by Melodie Davis
for release November 24, 2000
A Cat's Tale
Our oldest daughter's much-loved cat, Boots, developed a growth last year. The vet recommended removing it, although he confessed it would most likely come back. We struggled with what to do. Do you deny care to a family pet? How much intervention is too much? While there are much worse problems to face, if you have pets and your children are fond of them, what do you do?
Finally, I sat down and wrote a "Kitty Living Will," feeling that if cats could talk, this is what they might tell us:
"I, Boots, having just gone through a second major operation in three months, and being of relatively sound body and slightly peeved mind, do hereby state that I do not wish to be subjected to any more such ordeals.
"Everyone has been most kind; I've been handled lovingly, gently, cooed at, admired, and praised for being so gentle. But that can't make up for the fact that, as a cat, my very 'catness' has been invaded. I've been made to go to bed without any supper, made to stay inside against my will, even when I had to do my business badly, all because I had this stupid appointment at the veterinarian's. Moreover, I had to get up and go without breakfast. You humans can be told what is going on, but all I could do was guess, wondering, Okay, what's up with this? Are they just being mean today, or are they planning to sneak me off to the hospital again? It can't be that, not again, so soon. I don't ever want to go back to that place!'
"The indignity! Going to a place that serves.... Dogs! In the same place! I know, I'm not supposed to be prejudiced, but come on, dogs? Our arch enemies? Being put in a cage, like a wild animal? Oh sure, I hiss with the best of 'em, but I am meek and gentle of heart. A genuine lap cat, even if I still like a little roaming and hunting now and then to keep me young.
"At the hospital, someone pokes me, sticks me, shaves me. Well, so I don't feel a thing, but buddy when I wake up, it is hangover city, staggering around like a poor drunk. I think they drugged me. I don't feel too bad, I just look terrible.
"Well at least I got to home by evening this time around and not stay overnight in that dark and smelly place in a cage while all the nice people go home. That first time I had no one to tuck me in, no one to talk to, just other cats meowing madly and dogs whimpering like wimps.
"Even now, in the post-op period, I face a daily ordeal of swallowing pills morning and night. Why do they keep forcing those things down my throat? And for what? Then I will have to go back to the doctor where he will pinch me to get my stitches out.
"No, a real cat just lives his or her nine lives as they come. They know when to put their kitty foot down and say, enough of this going in and out of the vet's office, getting poked, getting pills, puking.
"Therefore, as a true, brave cat, who has been more loved than most cats in this world and probably better than I deserve, I do humbly request that you just let me be; if the growth comes back a third time, I'll just take my lumps and with a little bit of luck, who knows, maybe it will just go into remission for awhile. Maybe my nine lives are about up. I don't know. I do know this: I've been a lucky kitten to have you for my mistress all these wonderful years, far longer than anyone ever dreamed a cat could live at the Davis house. Remember how I broke that spell of bad luck, and taught every kitten after me the wonderful art of 'Skillfully Dodging Cars While Fearlessly Hunting Mice Across the Road'? Rats! That was fun!
"Don't feel badly; we both knew this time was coming. Would I have traded all those years of being 'most loved cat'? I think not. In fact, being 'most loved cat' gets me through this tough time even now. Knowing I made you happy too makes me feel smug: we were quite a pair.
"I do not kid myself, after all, I am a cat. I'm quite happy with what I am. And since I am a cat, please, please don't worry too much about not doing all you can for me in my sickness. Let me live out my days in peace and when my time comes, when I can hardly walk, eat, or drink, do your final loving deed and take me one last time to be quietly put to sleep.
"And don't cry too much, except tears of joy maybe, because you have made me probably the happiest cat in the world!"
Signed, Your loving cat.
Thoughts and comments? Write to: Melodie Davis, Another Way c/o Name\Address of YOUR newspaper; or e-mail: Melodie@mennomedia.org.
You can also visit Another Way on the Web at www.thirdway.com.
Melodie Davis is the author of seven books and has written her column since 1987. She taught feature writing and has won awards from a number of organizations including the National Federation of Press Women, Virginia Press Women and the American Advertising Association. She and her husband have three growing daughters.
NOTES TO EDITORS: text = 825 words; end material = 105 words
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