This week’s post will be a little quicker, less processed as I have a lot to do today before jetting off for fall break to the mountains tomorrow. I’m heading off to Hot Springs, NC (voted best small mountain town by Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine in 2012!) in order to bask in cool mountain air and autumn colors. I always have the urge to “get away” into nature. To lose myself in a thicket of trees. To feel the certainty of having to put one foot in front of the other. To leave behind traffic noises and the sound of small talk. To feel infinitesimal under a big sky and looming peaks but also rooted in time and place. That I’m renting a secluded cabin near Max Patch feels right. I’ve been overwhelmed, emotionally exhausted, and in need of a change of scene for a while now.
I’ve also been really stressed about the health of my little kitty, Daisy. She’s almost six months old now, which in kitty years means she’s technically an adolescent. This is also evidenced by her overall newfound brattery (shredding bed spreads/curtains, sitting on my face while I sleep, stepping her own poop and then pouncing every where in the newly cleaned apartment, knocking over and shattering pottery/lamps/mugs, chewing…all the things, flinging out the hair guard I have in my tub and playing soccer with it, and knowing just when I’m about to have a break-through in my relationship with my writing muse and taking that particular moment to jump up and down on my keyboard). I love her, though, more than I thought I would. She consistently makes me laugh and remember the benefit of furry kisses and cuddles every morning and night. It’s also so nice to have something that scampers eagerly to the door when I arrive home after a particularly frustrating teaching gig or writing workshop or social outing.
Unfortunately, she’s had diarrhea for two months–ever since I first brought her home–and it’s getting worse. The other week I found her straining and her watery stool had blood in it. I panicked and called the vet and ran her over to the hospital, where they did a full work up of tests–and everything came back negative. Which, on the one hand, is great (no cancer! no AIDS!), but on the other hand, means I am hundreds of dollars poorer and still no closer to understanding what is wrong with her or how to make her feel better.
I’ve been switching up her food every ten-fourteen days to try to see if it’s a food allergy, but so far, none have seemed to really make a huge difference. For a few days, it seemed as though a grain-free, wet turkey can food was working, but then, inexplicably, she went right back to having watery stool. (Side note: it is insane to me how many of my hours are now consumed with thoughts of poop. I sardonically mentioned to a friend that this must be what it is like to be a new parent). Frustratingly, I’d stocked up on a bunch of the turkey wet food before she turned back to the diarrhea, and now I can’t take the bulk set back to the store (it’s opened) and the vet wants her on this prescription hydrolyzed protein diet (which from what I can tell from the last two days, is just making things even more watery, stinky, and worse). To make matters even worse, this was the most expensive shit (literally) yet, and it smells just like you would imagine food that comes from a lab might and kind of permeates the house.
I had a friend warn me not to adopt a kitten who is already sick, and now I realize why–you end up chasing down their illness and throwing lots of money at the problem without any real expectation that you’ll get to the bottom of it. My only consolation is that for the most part, she is still perfectly friendly and playful and eats and drinks just fine. The vet has pronounced her otherwise healthy and seems stumped (I grumpily wonder if it’s time to find a new vet after my fifth visit in two months with no answers). However, I fell in love with her the moment the shelter put her in my lap and told me her name was Daisy (my favorite flowers) and that she was born around April 21 (my birthday). She was soft and orange, just like my cat from my childhood, and was so inquisitive and purred so much even though she was sick that I just had to have her in the moment, without a thought for the consequences. (Note: it is also not advisable to go “look” at kittens when you are still in the throws of sorrow after a break-up. You will inevitably come home with at least one). I was in a raw place emotionally and pathetically told myself, sick kitties need homes and love too. Maybe more so than the healthy ones!
I’m glad I got her, but I do wish I could once and for all figure out what to do to make her feel better!
In other news, I did some minor research on writers and pets. Edith Wharton called her tiny dog a “heartbeat at her feet.” Ernest Hemingway had many cats and privileged their emotional honesty above human’s, stating, “A cat has absolute emotional honesty: human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not.” William S. Burroughs also had an orange tabby cat he called Ginger.
Mark Twain/Samuel Clemens said of cats, “Some people scorn a cat and think it not an essential; but the Clemens tribe are not of these” –and neither am I. This picture of him with a shoulder kitty killed me dead with adorableness.
I therefore like to think that puts me in good company.
Most writers I know have a furry friend who sits by their feet (or on their lap…or, let’s be honest, on their keys/paper…in Daisy’s case she sometimes tries to eat the paper I’m writing on) and provides comfort and distraction when necessary.
My fellow writer friends: do you have a pet and any funny stories about how they help/hinder your process?