Editorial – The Joy of Pet Ownership

So ask me how my vacation was. Go ahead. Ask.

How was it? Crappy. Literally.

I should explain. We have a cat. To be accurate, we have three cats and a dog, but this is about one specific cat of ours. All of our cats are rescues, and this little guy was originally brought in to the rescue association by a farmer who found the tiny kitten all alone out in the middle of a field, half starved, with no clue how he got there. The poor little thing’s face was all scrunched up like a gremlin, and he had a tiny tail that simply hadn’t grown out because of malnutrition. A good person with the MEOW society, where we got him from, had been carrying him around to work with her because he’d been so weak and ill.

His first vaccination almost killed him. He spent nearly a full day just curled up in my lap, and the vet told us that we should probably expect not to have him for more than a couple years. But that was over ten years ago. It’s amazing what good food and decent care can do for an animal.

Unfortunately, our little Grue (if you ever played the computer game Zork, you’ll get the reference) was never quite right. His vocal cords never developed properly (we surmise that he may have been taken by some sort of predator that damaged his throat before losing him in the field) and to this day he can’t meow. Oh, he makes the motion, but nothing comes out. The other thing that seems to have been damaged is his digestion.

Normally, it’s controlled. He goes to the litter like any other cat, just what comes out of him generally isn’t solid. It’s not a huge problem thanks to the invention of clumping litter, just a bit disconcerting. We’ve tried various diets, a battery of vet tests, but it seems that the one time we found a combination that would firm things up for him, it also had the effect of nearly killing him with an abundance of calcium and water retention in his system.

This brings us around to my point. “Normally”, as it turns out, isn’t the same as “always”, and this last week has forced us to break out the carpet steamer and stock up on enzyme cleaner and Febreze. The smell is a mixture of cow-pies and something worse, and while we make jokes about how he could advance chemical warfare techniques, we live in fear that he might slip by us and get on the bed one day. We’d have to burn the mattress. As you can imagine, he’s pretty miserable about it as well. My concern is that this isn’t just a flare-up, but rather a sign of him having already lived five times beyond what was originally projected for him. We’ve got some vet solutions that’ll hopefully bring the symptoms down, but at a certain point you have to ask yourself if it’s more humane to prolong a life of misery.

So. That’s been my vacation. On the plus side, the writers for The Voice Magazine have been busy putting together a bunch of interesting reads for you this week. In particular, check out Wanda Waterman’s “In Conversation,” and, of course, the third and concluding part of our photo feature about the events surrounding AU’s recent convocation ceremonies.