Sophie Goes to the Vet

Today was Sophie’s annual vet visit. People often tell me that they don’t take their house-cats cats for regular checkups, nor do they see vaccinations as necessary. They’re probably right, all of them, because unless dust bunnies develop a transferable disease, Sophie’s exposure to rabies is almost non-existent. Cats WILL tell you if something is wrong, you won’t have to guess if they’re not feeling well (never went to bed and found your pillow drenched in urine, have you?).

Pretty Kitty
But Sophie is special, and we have to take her. She has to be up on her vaccinations or pet groomers won’t take her. But more importantly, Sophie needs low-Ph food (see pillow incident), which is available only by prescription. She’s an expensive little beast. Each year, Dr. Vet gives us a prescription for ONE MORE YEAR, a sort of ransom to make us come back (to avoid soggy bed pillows) next year.

Yes, Sophie’s bladder is a constant concern. This cat has the BEST personality, and Nick and I both admit that we would give plenty of paychecks to keep her with us as long as possible. However, Sophie loathes going anywhere. I read about other people taking their cats on car rides and I am jealous. My cat has an anxiety attack so bad that she wets herself, crying helplessly to go back home. (We have asked about kitty Valium, but they said it would just relax her muscles and she’d still wet herself.) I feel terrible about the anxiety it causes her, but she needs both regular professional grooming and veterinary visits.

This morning was no different from any other outing, and I felt the warm liquid soak through my shirt and jeans as I held Sophie while Nick opened the kennel cab. Oh, did I forget to mention that it’s always me that she pees on? Yeah, well…it was NICK’S pillow (it’s always been NICK’S side of the bed when she’s sick), so there. If Sophie does anything well, it’s sharing the wealth. I decided to ask Mr. Vet for suggestions on how to get her to calm the hell down.

His suggestion was was try holding her in my lap on the way to wherever we’re going (provided I’m not driving) with a lightweight harness—thinking that perhaps it’s the carrier that freaks her out since she calmed down enough for her shots with me petting her and talking to her. He gave us a slip leash to borrow for the ride home (slipped over her head and one of her front legs) to try. We live only minutes from the vet clinic, but halfway home, she had climbed halfway up my face. I struggled to restrain her; we have a muscular cat.

Even though she was fidgety, she wasn’t crying.

It was with cat belly all up in my nose and mouth that I asked, muffled and out of breath, “Sophie, is this less stressful for you? Because it’s a lot more stressful for me.”

But I’ll do it to stay dry. Damn cat. Damn lovable cat. Damn smart, entertaining, loyal cat! Damn!

Paths Crossing

I realize that life is cyclical, and it’s only natural to go through phases with the relationships in your life. That being said, I still wonder at the ebb and flows that draw people together then separate them, only to draw them together once more.

Families are interesting sometimes, but I had a best friend in my cousin Michelle.

We bonded very quickly in life, living only about 20 minutes away from each other and being less than a year apart in age (I am older by 10 months). Michelle and I spent many summer days playing from morning until night. We had dreams of becoming writers and shared a passion for Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Cordelia Anne (with an ‘e’!) Shirley and any heroine that Jane Austen ever penned—though I have only recently become acquainted with Catherine Morland (only at Michelle’s urging, since I am not a fan of Gothic novels and did not know what this story would hold along that vein).

We remained close through my first year away at college, and the first semester of her first year—but by that time, I was changing. I was making strides to no longer be a reactionary participant of my life but to have a part in steering it along. I was motivated by fear initially (a sharp pain in my 20-year old chest) but later the thrill of empowerment.

I think we all come upon that time in our life when the change that we know need most is more important than any of the reasons why we haven’t sought the change until that point. I hit mine shortly after I turned 20, and went off to live life, make mistakes, and take charge. Michelle and I grew apart.

While I went off to have adult relationships, join the workforce, and deal with the loss of a parent, she spent long years getting first her undergrad then her master’s degree. Returning to her parents’ home to live after finding that the job market was not favorable to the inexperienced (regardless of their education), Michelle hit her point.

The “point” is shorthand for there’s nothing left to now do but face what’s wrong.

I find myself in a reflective place as I watch her go through the same struggles and pitfalls that I endured almost a decade ago. All I can do is give her what I did not have: understanding. It has brought us inexplicably close again, after almost 10 years of distance. Part of me wants to step in and guide her around the same mistakes that I made, but another part of me knows that mistakes teach better than any university ever could.

We had pedicures together a few weekends ago—her suggestion—and it was great. For two people who grew up thinking that socializing involved consuming mass quantities of food, it’s nice to see that we are both actively trying to change our programming. She’s going through a difficult time right now, and I am so proud of her for turning to ways of coping other than food.

She is also a good influence on me as I am struggling through some health-related issues right now (and way too much stress at work), and it would be so easy to turn to the old crutch. Now I need to be good to myself so that I can be a support system and example for her. It occurs to me that this is perhaps how it should be, that people need to lean on each other instead of focusing so hard on being independent.

I am happy that the different paths that our lives have taken have crossed again. I think we’re now both in a place where we are ready to welcome and maybe even learn from our differences. How strange that I felt so empty several years ago, but now I am replete with love and companionship. Perhaps when you accept your own shortcomings, you accept that others can as well.

Here’s to you, Michelle: I applaud your strength and determination to change your life! You have my ear and my shoulder whenever you need them.