, either. He wasn’t buying this any more than he’d bought the food earlier.
I was struggling with Papi’s sickness. About six years old, he’s always been an energetic, happy, healthy cat, tail up, dashing around, chatting to me about the other cats, food, toys, the way I was petting him, etc. It seemed impossible that he was sick. But he was, like a switch in his body had been thrown.
Time passed. We comforted Papi and watched proceedings with other cars, owners, and pets. The clinic called us for more information. Phone problems were encountered with their system. They were calling people, but nobody was receiving the call, including us. They came out and fetched Papi. They would call shortly. Well, the calls, you know…
They came out and fetched us. We were taken into a small room for a consultation with the vet. When the vet came in, my wife and I did a double-take; shouldn’t this child be in school? (“You know you’re old when everyone else starts looking like children,” my wife later told me.) The vet told us some things that were expected about him being dehydrated, confirmed his habits, then told us that he had some muscle atrophy that looked more long-term. That stunned us into silence. A plan of treatment was set up: hydration and observation. Xrays and ultrasound. Blood work. He’d need to stay overnight, of course. Here’s the total estimate, two grand on the low end, thirty-five hundred on the other end. We need a two grand deposit.
We arrived back home and ate breakfast at 11:30. Here we sit, depressed and wondering, going through the habits and routines that define our lives. I remind myself of shit. There’s a war going on — another one, creating another humanitarian crises, triggering another wave of refugees. COVID-19 has killed or incapacitated a huge number of people. Bad things happen to people every day, including rape, murder, and abuse. Houses burn down. Likewise, horrendous things are visited on animals. And, yeah, we’re privileged enough to have the money to help our fur friend. Others are not so fortunate.
That’s where the brain argues about emotion versus logic. Emotion doesn’t give a damn about what others are enduring. Take your logic and shove it, the emotional neurons shout.
The long morning morphs into a long day.