Cat parenthood really isn’t that different from being a regular parent.
For one, cats are not afraid to be vocal the same way infants are if they’re hungry or want attention and enjoy cuddle time with their “parents.”
Of course, if you spoil a human they might not grow up to be responsible, considerate adults. Cats exist for love and snuggles; spoil away.
This past week I was inducted into the Cat Mom Hall of Fame for the oft-decried-as-impossible feat.
I out-stubborned a cat.
Tubby tabby Holly normally hangs out in the kitchen, follows us around and is quite vocal. However, last Thursday she went under my bed and didn’t come out. From Friday through Sunday she stayed under there, burrowing herself further and further to the back.
Friday was an especially unnerving night. I was in college when my first two cats, Daisy and Lily, passed on, so I didn’t get the see them in their last night. Mom was there for both times, and said Holly’s behavior was not too far off from Lily’s when it was time to go — tucking herself in a private spot where she could feel near us but be left alone, not eating, not getting up, seemingly not caring about anything.
I honestly thought she was going to pass last Friday and spent a bulk of the evening talking to her, and exchanging slow blinks. In cat body language, a slow blink from a cat means “I love you,” which left me a mess thinking this was our final goodbye.
We were worried about her getting stuck under my bed, so on Sunday Mom and I took it apart so we could keep an eye on her as she laid among all the stuff I keep stuffed under there.
Over the course of the four days she had not eaten anything and was having difficulty breathing out her nose. Come Monday I took her to the vet and she was diagnosed as having an upper respiratory infection. The stuffed-up nose had taken away her appetite, so the vet gave me some food for her. The instructions said to heat up the food, which would give off a horrid (my description, by the way) odor that would entice a cat to eat.
We tried on Monday evening. No avail.
We tried Tuesday morning. Nope. The vet advised Mom to put some food on her thumb, gently pry Holly’s mouth open and stick the food to the roof of her mouth, which she would swallow. Mom said Holly would let her do it.
I gave it a shot. Frankly, I’m convinced baptizing a cat in the toilet would have been easier than trying to pry her mouth open and stick my thumb in.
We tried Tuesday night. She took a teensy bit off my finger.
In addition to fighting with her about eating, on Monday the poor cat was having issues with her right hind leg. We thought because she had been laying so long that the leg more or less fell asleep, so that meant we needed to get her up and walk her around. She hobbled and babied her leg, crying each time she’d have to walk or I’d run my finger against her pad.
Come Wednesday morning I was ticked. I had an event to cover, didn’t want to fight with a cat at 6 a.m., and had a horrible night’s sleep. With a mattress on the floor, my dogs and other cat Violet were using that as an excuse to jump all over me as I was trying to sleep. They thought it was fun; I wanted to murder someone.
Holly was not receptive to my thumb full of smelly food. After a few tries I finally said, “Look cat, I can’t leave until you eat and I’m not going to. Now you can either eat it or starve.”
I tried another time, sticking my thumb and that nasty stuff up to her mouth. At that moment something miraculous happened.
She ate it.
In fact, Holly had been hungry and once she realized it was indeed food, she began gobbling it up.
She was so hungry, my thumb and index fingers are covered with teeth puncture marks now.
We also got her into the vet that night (that’s right — four car trips total at 20 minutes a trip = a cat singing for a total of one hour and 20 minutes in a two-day period) and discovered that the pain in her leg came from a strained ligament in her knee.
The vet gave us some painkillers to last the next few days, and we got kitty home to eat and rest. The vet made a comment about cats withdrawing when hurt so they can heal. Mom and I feel like terrible cat parents for trying to make her get up and walk it off.
So on the day I wrote this, I took a break to carry Holly — who is hobbling a little but not in pain — out to the living room so she wouldn’t get smacked by the garage door opening.
Ever since I out-stubborned her to eat Wednesday morning, she was being much warmer, like she normally is. After I put her down, I laid on my side to pet her a bit.
Holly scooted closer to me, her back pressed up against my chest as we snuggled and napped a bit on the floor. It was the first pleasant moment we had in a week, where she wasn’t in pain and I wasn’t frazzled. It was absolutely lovely.
Maybe I’m doing cat motherhood right after all.
You can reach Allison (and the “kids”) at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Troydailynews.