This week in “Love, Recorded”: The excretory adventures of Boise, the cat.
On Monday night, I watch Boise hunt a plastic bag. I encourage his hunting skills. He doesn’t get to hunt anything living, but I want him to be able to, if he has the chance. Mice, for example. I haven’t ruled out mice, though Cathreen ruled them out long ago.
He bats the bag with his paw. “Good job,” I say. The bag is in the corner of the office. I turn back to whatever it is I’m doing online—I won’t be able to remember what it was, afterward. I spend far too much time online doing nothing, as if I have something extremely important to say on Facebook or Twitter. “You hunt that.”
He meows. Cathreen is in the bedroom, also online.
When I turn back to Boise, he has something in his mouth. He’s chewing away happily. It’s not the bag—“What are you eating?” I ask him.
I sigh, get down from my chair, try to pry it out of his mouth, but it’s gone. He looks pleased.
On the floor beside him, I see a dead ladybug.
When I tell Cathreen, she comes away from her computer, swoops him up, and brings him to the sink. She washes his teeth, his tongue. He cries. I wonder if the bug was worth it to him. “Some countries,” my wife says, “are eating bugs.” I hope it was delicious. I wonder if I should hope instead that it was nasty and he won’t want to eat one again, like giving a child cigarettes.
The next day we’re supposed to go to the gym for the first time, after I get out of work. Cathreen calls to say she isn’t feeling up to it. “You go to the gym yourself,” she says. I don’t want to go alone. This has been our grand plan. Yet when it comes down to it, it’s hard to start.
Later, Cathreen calls again—but this time about Boise. He’s thrown up six times in a row, she says. She’s calm, so I’m calm. I picture the stains. He’s a chain-vomiter. He’ll be fine.
Just after I get out of work, Cathreen calls a third time, to say he keeps throwing up, and now all that’s coming out is white foam.
She’s crying; I can barely understand her.
“Call the vet,” I say, several times. I remember the bug—though I didn’t see what he ate exactly. Poison? Cathreen would kill me. “Call,” I say. “Then call me back and tell me if we need a car.”
I wait. I feel angry with her, for no reason, or because I know she has every right to be angry with me.
Finally, she tells me to get the car. I have to Zipcar it, and I get stuck with a little Smartcar.
I struggle with the non-power steering of the rental and the non-smart voice of the GPS until we get to the vet. Then we have to wait in line. I can feel this snipping off pieces of Cathreen’s zen. In the car, she said it was a good thing that we didn’t go to the gym.
Two dachshunds bark at everything that moves.
When we’re inside a little sub-room, the vet tech checks Boise as he hisses. She tries to tell him to stop. She calls him “Boyz” instead of “Boise,” like the capitol. “He doesn’t like her,” Cathreen whispers to me. I can’t blame him.
Our vet, Boise likes. He lets her touch him, his chest humming in and out. She says he’s licking his lips to tell her he still feels nauseous. I can see that this impresses my wife. I can feel her committing this to memory.
The vet says Boise needs a few shots and some bland food, but he’ll probably be okay. I tell her sheepishly about Boise’s hunting night. She doesn’t shame me; I give her credit for that.
They take him into the back, and Cathreen asks nervously why we didn’t go with him. “He’ll be fine,” I say. “They’re doing their job.” I am beginning to feel alright. Then, I’m beginning to think about money.
“He never away from me when they’re shooting him,” Cathreen says, an alarming language mix-up. But she means she always held him when they gave him injections in Korea, or he would go berserk.
After a few minutes, we hear a high pitch whine from the back, then many more in succession. “That’s him,” Cathreen says. That can’t be him, I think. Wrong voice.
But it is. A vet tech appears and shows us the gouge in her knuckle to prove it.
They bring him out in his cat bag. He’s peed inside. Cathreen has to remove the cat leash for them.
“See,” Cathreen says. I can smell her point.
All the way back, she rests the bag on her knees; we keep the windows down. We stop at a CVS and she leaves his bag on the ground to rush in. I watch over it. At first, Boise attacked anything that got close to the bag, and then the mesh of the bag itself, but finally he seems to have realized who he is with.
Cathreen reappears with the baby wipes (because we can’t give him a bath). I stop short of saying we should lock him in the bathroom. In my defense: cat piss.
I drive the car back to its parking spot with the windows still down.
At home, Cathreen has washed him but the bag is a goner. She’s done a marvelous job, really. The vet tech said that cats often do their business when they get multiple injections, and that sometimes they are worried when a cat does not. I include this so as not to make Boise look bad.
That night, he gets only ten pieces of hard food, and I realize as I’m feeding him that it’s about ninety pieces less than usual. He asks for more, like a Dickens orphan. I am unable to give it to him.
We wonder if we should stay home from work the next day; we wait until morning to see how he is doing. By the time I wake, Cathreen is gone. Whatever Boise had seems to have passed. By the time I get home, the whole house has been cleaned spotless. Cathreen is watching him, and I hold her in my arms and help observe.