Which is why when I found a lump on his head this past Wednesday, my heart sank. In my line of work, lumps on heads do not seem to bode well. So Thursday afternoon, I took him in to be seen. Well, it turns out, being lackadaisical about whether he snuck outside when the weather was nice wasn’t such a good idea. Something bit him. It also turns out I should have been more diligent about getting him his annual rabies shots.
The vet told me the state’s recommendation for a bite of unknown origin (B.O.U.O.? perhaps from an R.O.U.S.?) inflicted on an animal without up to date shots is for that animal to be put down. Now, had we been talking about his washrag of a personality sister, Doris, perhaps this news would have been less upsetting. Because while I cannot choose favorites amongst my children, I feel comfortable doing so between my cats and frankly, she could go. But, as no luck at all would have it, Boris was the one sitting on the chopping block. My vet went on to say that my alternative is to keep said cat quarantined for six months, either in a cage or in a room by himself. So I put him down.
Of course I didn’t, but had someone told me this story, especially someone with three small children in their home, I would have thought them a complete idiot for choosing to keep the animal alive and told them so. Well, Boris is worth it is all I can say. Not worth my children getting rabies, of course, but worth keeping alive to give him a chance to prove his uncontaminated-ness.
Now I find it terribly upsetting to see an animal larger than a hamster confined to a cage. It just feels wrong. So I started him off in the basement with the cat door taped off. I put him down there, shut the door and he didn’t move. He was like Bill Murray in What About Bob? He just stood there and waited. When I opened the door an hour later, he was still there. And once he realized the tape wasn’t going anywhere the meowing started. That heart wrenching, “why are you doing this to me?” meow that he usually reserves for confinement in the pet carrier. I tried to go about my regular life but even my two year old, Charlie, couldn’t stand it. He kept pointing at the door saying, “cat!” which probably translates to, “mom, the cat hates that, let him out.” As Charlie is my most recent caged animal (I am referring to his crib, obviously, no need to look for the Children and Youth number!) I believe the cat’s predicament might have struck a nerve.
Regardless, my mother-in-law took pity on Boris’s plight and has lent me a cage to keep upstairs where we bipeds spend our days. I believe she has taken in every stray within a 20 mile radius of her home so not only is she no stranger to poor feline souls, but she happens to have the equipment on hand for times like these.
Now I personally didn’t think the cage would be a better alternative. If I were the cat, I’d pick the basement. But, the meowing has stopped. So either learned helplessness has kicked in, or he can tolerate this situation better now that he has us people milling about and keeping him company. I happen to assume the former, so I can’t look him in the eye anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I’m doing my best to overcompensate by petting him often and giving him treats but I can’t help but imagine he feels completely betrayed and depressed.
To be clear, I recognize I am assigning human responses to a non-human being but it’s all I know. I’d probably be handling this better if I had a minor in cat psych rather than human, but I don’t think the university I attended offered that course. Well, maybe in the animal science building but that was completely on the other side of campus.
I take Boris back to the vet this Thursday to make sure the bite wound on his head is healing properly and doesn’t require surgery. I am also bringing his sister to get her shots updated; guilt shots, if you will. At least I have managed to stay up to date on shots for my three monkeys (aka, my children). Fortunately, though, the only bites they seem to get lately are from each other.