Thursday, March 25, 2010

Bathroom Monologue: Whiny Cat Wants

It would be a lie to say my sister has a cat. My sister has college and a boyfriend she'd much rather spend weekends off with than us. So really, we have my sister's cat. His name is Marshall and I'm pretty much his alpha male.

I have terrible allergies to pet dander, the kind that can be fatal if pushed too far. That meant my visits were infrequent and brief, running into the basement to leave it's food, then running back up. Sometimes I'd sit at the top stair and pet him with a rubber glove and thick jeans, so there was no way of dander getting on me.

In January I had a bad fall. I turned, it sounded like somebody snapped a glow stick and my left leg went out. Suddenly I wasn't go anywhere but the bathroom, and only there with the held of my desk chair's wheels.

That meant no more trips to feed or pet Marshall. Soon he got so lonely that he'd cry all day and night at the basement door. He didn't want to go outside. He'd eat if you gave him food, but I knew from experience that he wanted lasting entertainment. I'm not so sentimental that I thought he wanted companionship, but cats don't understand TV and can't text. When he wasn't napping, that had to be frustrating.

I spent a month frustrated myself, upstairs, fighting with the medical establishment. Can you see me then? Is there is a discount if? Yes I'd like to reapply for this? Can I twist this over there? How much is that surgery? How long will it be before I can put weight on it?

Two office visits, three Social Services visits, an X-Ray and an MRI later, I came home with the information that I should start physical therapy. Nothing was broken or torn and I had overreacted (actually they'd overreacted and I'd followed orders). Though I couldn't walk yet without crutches, I didn't go straight up to my room. I hobbled over to the basement door, where Marshal was already crying.

"I'm going to spend a minute here."

"Really?" Mom said with the little warmth of someone who's surprised but happy you're going to take the baby for an afternoon. She was the alpha female, in my reckoning.

I opened the door and he bolted down the stairs without looking. Maybe I'd opened it too suddenly.

It took a moment, but I sat on the top stair, crutches leaning on the door. There was no way I could get down these stairs, nor would I want to.

Hidden somewhere in the basement, Marshall cried and cried. I don't know if it was for help, attention, or just for someone to bring him more food. He does that.
I called down to him after every whine.

"Yes. I'm alive."

Sad howl.


Sad howl.


Sad howl.

"Get the fuck up here, Marshall."

Sad howl.

"Come on. You have one more minute and then I'm out of here."

More than a minute later he came back to the stairwell. He looked at me for about two seconds before hustling up the stairs. I don't know if he was relieved that I was alive after being gone for a month, or if he remembered that "fat guy sitting on stairs" is the symbol for "me getting petted."

I pulled on a latex glove and scratched behind his ears. He bowed his head immediately, so from there I scratched the top of his head, then rubbed down his spine. At his end, I squeezed his tail. That was our old routine. As soon as I let go he looked up me, eyes wide, in a very "Again! Again!" way. I assume if my sister ever has children, they'll look like that when I play with them. He was drooling with happiness in no time.

He tried to rub on me, which is horrible for my allergies. But I had the heavy jeans on, and decided I'd change out of them when I got to my room, so I let him. Marshall essentially headbutted my shins a dozen times. Just ramming himself into them and purring.

I even let him put his front paws on my lap, sort of climbing up me. When he reached up, I tickled under his chin. Soon he dropped down and sat happily between my legs. I closed them, hugging his sides. Mom cooed over my shoulder and said she wished she knew how to work her camera.

That night was the first since my accident that he didn't cry for attention at his door.

I've been congested for two days since then. It'll probably be a couple more before I come around. A couple more on top of that before I can breathe through my nose. It was worth it, though, even if he's crying again before I've recovered.

I've made great strides in recovery since then. Marshall and I spent half an hour together on the porch last night. Despite the open air and avoiding touching him, I'll probably be congested for weeks. Wait a second, he's whining...


  1. Awww, lovely story.

    Can you take allergy medication? I have a friend who receives injections so that she can keep her TWO cats.

    I know how miserable it is when one is congested from exposure to...anything, really.

    DC is bursting out with beautiful flowers, shrubs, trees, cherry blossoms. Anyone who's moved here knows the price to pay for living in this capital city!

  2. This really tugged my heartstrings. I miss my cats, and wish fewer people than "practically everyone I know" were deathly allergic to them.

  3. Glad some people enjoyed it! I can be nice, sometimes.

    As best I know my allergies are too severe to be inhibited by medication or injection treatments. The cats and dogs are the absolute worst for me. Plants get me stuffy, but animals can kill me.


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