If you’ve been following my twitter stream you’ve probably already heard that one of my cats is diabetic. She’s fine, never actually got to the point where she was acting weird (which made figuring out what was wrong a bit difficult) but my brain has been pretty cat centered last couple weeks.
Chyna is the cat with diabetes. We’ve got her on special food and we’re giving her insulin injections twice a day (which I mind much more than she does). The vet shaved a patch on her back to make it easier for us at first, so now she looks like she’s got a sunroof. We couldn’t help laughing at her for the first couple days.
The drawing below is of Tricky, the other cat (because she’s the one who was finally willing to look at my phone and give me a good face photo). She added to the sick cat confusion by puking all over (just hairballs) just as Chyna got her infection so we took the wrong cat to the vet at first.
This week’s Illustration Friday is “Rescue.” The first thing I thought of was rescue animals, cats and dogs. (And since I’ve been sick this week, drawing a cat was an easy option.) Chyna was a rescue cat, Matt got her from a foster program before I met him. Tricky was also I suppose, just not officially. She was a pregnant stray when she adopted us.
We’ll probably always go with rescue cats, I’ve never really understood why so many people pay hundreds from breeders when there are so many unwanted cats in shelters. My friend Kim got a beautiful kitten from a shelter last year (Olive is lovable, though bitey, but that’s cats for you).
I kind of get it more with dogs. Breed plays into personality quite a lot, plus, no matter how much the experts say dogs are never too old to be retrained, it’s obvious early habits make a much bigger difference with an animal that can rip your throat out if it gets too scared. Abuse and poor training can really screw up a dog, while with a cat the worse you’ll get is a nuisance.
Rescue dogs can be a bit of a gamble, though the rescue dogs I’ve met have been wonderful, including a shepherd mix that probably saved my niece from a coyote when she was three (nope, not exaggerating). When we went to get Kim’s kitten, she was thinking she might get a dog instead.
We found an absolutely sweet 9 month old dog, a Pharoah Hound mix (I’d never heard of them) that was quiet and friendly, and seemed like she’d be a great pet for Kim. We asked at the desk if they thought she would make a good first dog, and we were told, regretfully, No.
The dog was “trained” on puppy pads, which means it had learned to go to the bathroom right on the floor, which is, you know, fantabulous. Also, the dog had chewed up every bit of wooden furniture in the house, while left alone all day as the owner woked.
That’s the tragedy of rescue animals. You get a fair number of animals like Chyna and Tricky, born strays from stray parents. You’ll find animals that are left behind when an owner dies, or becomes homeless, or just gets too old to care for it. Too often though, the pets you find in shelters are animals that are abandoned, or returned, because the ownder simply doesn’t want them anymore.
The cat isn’t as cute as it was when it was a kitten and it scratches up the couches, pees on the carpet. The dog is too much work, and it hasn’t been trained, so now it’s unmanagable, even dangerous. Sure, those that are abused or starved, those animals are far sadder. It’s so easy to justify taking back a “bad” animal. We forget that animals are living beings and not toys. Someone else will take them.
I have been a bad pet owner. Now Matt and I have cats that are such prizes it makes me cringe with regret. The drawing I did of tricky doesn’t express what a sniffy cat she is. If you’ve ever had a sniffy cat, you know what I mean. When we first got her she couldn’t figure out how to sit on a lap and now she’ll run to curl up with you as soon as you sit down. When I pick her up, she meows and struggles in complaint, but the whole time she purrs so loudly you can hear her across a room.
Chyna does everything timidly, primly, as though she’s made of glass, and you feel a bit like she is when you pick her up. When she’s upset she hides her face against you. At night when I brush my teeth, she likes to attack my socks. She is always utterly happy to be in the same room with us. It takes my breath away.