Among the myriad other issues our beloved Calico friend brings with her, she is the apogean of what we might call a Fraidy Cat. In fact, both she and her sister qualify. Even as members of a notoriously wary species, these two set the figurative statistical high end of the curve. They are afraid of, in hierarchical order: people, fireworks, the sound of motorcycle engines, thunder, our stereo system, children screaming while at play across the street, barking dogs, my wife’s singing, squirrels sitting in the front window (really a love/hate thing), strange noises, my sneezes, a good stiff breeze, their reflections in a mirror, anything and everything unfamiliar, and long division. Alright, the last one might be mine. If this list were complete our splotchy furry might not take the prize. The idiosyncrasy that takes her over the top, though, is that she will not eat her morning or evening meals unless my wife stands guard, “watching her back” as it were, without saying a word, or moving in any way, or breathing.
On the rare occasion that I feed the cats, the Calico looks around furtively, licks up the gravy of her wet food, nibbles on a few morsels, then slinks away to the dining room. Even when my wife feeds them, if she moves or tries to, say, rinse out a bowl to put in the sink, the cat scurries away. If I happen to sit in the kitchen, if I speak or my wife speaks or if we try to whisper, the cat scurries away. If the television is on with the sound on and there is a loud noise in a particular program, the cat scurries away. If that motorcycle one of our neighbor owns roars by while she eats, the cat scurries away. In short, we must have complete silence with my wife standing soundless attention behind her if we want any chance at our fraidy cat eating a complete meal.
Most of the year this behavioral quirkiness annoys us mildly but we endure it because of the fun-loving affection, the occasional unrestrained purring, the cute sleeping positions, and general love we feel for her. The issue takes on a whole new sinister dimension when we need her to eat in order to administer medication. I have pilled cats. I have even used a dropper to deliver necessary medications. With most cats, it is an unpleasant process for all concerned, but manageable. This cat, however, fights taking in medication. She chokes and gags and forces the medicine down her chin. The part that really gets me, though, is that not once, when we tried using a dropper, when we need to restrain her to look at her paws, not once has she ever used her claws. They are razor sharp and she could easily damage us for putting her in such discomfort. Most cats would. This contrary, stubborn, loving Calico will not cooperate if we try to medicate her and she will not hurt us for trying. In fact, within a few minutes she comes back, rubbing on my leg looking to move past the incident. That part really gets me.
So morning and night my wife mixes chicken flavored Torbugesic, antihistimines, Orbax in the evening, along with some gravy from the wet food into a solution and then stands rock solid behind our allergic kitty with the frayed paw pads hoping that no stray sounds disrupt the proceedings. I sit quietly in another room, television muted, waiting. I know it went well when the cat trots in to find me afterward for a few scritches behind the ears. Hers, not mine.