The medicine of caring for a being outside of yourself.
I read the Atlantic article about the $15k cat kidney replacements on the subway and cried.
Three days prior, I was in the parking lot of the Animal Emergency Center in Watsontown, PA waiting to admit Hero — my two year old tabby rescue — who started showing signs of a urinary infection that morning. A urinalysis, blood test, some antibiotics, and a couple hundred dollars later, humans and creature were headed home emotionally and physically drained, but otherwise fine.
Hero was not the cat that we were looking for. No, in December of 2020 we were seeking a little orange kitten, a ginger, or some variation there of (the best way to explain this search criteria is to say there are a humorous amount of redheads in our life and continuing the trend with a prospective cat would have been an inside joke that landed brilliantly). After months of stalking Whiskers-a-GoGo’s Instagram, a derpy, 4 month-old calico appeared, so I filled and submitted the adoption application nearly immediately. And, in the way of modern things, nearly immediate wasn’t enough. Another application had been accepted, but would we consider a 4-month old tabby instead? Aesthetics be damned, the answer, of course, was yes. Yes, yes, yes.
Part of the great beauty and mystery of life is the unknown factor of personality, a humanesque quality that applies wholly to the experience of adopting a pet. Those with actual human children can attest, and those with cats — or dogs, birds, horses, rabbits — know too what it’s like to be intimately acquainted with a personality outside of your own. There is a saying about "not getting to choose your family" that applies here as well: while we knew we wanted a cat, we did not know what kind of cat we were going to get. We did not know he would play fetch, or prefer to drink water that has been freshly drawn from the tap. Or that he would anxiously watch us pack our suitcases and set them by the door, in a pensive, quiet way that tells us he knows travel is imminent. The list of quirks goes on, the depth of personality far deeper than the word pet can contain.
This lacking of language is exactly the rub, as Sarah Zhang writes:
Our very language is inadequate: They are not simply property, as pet owner implies, nor are they fully equivalent to children, as pet parent implies. They occupy a space in between. What do we owe these animals in our care—these living creatures that have their own wants and wills but cannot always express them? And what does what we think we owe them say about us?
I do not know if I would do the kidney transplant, this is partially why I am crying. But when I think back to how we dropped everything and rushed to the clinic, I recognize the desire to do something, to prevent even one small disaster in a world of seemingly endless disaster. All so Hero can go on living a charmed life, napping in the front window bed, perking his ears to the sound of my keys as I walk down the block, suck back the tears, and rush up to meet him.
Tis the season:
This little piece about crying on public transit, which is totally on point, and published by a publication named after a bridge you can sort of see from my house. Source: the excellent Haley Nahman. Starting Dan Ozzi’s SELLOUT, which is a bit of a trigger word for me. But speaking of My Chem…
Saw L.S. Dunes at Music Hall of Williamsburg and wrote about it for NYLive.
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