Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sometimes a Greeting Card

Click here, then read.

A woman named Ms. Sparrow left a comment for me the other day, on the blog of course—where else would I get a personal note but on the Internet? She wrote, “I had a beautiful black cat named Leonard that I had to put down because of spraying the drapes and furniture. The final straw came when I was reading the newspaper and he jumped into my lap to be petted. I ‘pleasured’ him for a few minutes and then moved the paper between us to start reading again. A moment later, warm urine was running down the paper into my lap!”

This comment made me tilt my head: Hm, she pleasured her cat. After a couple seconds of furrowed brows and glancing eyes, I decided that Ms. Sparrow meant she just kept petting Leonard as any pet owner might, then he got all relaxed and peed. Maybe he was old. Maybe he was very young. Truth be told, I’ve been in that exact same position, and thankfully no one has put me down for it yet.

I have a very young cat—Leo, nine weeks today—whose instruction sheet I threw out a few days ago since obviously he works and I’m not sending him back. But I followed those instructions word for word, right down to the word “stimulate”, as in “stimulate his bottom so he pees and poops.” Stimulate his bottom? This idea was foreign to me until I found that if I didn’t do my part, Leo blew up like an inflated whale bladder. Something had to be done, and lacking the rough tongue of his biological mother, I used what was most accessible: my fingers, my rough fingers with dirt under the nails, manicure virgins, fingers that are as much used to planting flowers in pots as they are to putting grades on student papers. They could certainly be used to stimulate the nether region of my kitten, if it meant life or death.

So I did, to great reception. Oh, the pee and the poo. For at least three weeks I worked both as a teacher and as a litter box. It took the nice ladies at the Animal Hospital telling me that I could use a towel between me and Leo before I realized that I didn’t have to let him actually pee and poo on me. I wish I had realized that before compromising my Bruce Springsteen t-shirt and many other favorites, but what can you do. They all came clean in the end.


My mother often says, “You kids put up with more from your pets than I ever did with my children!” She says this with near-hysteria in her voice when my siblings and I talk about fur-ball slime, vomited piles of undigested food, missed litter boxes, bloody allergic reactions, and seizures. She was never one to clean up the biological messes of her children; that task was left to my dad after the one time my mom tried and ended up contributing in the sink.

God bless her for making it that far.

The world is changing. Click and Clack are gone, teachers in Arizona got a raise, my 50-year-old sister is becoming a nurse. I look over my shoulder at my four-year-old feline compatriots and can’t imagine life without them. I look ahead and can’t see my new kitten, who is hiding somewhere, fast asleep.

As far as pleasuring goes, who knows. It’s a dark-at-night secret, what moves some of us.

Today, on my new kitten’s nine-week birthday, I think of all the messy days when he was nursing from the bottle on my stomach, pooping on my bedsheets, and peeing on me and Bruce and—I’ll admit it—Mark too. (I ran out of t-shirts, baby—you’re still the best.) They were innocent days when people wondered what I had found, maybe a rodent. But then they loved him.

I get all glittery in my heart knowing that Leo is here somewhere. If anyone has greeted a child upon waking from a nap—Well hello there, it’s nice to see you, are you ready for a snack?—then your heart has been similarly stolen.

You know what it is to have favorites, and then different ones.


  1. I'm sorry you took Ms. Sparrow to task because you didn't understand her choice of words or her motivation.

    1. Hope you see my comment below--definitely meant no harm.

  2. "You know what it is to have favorites, and then different ones."

    Yes, and yes again. And also to know that, despite this, they all have their own place in one's heart.

    It's nice to see them all together!

  3. Oh now, Joanne, that was all in fun. I got the heart of Ms. Sparrow's message.