On Tuesday morning, Bubba was acting weird. He skittered up and down the stairs for no particular reason. He stood at the foot of the bed, making eye contact with me, and emiting a slow, strange meow. It had extra syllables. Meeee-owwww-rrrr.
There are only two reasons why my cat gets like this, and I was pretty sure I knew which one was to blame. On Sunday night, I had returned from Austin to discover that not only had my cat vomited but he also sported a ring of blood around his anus. I called Jennifer, who told me it was probably just a stress reaction and prescribed a paste for his tummy, but of course I was going to worry, and of course I was going to spend the next three days sifting through the litter box like I was panning for gold and lifting up his tail to spy underneath, and other invasions of privacy that come with caring for another living creature. I understood vomit and constipation as early warning signs of some medical emergency that usually ended in tears and fluid injections at the vet’s. I wanted to avoid that fate if I could.
So I decided to take action. I pinned him down in the kitchen and administered a baby enema, and it shows you how far I’ve come that I could do so while staying calm and unblinking. “Growing old ain’t for sissies,” Bette Davis once said, and while she wasn’t talking about inserting a lubricated tube into the clenching poop hole of your 15-year-old tabby, the aphorism still applies.
But oddly, constipation didn’t seem to be his problem. He ran to the litter box every 10 minutes afterward — glycerine swirling through the rectum will do that — but nothing substantive emerged. Had I read this wrong? Had I been mistaken? After 10 years, I feel utter confidence in my ability to communicate with my cat. He tells me things. And that Tuesday, he was definitely telling me something was wrong.
Like I said before, there are only two reasons why my cat gets like this: When he’s constipated, and when there’s a big storm coming.
Oh, wait a minute. I looked out the window, at the rumbling sky.
Three hours later, a tornado hit.
These are the stories of pet owners who love too much. Bubba had given me the early warning signs of a terrible storm, and I stuck an enema up his ass. He had diarrhea all afternoon. As the sky clashed outside, thunder shaking the home we share, he curled up on my bedroom floor. When I went in to check on him, he stared at me, calm and unblinking. He did not make a sound, but I read his message loud and clear: You suck.