About two weeks ago, our cat Oliver started having some problems.
I was the first to notice it, one night, after putting the kids to bed. I was sitting by the computer in the living room, and watched Ollie climb out of the kitty litter box, squat down, and start licking his private areas. Nothing new there, until I realized that he was actually licking his penis.
That was weird. I had never seen a cat's penis, before. Frankly, it's not something I've ever wanted to see. It looked like a pink piece of elbow macaroni dangling between his legs. But he just sat there, licking away. Honestly, it made me a little nervous.
I told Corb about it the next day, and he didn't think it was a big deal. However, that night, after watching him move around, he agreed that Oliver was acting a little funny. "Maybe nothing's wrong," he said. "But he needs a check-up, anyway."
Corb called and arranged for Oliver to visit the vet that Friday. Friday, however, was my first day back from New York, and I had a lot of work to catch up, so Corb and his mother took him. The doctor said that Oliver looked fine, and what a handsome cat he was, but just to be on the safe side, we should bring a urine sample back to the vet, for testing.
"How in the hell are we going to get a urine sample?" I asked. "Are we supposed to, like, milk him like a cow?" I imagined the vet slipping on a tight rubber glove
"Yes, that'd be productive," said Corb, sarcastically. (In fact, I learned later, that's exactly how some vets do it.) "No, the doctor said that we need to remove the kitty litter completely and get Oliver to pee into the empty box. We could even spread popcorn along the bottom, to fool him."
Well, about a week passed after Ollie's physical, and we hadn't gotten around to doing the urine sample. It was my vaction week, and I had the kids to worry about. Milking a cat for urine wasn't top of mind, unfortunately.
Oliver seemed fine right after his check-up, but four days later, he started going downhill again. He wasn't as playful as we were used to. He stopped chasing Haley around, and making his leopard purr whenever he would move across the room. And, he seemed to be having trouble laying on his bottom and would twist himself around, so that he was laying on his side. Frankly, we started to get a little worried.
Last Friday morning, as I was typing away at the computer, Oliver came over to me. I looked down, and he started to meow. He looked a little frightened. I started to pet him, and he kept meowing.
That's when I knew something was wrong. Ollie rarely would come up to me like that, unless it was time to eat...and I had never heard him that vocal.
I felt completely helpless. I had to go pick up the kids, and Corb and I had been planning to work together on Oliver once he arrived home from work. So, I petted him, and tied to comfort him as best I could. "Are you okay, boy?" I asked, two or three times, although of course he didn't answer.
The rest of the day, he just lay around the house, listless.
That night, Corb returned home with several containers of popcorn. I was busy playing video games with Theo, but asked my boy to put our game on pause. I lifted myself up from the floor.
"You ready?" I asked.
"I'm ready," said Corb.
"Okay. I'll clean the kitty litter box. Theo, can you start popping the popcorn?"
Corb, who had been moving the shopping bags to the kitchen, stopped in his tracks. "What did you just ask him to do?"
"Pop the popcorn," I said. "For the bottom of the kitty little box. To fool him, right?"
"You're not serious, are you?" Corb asked, grinning. "You don't really think..."
Suddenly, it dawned on me, and I felt like the bastard stepchild of Edith Bunker and Rosanne Rosannadanna. "Oh," I said, blushing. Pause. "Um, we only need the kernels?"
"No putting anything past you, is there?" Corb asked, laughing loudly at my stupidity. "Ted, why in the hell would we pour hot popcorn into the kitty litter box? What's he going to do, watch movies in there?"
"We've got a nice double feature, Oliver," Corb continued. "Garfield, and The Incredible Journey. And some hot buttered popcorn, for your feline enjoyment!"
I ignored him and went to clean out the kitty litter box. Corb came in and opened up the jar of popcorn, teasing me the entire time.
It only took a few minutes before Oliver headed to the kitty litter box. Corb waited until he exited, and then inspected the box. "We should be fine," he announced, and wrapped up the kitty litter bag, filled with popcorn kernels and cat urine. Corb and I grabbed our keys, jumped into the Stang, and headed off, with Ashes and Theo, to the vet.
Fifteen minutes later, we reached our destination. All of us jumped out of the car and raced into the vet's office, which was closing in an hour.
The assistant behind the desk was a young guy in his early twenties with sandy brown hair. He was busy talking to an older lady with a worried look on her face, who was also trying to calm an extremely vocal cat inside a crate. The assistant looked up the moment we entered. The cat kept crying.
"We're here to make a deposit," said Corb.
The assistant looked at us strangely. "Um, why do you have a bag in your hands?" he asked, sounding like a cousin of Beevis. The older lady looked over our way, curious.
"It's filled with cat pee," explained Corb.
Suddenly, the entire office was filled with an eerie silence. It was as if the record had stopped, and everyone's attention shifted instantly. Even the cat inside the crate stopped meowing. Everyone started staring at us. I felt like Cleavon Little visiting the town of Rock Ridge for the first time in Blazing Saddles.
The young vet's assistant looked at us as though we were out of our minds. "You've come here to hand me a bag of cat pee?" he asked.
"Yes," said Corb. "We were told to."
"Someone told you to come here and hand me a bag of cat pee?" No dipshit, we just thought of the idea on our own. You know, when you care enough to send the very best...
Fortunately, at that moment, an older woman entered from the back room. "Of course they are," she said, clinically. "We need to do a urinalysis." She looked at us, and Corb handed her the bag. "Don't mind him, he's kind of new."
"No prob," said Corb. "It's just nice to know we're not going crazy!"
However, on our way home, we received a phone call. "Hello?" said Corb. "What?...Are you sure? Really? Oh. Well, okay..." Corb hung up his cell phone. "That was the vet. We didn't give them enough cat pee. They need at least a tablespoon."
"How are we going to get them a tablespoon?" I asked.
"We could try milking," said Corb.
Fortunately, we didn't have to milk anything. Getting the pee wasn't hard, because things were getting worse. We arrived home to discover a small puddle of pee at the bottom of the laundry basket. That was the second incident. Earlier that day, Oliver had peed on the clean laundry inside the basket.
We moved the basket to the kitchen, and located a Tupperware container. Carefully, we lifted the laundry basket up, and navigated the little puddle of yellow liquid into the container. It reminded me of a marble game that I had as a child, called "Escape from the Devil's Doom." The goal was to move a big metal marble into the center of the board, avoiding pitfalls along the way. I wish I knew where that game ended up. If my parents had it, I'd steal it back in a second.
A minute later, Oliver walked into the bathroom, and peed again.
Once we had retrieved that second yellow puddle, we stared proudly at our creation. "I'd say we have more than a tablespoon, now," said Corb. I nodded.
We didn't bring Oliver's creation back to the vet, however. It was too late. Instead, we stored it in the fridge, overnight, and decided to go out with the kids, to the Providence Place Mall.
We went to the IMAX, and supper afterwards. Ice cream, after that. But as we climbed into the car to return home, I noticed something out of the ordinary. Ashes was strangely quiet. And, five minutes into the ride, I started to hear noises from the back seat.
"Ashes is crying," said Theo.
"She's what?" I turned around, concerned. "Honey, what's the matter?"
She couldn't say. She just sat there, sobbing. I felt like crawling into the back seat, but by this time, Corb was driving on the highway. "Is it Oliver, honey?"
She nodded, still crying. And then it hit me...Thumbkin. Memories of Thumkbkin's premature death still lingered, especially for Ashes, who had been the first to discover him. And with Ashes off her medication, for the first time in years...and at an age where she was just naturally, hormonally emotional...
I waited until we pulled into the apartment complex to talk to her. Theo and Corb exited, so we could be alone. "Oliver's not going anywhere, you know," I said.
"How do you know that?" she said, crying. "That's what we thought about Thumbkin." And she started sobbing, again.
"I just have a feeling about this one, sweetie," I said. "Ollie's going to be with us for a good long time. The vet took a look at him, and everything's going to be all right."
"But the vet said he was fine, and sent him home," said Ashes. "He could be wrong."
Ashes spent the rest of the night crying. I allowed her to sleep on the couch, much to Theo's chagrin, next to me, while Theo slept on the floor. It was a comforting feeling, sleeping between my chicks...something I haven't done in years. But all the while, I spent the night keeping a cautious eye on Oliver.
The next morning, I woke up, bright and early, and drove our--rather, Oliver's--urine sample to the vet. Josie picked the kids up at one, but they called in every few hours all day long, just to check on Ollie's condition.
On Tuesday, we received the confirmation--exactly what we suspected. Ollie has a urinary tract infection. The vet prescribed medication, which we've administered faithfully these past few days. Corb has to hold Oliver down and shove it in his mouth, which Oliver is not very happy about.
But it's working. Oliver seems much, much more animated than he did on Saturday. He’s even started making leopard noises, again!
It's nice to see him back in action. As much as I didn't want to admit it to the kids, I was a bit afraid that things might be really bad. I don't want to go through another Thumbkin incident, ever again.
Between Thumbkin and the death of Prince, I'd sort of like my furry friends to stick around for a couple of years, without any worries. I think the kids would appreciate that, too.