Catatonic

The thoughts that fill my head daily could fill a book. Today began with a problem that involved fleas and a new tenant and ended with a wet cat in my arms, lethargic from an unseen seizure. I washed her in the tub tonight. She’s had this horrible collection of flea feces in her fur since I’ve known her and I’ve often thought how badly it must itch. I even called the vet and asked how much to sedate her and scrub her clean, but he wanted too much money. It wasn’t until tonight that I really could not take it anymore and decided a bath was in order, despite the many scratches I expected to receive. I truly believed she would hurt me as she tried to escape, but she did not fight. She looked up at me and met my eyes with her gaze once or twice, but she made not one sound.

I found she was pathetic and skinny under all that fur. At one point, the tub was filled with blood running down the drain and I thought the cat was bleeding, but it was the droppings left by the fleas. I wanted to cry, she looked so small and vulnerable. Thinking that someone allowed her to be so pathetic just strengthened my resolve to offer her relief.  At least twice, she shook like a dog and bloody water and soap flew everywhere, including in my face.

She is a Persian cat with huge eyes and a face that frightened me the first time I saw her. I remember staring into her cartoon-like features and marveling at how ridiculous she looked. She didn’t seem real, her features so exaggerated.

She has epilepsy. She was someone else’s cat and then she was mine because I was asked to take her by the person who rescued her from death the day she was to be put down. Her previous owner dismissed her value and made an appointment to end her life. Now she’s asleep in my room, wrapped in a towel and zipped inside a cloth cat carrier, all safe and sound. She won’t eat or drink anything and that alarmed me when she first came to me, but I’ve learned  this is common after a seizure. I put a syringe of water inside her mouth and let just the tiniest amount of water trickle through her clenched teeth, but she did not move. She did not swallow. The water ran out of her mouth and down the front of her chin, onto the knee of my jeans. I told her how important it was for her to drink something but she ignored me and allowed the water to run from her lips again.

I was irritated this morning when I awoke to find a text message about the fleas and how this cat would not be able to stay at the house as we agreed. Now she was coming to me and I already have nine other cats, five of which are small kittens. She does not get along with the mother of the babies so I anticipated problems. When I said, sure bring her to me, I didn’t know I was going to receive a catatonic animal. I hope she is still alive in the morning.

It’s not up to me to decide if her life has value. I am bigger and stronger and smarter than she and as such, I will serve as her protector. She has every much as right to life as I do and today she gave me purpose. So who is bigger and stronger in the end?

Not I, said the humble lion to the frightened mouse.

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