Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Simple Gifts

When our cats leave us hairballs (or worse) on the floor (or worse), we refer to these deposits as "gifts with purchase," à la Clinique Bonus Time in department stores. We paid for the cat, so whatever else we get along with it is our Free Gift.

It sounds better than "hairball," doesn't it? And we like to think that it reflects the spirit of the cat in making this very personal donation to our decor.

This is off-topic, but look how small and kittenish Toffee and Harris were, exactly a year ago today.

Today was Bonus Day. I had gone to bed around 2 this morning and didn't sleep well. Around 8, I heard strange sounds in the bathroom. I put on my glasses and peered from my cozy spot under the covers, and saw something on the little Persian carpet. I figured it was a Toffee hairball, and looked forward to using my feline forensics skills to hunt for criminal evidence. That is, I transfer the mess to a baggie and smoosh it all around under strong light, hoping to spot foreign objects, including but not limited to: flecks of gold fiber, bits of nylon cord, our vet tech's rubber hairband, and shards from five Christmas tree bulbs. (I also lost my favorite comb recently. Even the old Toffeepot couldn't swallow that, but if he bit off and ate a few of its teeth, it wouldn't surprise me. It's hard for him to shock me with his creative definitions of "food" now.)

I got up to investigate and found that someone, probably Toffee, since he was nearby and had a mildly startled expression, had returned his breakfast to us. This is unusual around here; cats fed simple, high-protein food rarely have stomach troubles. I will have to keep a closer watch on him, to be sure he's not showing symptoms of intestinal blockage. (He plays, he eats, he chatters, he flings himself about as we pet him, purring. So far, so good.)

There was no worthwhile forensic evidence on the rug, so I cleaned it up and went back to bed. But I heard more racket, so I got up again. In the kitchen, I found another Gift with Purchase. This was the other kind, and mercifully it was very hard and dry. It Happens — our cats all have long fluffy "pants" on their back legs. I cleaned again.

I believe that spraying Nature's Miracle immediately neutralizes every cat accident because it's smelly and full of chemicals and sanitizing alcohol. I need to keep believing this because, otherwise, we are living in an 800-square-foot crime scene.

Later on, drinking my cold tea, I spotted yet another Gift with Purchase in front of our bookcases. This one appeared to be a very near relative of the one in the kitchen, also hard and dry. Sometimes It Happens twice. But here's the interesting thing: Someone had jumped up on my desk and carried off a used tissue I'd left there the night before, when I was too tired to put it in the kitchen wastebasket. The tissue had been thoughtfully placed right beside the Gift.

So I did as I was told, and cleaned that up. Sprayed more Nature's Miracle. And then I stopped looking around.

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