Outside the Box

at 12:35 AM

Many years ago, I ran a small dog walking business.

Caring for other people's dogs and cats impressed upon me the high stakes of pet ownership. It has taken all of five years for me and my partner to take the plunge and adopt a cat. "We can do this!" we thought. "People do it every day!"

Mufasa's online profile sounded like just what we wanted: a twelve-pound, six-year-old male Maine Coon mix with a baritone meow, who uses the litter box faithfully.

Tom Jones is a baritone. What could be better?

Once Mufasa came home with us, we also learned that he loves sleeping on magazines and drinking from the faucet. When he's very content, he snacks on his right foot pad like it's a deep-fried fish. And when you pick him up he puts his paw firmly over your mouth, evoking Diane Wiest in Bullets Over Broadway. "Don't speak!" I imagine him saying in a dramatic whisper.

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At the first vet visit, I had quite a few questions for the doctor about kitty's consistently loose stool and runny eyes and sniffles and unquenchable thirst.

"Well," the vet finally said, "I'd say he's more like 10. He's only eight pounds, and... his intestines are pretty ropy. Let's run some tests."

Four months later, we've blown our annual cat budget on prescription food, the steroids and metronidazole for his IBD, and immunoboosters to prevent a third upper respiratory infection. He'll only use the litter box if we fill it with the expensive brand, which he goes through once a week due to his failing kidneys. We sleep far less, have racked up pretty significant credit card debt, and should replace the bathroom flooring after all of his accidents outside the box.

Still, the cost and worry and small catastrophes are overshadowed by the abundant pleasures of living with this quirky, spirited character of a cat. For all my threats to ship the old curmudgeon downriver, nothing beats coming home to his sweet grizzled face. And that deep throaty meow...

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With a Perspective, I'm Lindsey Grant.

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