Somewhere between Bell's Palsy and death
Friday, October 05, 2012
Yeah, I’m on about my damn cat

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Rube Sunday night, passed out and dreaming and unaware

Rube and I have this ritual: At night after I hit the sack, he’ll climb up on the right side of the bed, stretch his front legs over the pillows and then drape himself over my neck and chest, purring while I slather with kisses his face or head or whatever he ends up sticking in my pucker space. He doesn’t do it every single night, but most nights I can count on him stopping in before going off and doing whatever he and Carol get up to. But he hasn’t come the last couple nights, and when he’s been out from under the beds, we’ve sat on the couch awkwardly or he’s yelled at me for giving him his prednisone. I wouldn’t give it a second thought except for I’ve no doubt he’s still pissed at me for the ordeal at the vet, but I’m also quite sure he now knows that I know he’s dying, and like, say, when a friend tells you they like the feel of weasels down their pants, there’s really no turning back THAT revelation.

I can’t believe I’ve never written about how Rube and I got together: It was April ‘99, six months into living on my own for the first time ever, and I’d just settled in to write a story about a gun show when I heard this obnoxious “REE-ER! REE-ER! REE-ER!” coming from outside. The windows were closed and I thought it was a bird caught in the bushes at first, so I went outside and quickly realized it was a cat, so I psssspssspsssspssss’d fully expecting a cat to come out and not what was essentially a fetus. Picked it up and ran upstairs, and then called anyone I knew who had cats to see what they knew about taking care of a cat fetus. (Also discovered rather unceremoniously that he was a he after thinking he was a she because I’d never had a cat before and all cats were she to me. “Ruben,” in fact, came from “Ruby” because that’s what I’d always planned to name a girl cat. Props to my quick-thinking seester.) After taking him to the office and (someone, not me) losing a valuable photography equipment thing we used to try and feed him some milk, got him some formula and started feeding him by dropper.

Dad, upon hearing after Rube’s first vet visit the next day that the vet thought he was about two-weeks old, promptly said I shouldn’t get my hopes up, that he probably wouldn’t make it. Over my dead body was that going to happen: I was between gigs at the time, so I fed him every three hours like the vet said, and he went EVERYWHERE with me—stayed in the car for job interviews, slept in my shirt during assignments, came to the office with me while I manned the phones on the Sports desk. I not only litter-trained him, but I taught him how to expel waste (not as vile as you might think, although I was the human litterbox for about two weeks until I got him using litter.)

For the last 13 1/2 years, this jerk of a cat has given me more scars in places you’d never believe and has shit in my laundry more times than I count. He never fails to step on my nipple while situating himself to bathe my hair in the morning, and he yells at me when I touch his tail in any way. He once jumped into the toilet and right back out before I had a chance to sit down after a night of drinking MGD, he’s horked hairballs on just about every wood surface I own and poked holes in all my yoga and jammie pants with his claws. He rolls around on the freshly cleaned bathroom floor, huffing the bleach. He beat on his little brother constantly and walks across my keyboard as I’m trying to file my stories ...

before he settles down and curls up to my left, sticking his head in my face and paws over my arm, purring away.

He hears my car pull up and watches out the window while I come up the walk, cheeking the window pane until I get in the door, or did at least until a few days ago. Every tear I’ve shed or ounce of anger I’ve wasted over whatever jackass, he’s settled in on my chest and purred until I can pull it together to get out of bed. (Fun story: The first night TOG ever spent at the resort, I woke to find Rube sleeping at the foot of my side instead of the right side (where he usually slept) because TOG was there. Rube looked at me, and then looked at the passed-out TOG—we’d gone to see The Who the night before and, well, you know—and looked at me again with this look I can only describe as, “Are you serious with this shit!?” There’s something to be said when even your cat knows what a rotten situation you’re in, and I might’ve saved myself about five years of absurdity had I listened, right!?) After Dad died, he looked for him for weeks when Mother would come over; to this day, we’ll be on the couch and Rube’ll put his paw on my shoulder every so often, and dumb as this sounds, I imagine Dad’s telling Rube to say “Hey.”

For 13 1/2 years, this damn cat has been my everything, and now he’s dying, and I can’t do better than try to figure out whether he’s in pain and keep him comfortable because the alternative holds no guarantee and would likely be worse. It’s so not fair.


Posted by Broad4:29 AM
It is the job of a good person to be honest. To be self-aware. To deliberately explore the fault lines of your character and try desperately to not inflict suffering in this strange, ghost-ridden world of worked and fabricated objects. Sometimes the jobs of writer and good person coincide. But more often they don’t. There are way more writers in the world than there are good people.

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