I put the cats in to the compartment in my head labeled "Try to keep Alive". In the compartment titled "Definitely Keep Alive" I have my three human children. I figure that it's best to go about things this way because when our kids need to be vaccinated, I can be sure that they won't have whooping cough, or measles, where as our cat might get feline AIDS and that's something I can live with.
So Dalton and Shelby are assigned to "cat care" in our house. They earn allowance for this. I check out the job that they are doing. If the basement stinks, I know that they are slacking on the litter. If the cats are trying to get at the tuna I am fixing, I know that they are slacking on the food. If the cats are drinking out of the toilet, I know that they are slacking on water. Pretty simple.
Kids get to learn responsibility and keep their cats that we've hesitantly (and stupidly) adopted while I get to maintain a little more of my sanity with only three living beings to keep alive, instead of six.
So back to the Vet slash Cleaners. I am in a room with my daughter, whom I have brought because in her words she either wants to be a Vet, The President of The United States, or both... and the two stupid cats. One I have brought in because it is obese and it looks like it may have fleas or something nappy growing in it's Bob Marley-styled dread cat hair. The other I have brought in because it is underweight and refuses to eat anything other than caviar or stinky wet cat food.
Secretly I am hoping that they are both in the late stages of some fatal cat disease, for which there is no known cure. I can barely understand what the doctor and nurse are saying. Yes, we get two vets for the price of two at our vet appointments. They have taken the cats out and examined them. They are asking me questions about the cats' hygiene and behavior. I think that it would be great to have Shelby answer some of the questions, because I want to get her comfortable with talking to adults who are authority figures. But soon I realize that it is almost necessary because I have no idea what the answers are to any of their questions.
You mean I am supposed to know how many times a day Skinny Cat is peeing? Seriously, I don't even know how many times a day my own kids are peeing, or how many times I AM PEEING, let alone one of my cats. Plus, their litter box has one of those privacy tops on it, and it's in a room where no one can see them...isn't that THE POINT?! But lo and behold, Shelby knows.
How much energy this cat has in relation to the others? Shelby informs us that she has as much energy but she is more nervous than the other cats. The vet nods, to let Shelby know that this is valuable information. How she eats her food? My answer: with her mouth. But Shelby lets the vet know that she drops some of her food on the floor, which I guess makes the vet think that she could have a disease of the mouth. Suddenly things are looking up for us!
The Vet takes Skinny Cat and opens her mouth. She then uses some tool to probe inside the cat's mouth. Then she makes some notes on her doctor-looking pad. Shelby grins at me in anticipation. She is hoping that the mouth-issues are a sign that our skinny cat is expecting a litter of kittens. No such luck for either of us. Not death or pregnancy. Instead, cat gingivitis.
The Vet tells us that she would like to see Skinny Cat again for a full dental exam. This is when a rational, healthy person would have said, "WHAT THE?!" and burst out laughing. But in my head cold induced delirium, I could hardly process what she was saying, let along make sense of it. I knew that her lips were moving, and sound was coming out, but I was hearing words like "molar extraction" and "pre-medication narcotic injection" so I just assumed that I was hallucinating because there is no way that those words have anything to do with a cat, right?
But then it got worse, because she whips out some cat toothpaste, and tells me that I need to start brushing Skinny Cat's teeth twice a day, morning and night. You're kidding. I think that there are days when Shelby's teeth only get brushed once. Garrett probably has never had his teeth brushed in his life. His tongue, hair, belly and ears- yes. But on the actual teeth...it's iffy. And now I am supposed to brush my cat's teeth? Even worse, not with a toothbrush, but with gauze on my finger. Um yeah...let me tell you what the temperature in hell would need to look like before I performed that chore.
She sees that I am not buying this, so she turns to Shelby and asks if Shelby would like to do it. Shelby practically jumps out of her skin she is so excited to perform this twice daily "vet-like" chore. So they show her how to do it, but then they stress to me, "You must watch her do it because only 10% of dog bites turn out to be infectious, but 90% of cat bites are." Oh great, so my stupid cat will be tartar free, but my daughter may have a serious infection as a result. That makes the whole thing even more appealing to me. I secretly plan on just chucking the toothpaste on our way out the door...except that Shelby has it clutched against her chest with a big grin spread across her face.
Turns out that Fat Cat is just fat. His hair is just nappy...no bugs. The Vet gets out her clippers and charges us more for that hair trim than I paid for my last bang trim. Luckily there is nothing wrong with him. We're supposed to give him less food and we could add a fish oil supplement to his food every day to help with his flea looking dandruff. No thanks. The day that I remember to take my supplements is the day that I'll start making sure my cat gets his. He goes back in to the duffel bag that we brought him in because we could only find one cat carrier.
I nod when the Vet tells me that I should schedule this "emergency" dental visit for Skinny Cat right away. Sure, I am thinking...I'll get right on that. She tells me that they'll test for some diseases now so they know if there are any immune problems to be aware of. When she says this, I assume "We'll test for some diseases" means that the "we" is HER. But as she is walking us to the front desk her nurse hands us a little vile and tells me to get the sample back within a week. "Say whuh?"
I guess that when they say that they'll test for diseases, they mean they'll test her scat. And when it comes to getting her scat, I guess that falls on my shoulders. The nurse tells me how to break apart the poop and put it in the container. I am thinking that I must be hallucinating again, because there is no way I am going anywhere near my cat's poop, let alone breaking it apart. Maybe if the cat had swallowed my wedding ring, but even that scenario is iffy.
I just nodded again. Where do I sign? How do I get out of here? Shelby has struck up a conversation with the receptionist, on the pros and cons of getting a golden-doodle, verses a poodle, verses a whoodle. It's like being in a bad Dr. Seuss dream. I don't even look at the invoice. They shaved off two nappy pieces of hair from one cat, looked at the other's teeth, and stuck a thermometer in each one's ass. How much could it have really been?
Let's just say, if I wouldn't have been near death with my cold, I would have after I looked at this bill.
The icing on the cake was being woken up at 7:00 AM on a Saturday morning by Shelby with toothpaste and gauze in hand, whispering in my ear that "We neeeed to brush Lulu's teeth!" Oh yes, motivation to wake up on a cold winter like April weekend morning. The teeth brushing was just as lovely as I'd imagined.
Fatty being taken out of the carrier by the nurse
Shelby and Fat Cat
Shelby smiling after she's heard that she gets to brush Skinny Cat's teeth twice a day. The toothpaste is behind her...oh joy.