I DON’T want to be sedated.

Not so fun Fun Fact: Cats can fight through medical sedation?

Apparently, yes they can. On chemo visit 3, Birdie, in true Birdie badass style, fought through sedation twice. They did not steal her blood and she did not receive chemo that day because she was not fucking having it. Not today, Satan!

I suspected something was up when I did not get the normal call saying that bloodwork was done and she was good for treatment that day. Instead I got a midafternoon call saying that Bird had fought through and been brought out of sedation twice, and that they could not hit a vein get a blood draw much less a vein to safely administer chemo. I’ve always considered her to be a feisty redhead which may be part of her sedation issue, but she had been extra vocal in the car that morning despite the normal pre-vet dose of gabapentin  to chill her out, and the attending doctor said that sometimes cats are super motivated to fight the sedation when “they know what’s coming.” I could see that. Bird is no dummy, but her attitude can get in the way sometimes. There was a tearful moment at my desk after the call, because I was frustrated and worried for her as well as exhausted with the end of the school year and managing her treatments. No treatment that day meant we had to go through it all again the next week. (My cats are my kids, but there is still a certain shame in asking someone else to cover a class because I have to drop my cat at her appointment, talk to the doctor, and then drive 25 minutes to get to school that day. Better yet was the email asking an admin not to schedule me to proctor a standardized test because of a treatment day. The one good thing about COVID was that by spring of this school year, very little phased anyone.)

However what I got back was an insanely high little creature with four shaved and bloody legs. It made me wonder if she had pulled a tech who was not good at blood draws. It reminded me of the nurse at Blonde Doctor’s office who tried both arms then went back for a third try and wiggled the needle around for good measure, all the while yapping about her teenaged son. At try number 3, I had to lay down and say, “Just take whatever you want. I’ll be laying here.” That visit ended with me in the lab with the phlebotomist and a juice box after. So I had much more sympathy for my little girl who may have had to deal with fools that day. I rinsed Birdie’s legs and purr-ittoed her because I was not going to make her lick that much of her own blood off her little leggies.

Recovering from that visit required a solid 24 hours in the closet in the “I feel icky” spot sniffing my shoes.

Round 2 of treatment 3 was the next week. We changed her Gabapentin dose slightly, and the attending doctor (this is a teaching hospital so we see someone different each visit) made an extreme effort to give Birdie the royal treatment and her own space. Things went much better that day, many vet students now have pictures of my cat in “her office”, and Birdie has cemented her reputation.

After a better treatment 3 and a happier high cat. I found the shirt on Amazon.

That incident aside, Birdie has tolerated chemo very well -KNOCK ON WOOD-and had minimal side effects other than just needing to relax the next day. Her appetite, energy, and bathroom habits have been amazing. A re-scan did not show any evil growths. This month was Treatment 5, her last chemo session. She got a bandana signed by the staff; cats do not want to ring cancer bells or any bells really. She has one more surgical hurdle and then it’s all about monitoring from there.

If you needed a cat, I had a spare.

You know that fantasy about finding a kitten? Like one magically appears in your yard and it’s the perfect age so it doesn’t need the mother cat anymore. It’s healthy as can be so it’s not going to die as soon as you name it. Also it’s just as quirky and special, but well behaved as all your other cats who accept it as one of the clowder. It just needs a home. Your home. That fantasy? (I cannot be the only person who thinks things like “wouldn’t it be amazing if I found a kitten right now?”)

My fantasy came true and I screwed it up hard! To the point that I discussed with a friend whether or not I was missing a message from the universe because “when the universe gives you a kitten….” you’re supposed to lean into it.

I blame Birdie. She was the one who spotted her.

Birdie was relaxing on my bed more or less unsupervised for the first time in weeks because she had just had her sutures removed from her feline mastectomy, so she was cleared to jump and cat again. I was in and out folding laundry or something exciting like that because whhhooohooooo it was spring break! It was also April Fool’s Day which did not occur to me at the time. but seems important now. (The universe is sending you a cat! HAHA April Fools) I saw Birdie alert to something out the window so, of course, I looked too. A small cat was emerging from under the fence. I tapped on the window and we all made eye contact. Is kitty!

Because I am an idiot, I walked through the house to the garage and opened the side door. Through cat witchcraft, the small cat immediately materialized on the doorstep, bounced into the garage, climbed me like a tree, drooled in my ear, and promptly broke my heart with her love.

The first 5 minutes. Yes, I changed my outer layer to throw off the other cats.

I texted all the crucial people the video of the cat rubbing her personal stink all over me with the all important question: “Well, what the fuck do I do now?” I posted a non-explicit video in my neighborhood Facebook group thinking that this healthy looking, loving little girl had to be somebody’s Torbie baby. Across the board, they all came back with: “You have a cat now.”

No, I had 5 cats now which made even me a little nervous. My theory is that my yard grows calico based cats. It just takes about 10 years in between each one. Birdie showed up in the yard when she was about one. I can’t help but look at that splotchy nose marking and consider the connections.

However I had invited the cat in like a tiny snuggly vampire and it was now late at night and because it was Ohio, there had actually been snowflakes earlier that day. I could not toss her out the door if I ever expected to live with myself. Small Cat ***spent her first night in the garage in a nest on top of my recycling so she wasn’t directly on cold concrete. She did not vocalize which played into my theory that she was street smart, but had a gigantic purr. She ate and drank heartily. When I set up a litterbox for her, she immediately took the longest cat pee ever while maintaining eye contact and telling me that she had been running through yards looking for a bathroom. She was really glad that I had one she could use.

***Here’s the thing. I named her in my head. I thought her name all the damned time, but I never said it because if I solidly named her, then she was absolutely staying. The vet referred to her as Found Cat on all her paperwork. I called her Small Cat at home as in “You guys, (the other cats) what did you do with the small cat?” and “Small cat, your booty smells musty. Take care of that.”

Because the most likely outcome was that I did indeed have a fifth cat who would be interacting with my other cats, we headed to the vet the next day where I invested money in some tests and round one of vaccinations. The vet pronounced her healthy; loving, but not in heat; and roughly a year old. We scheduled for a spay appointment at the end of the month. If she stayed that long and I paid for the spaying, she in the family for sure. Small Cat moved to my small bathroom where she chilled happily for about 24 hours because the shots knocked her for a loop.

In the mean time I had started in on her adoption campaign partly because I was a little stressed and partly because the socially acceptable amount of cats plus middle aged single female is one cat and after that you just become a stereotype that people “worry about.” Aside from the peer pressure, I was also looking at finances and the mental health of the other cats who got along and did not feel compelled to lodge complaints in the form of peeing on things. Birdie had just had an operation and we were heading towards her first chemo treatment which was, of course, more expensive than estimated. Additionally, I had no idea how she would handle the chemo, but I did know that she would be the least tolerant of a new addition to the household. Birdie gave me a demo of her feelings when, despite my best barricading efforts, Small Cat escaped her new residence the spare bedroom.

Note the tiny toes. This door does not latch.

Apparently when cats meet their doppelganger, the space time continuum gets screwy and nothing good happens. Birdie briefly nose booped Small Cat and then went from perfectly silent to full jungle cat scream! I’ve heard Birdie scream about may things over the years, but this was a terrifying new level. Small Cat dropped into a tiny ball, I scooped her up, and we ran for cover.

Birdie vs Small Cat

At the other end of the spectrum, Miles was like, “Hello, you are a lady so I am down. More importantly, I understand that food is being brought into this room so I want to monitor that situation. Beyond that, please have a nice day.”

Olivia and Sookie landed somewhere in the middle alternating between hissy and curious. Small Cat was on lock down while I was out of the house, but by about the fourth night, had the run of the house from when I got home until the next morning when I left. This is not an ideal cat introduction time line, but I also value sleep and if she wasn’t quietly crying and banging on the door, Miles was opening it from the other side just fuck with me. So in the evenings, I got to watch her attempt interactions and explore the house. She would start at one end of the room and then seconds later meerkat up at the opposite end( cat witchcraft!) Eventually she would settle in to hang out with me because I was the most amazing person she knew.

She’s in to middle aged women, old cd racks, and tattoos.

She even offered to help with bedtime reading, but Birdie shut that down pronto.

She’s a pro! Look at that form!

Possible adopters came up and fell through. I wavered between stress that she would be staying and relief that she would be staying. I was confident that her loving and sweet personality would ultimately blend with my crew, but Birdie’s level of stress and expenses were still a concern.

I’ve been looking at dates on pictures while writing this. Small Cat was only in my house for 10 days! Just 10! At the time it felt like forever because I wasn’t sure of her fate or what I should do. The day her adopters came to meet her, every cat in the house was completely calm and accepting of her the whole morning. Even now I have some regrets, but I know she found a good home.

Ultimately a connection was made through a friend. A young couple was looking for a companion for their two year old cat. Small Cat was uncertain about them which did not help my state of mind much. I had not thought about the fact that I was the only human she knew and certainly new people in the house were scary. She retreated to her room, but the couple was willing to spend time sweet talking her and offering toys to introduce themselves. I got a report back that their cat immediately started following Small Cat around and there was some snuggling. I’ve allowed myself to ask my friend for an update only once, and reportedly things were going well.

When they left with her, I cried and vacuumed for an hour. I don’t know how fosters do it. She took up so much of my mental and emotional head space for the time she was with me then tore me up when she left. I guess if you are fostering through a shelter, there’s a bit more certainty to the process and you know the end goal. I cannot praise enough the fosters who are able to open their homes, hearts, and minds to regularly connecting with animals so they can find their furever homes.

Day 9: Just trying to watch tv.

The Nerve!

MomBert came to visit for the first time in forever. We’re both vaccinated so we had a full day of licking walls and hugging strangers planned. We spent the evening eating glorious local pizza and watching the movie Tag. She was amused.

Sookie joined us in her current TV watching spot. She has taken to confidently joining me on the couch for evening television. I am even allowed to pet her. Partly though, she is waiting for me to go to bed after warming up the fuzzy blanket I use. If I come back out, I’ll find Sookie sitting where I was sitting.

I thought it was very brave of her to assume her normal position even though MomBert was in my regular spot. I watched as MomBert reached out and petted Sookie as one should do when watching a movie with a cat.

The horror. The nerve!

How dare she!

The look of disdain on her face. Sookie is going to have to lick all the fur off her back side now.

GET. UP.

The GET. UP. series is an art project/ protest piece that the cats are working on.

It digs into the impact of alarm clocks in cat lives and how human time is a ridiculous structure. At the heart of cat lives there is only meal time and that is something sensed and ingrained through a oneness with the universe.

While all of them participate in their own way, Miles seems to take the lead in exploring different approaches to the subject matter and curating photos.

Some for later

I provided a lovely couples brunch (they used to consistently share from the same plate), and Miles decided to save some for later. He used an entire cat blanket. Time for laundry.

I had to look this up. I’d always assumed the covering of leftover food was a negative review of my cooking. The internet claims that it’s instinctual to hide it from predators and maybe save some for later.