I used to have this cat named Zuzu. I’m pretty sure Zuzu was mentally ill. She was a very nervous cat and very, very fat. Like, unquenchable hunger fat. She’d meow and meow for food in the morning and actually kind of snort with excitement on her way to her (and her sister’s) food bowl.
The most disturbing part of her existence was taking her to the vet. It was consistently a traumatic experience for everyone involved. Most of the time she hissed, spit, and bit so much that the vet just gave her a once-over and said, “She looks good to me! All set! See you next year!” So, we began sedating her prior to her visits, which if you have a cat, you know how easy it is to deliver a pill into one.
We’d finally wrestle bits and pieces of a pill into her foamy-with-anger cat mouth and soon enough she’d get a little drowsy and wobbly but would still put up a good fight at the vet’s office. After finally biting one of the vet techs, a visit from Animal Control prompted us to try larger pills. She became adept at willing herself to right the wrongs of the medication. And it worked. Somehow she’d still hiss and growl and straight-up poo on the table under the influence of equine-sized doses of sedative.
It’s no wonder her pancreatic cancer crept up and brought us all to our knees in a matter of weeks. She probably spent months willing it away. She went from a nervous, flitty, skittish, fat cat to a much smaller version unable to get out of her pet bed to pee.
On her last day, I stayed home with her and she sat very quietly on my lap and just purred; too sick to move. She was like a fire-breathing dragon that had completely switched into smolder-mode. I’ve never had to put a pet down; she was my first. Strangely enough, that day was the beginning of a series of deaths (symbolic and otherwise) in my life, but I think in the moment she passed, she transferred some of that fire-breathing will to me.
A couple of years later I’m sitting in my doctor’s office telling her that all the homeopathic and natural supplements I’ve been on for the last six months just aren’t pulling me out of the choppy sea of anxiety like I’d hoped they would, and that I needed some bigger guns.
In that moment, I literally realized, and voiced to her like a complete lunatic, that I’m like Zuzu. My brain, just like Zuzu’s, kept recalibrating to fight the supplemental intruder. This interloper was bringing normalcy and calm to a body accustomed to fighting and flighting and threatening control of the brain’s domain. Luckily, I don’t poo on tables or bite people to get my point across although I have been known to hiss on occasion. Thankfully, the big guns are called that for a reason. They work.
In honor of NaBloPoMo.