After years of being around her, she still growled and swatted at my intruding feet when I walked too closely. She tolerates being petted around her neck, but only fools accidentally stray below her head - a sudden hiss and bite await these encroachments. And I like cats... at least I used to.
When I married recently, I knew this cat was part of my wifes household.
Abby is crazy about my wife, but even she is not allowed to touch this cantankerous animal any old place. Among our visiting friends, Abbys inhospitality is legendary.
A couple of weeks ago, Abby stopped eating due to a physical disorder and lost much of her body weight. After considering all options, my wife decided to spend hundreds of dollars to surgically place a temporary feeding tube in the cats stomach. I questioned the wisdom of prolonging this older cats life. I didnt express my doubts, though, because I know how much my wife loves that grouchy cat.
As fate would have it, my wife left town on a pre-arranged extended vacation about the same time we were stuck with an invalid cat. Who do you think is now responsible to force-feed Abby five times a day through a tube in her stomach? Aaaaruuugh. What did I do to deserve this?
My life suddenly revolved around caring for a cat that didnt like me. Daily, I was required to spend at least three hours filling syringes, feeding, cleaning up, and generally attending to Abby. My dogs never needed three hours of care in any month, never mind a day.
In the beginning, each feeding was a disaster. While Abby squirmed, I squirted soft cat-food from the syringe on the walls, in her fur, on my clothes... everywhere but in the targeted feeding tube. Of course, while I cussed up a storm, Abby tried to run and hide - making the job infinitely more difficult. I came close to asking my wife to cut her vacation short. I thought, Come home immediately, Abby is YOUR cat.
I did feel sorry for Abby, though. She was forced to wear a plastic cone on her head, a big bandage around the stomach area, and hang out in a cage most of the day. Yet, she rarely complained.
As time passed, she actually was happy to see me when she left the cage at night. After a couple of days, Abby and I got used to the feeding routine. She seems to have sensed that I am trying to help her and has begun to purr during each perfunctory feeding. You know, Abby is a pretty good cat, after all.
Despite what she has been through and her weakened condition, Abbys spirit remains indomitable. After leaving her cage, she often walks up to our other pets and looks them in the eye, as if to say, You still have to deal with me, buddy. She marches around the house with her head held high, visiting her usual spots, refusing to give up. Abby has become my hero.
As I finish this column on the computer, my beautiful little kitty is curled up, upside down on my lap, sleeping away the morning. Now that Abby and I have bonded, my returning wife will be surprised to find she is no longer needed to care for the cat.
You see, Abbys welfare is far too important for me to entrust with anyone else.