Wednesday, July 22, 2009
I Want to Speak Cat
One of my ten-year-old cats needs medication every other day. It's a steroid that helps with his allergies, but has subsequently made him stronger and stronger until each of the usual pill-giving techniques has failed.
(He's never been the type of cat that we can trick him by giving a pill in cheese or his food or with a treat--he just doesn't eat them then.)
It started with simply sticking him between my legs, popping open his mouth, and stuffing the pill down his gullet. While this worked for quite awhile, his back legs became strong enough for him to slip from my grip and wriggle himself free.
Next, I had to create a cave by straddling him--as if I had confused him for a mighty stallion--then tipping his head back, and giving him his pill. However, his growing strength heightened his wriggling abilities, and he inevitably freed a paw or two, clawed my hand to ribbons, left me bleeding, and him without his pill.
A blanket was used next, wrapping him up tight as a Christmas package, leaving nothing but his head poking out. But by now, after months of giving him these steroids, the things have strengthened even his jaws and--of all things--his tongue. I'd pop the pill into his mouth and it shot back out, like in a cartoon, as if some tiny creature hid in his mouth with a pill gun. My cat had gotten so good at launching these things that I didn't even have time to clamp his mouth shut. And if he wasn't using his tongue, he used his teeth, biting into me whenever I got my fingers too close to his mouth.
I want to be able to just speak in the off-color meows of his own tongue. I want to tell him that this is what helps him feel better. This is what keeps him from tearing out his hair, from looking like a stray. I want to tell this that I'm doing this out of love, because I want what's best for him. But my throat can't echo his sounds, and my anger bubbles, and my frustration broils, and a grab him by the scruff of his neck, wanting to scream and shout to just take the stupid pill.
His mouth stretches when I hold him by the back of his neck, and his lips are parted just enough for me to push the pill between his docile teeth, then close his mouth and tip his head back, holding it shut until he swallows.
And when he walks away, I feel no happiness, no joy at his consuming the very thing that has made him so healthy, so strong. I feel empty, because I have to do this again and again and again and again...