Sandra Tsing Loh tells her daughter that her cat was hit by a car.
So my 10 year old daughter’s cat CATO got hit by a car and now, rushed to an animal hospital, he is on oxygen.
“What’s the prognosis?” I ask the doctor, terrified.
“Well, he’s heavily sedated,” the doctor says, “His head and jaw have sustained multiple fractures. I suggest tomorrow we take him off oxygen and look inside his mouth to see if he needs surgery, or a metal plate. If he’s not able to eat, we’ll insert a feeding tube.”
Estimated cost: $2600.
“Aha,” I say.
Do you see how complex parenting has become? In the old days, cat got hit, sad funeral, green garbage bag. In the new days, we have—what?—feline palliative care. My friend Jody, who knows Cato—“He’s a bird-killer”—she thinks I should just bang the cat over the head with a frying pan and be done with it. But no, as if in a dream, I find myself filling out medical forms which include a box you have to check off for: “Do Not Resuscitate.” Ach— Where was the box for: “Due to lack of cat insurance, I’ve decided none of my children will be attending college”?
I do it, in the end, though, because it’s not my cat—it’s my ex-husband’s really, and he is out of town, and he feels bad, and I feel bad, so we decide to share the cost because we know our daughter will feel bad because she lost her last cat due to a mysterious illness, and she’s starting to think all her pets are going to die which, ‘tis true, they are—? Hm—
Feeling sure I have missed something important in the parenting manual, I now deliver the news. It’s not quite as confusing as “Your cat was taken to Jesus, but Jesus didn’t want him," but it isn’t much better. I say, turning suddenly in the car:
“Suzy? About Cato, who we haven’t seen? First of all, everything’s going to be fine. Cato was hit by a car, BUT a nice lady took him to the hospital he is on oxygen getting better cost is $2600 that’s okay I know you didn’t want to go to college anyway. You know all pets eventually die, that’s the game, in fact your dad’s going to die, your mom’s going to die, die die die die die but guess what you got lucky this time!
Suzy turns a range of colors. She doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
We fill the gap with a trip to Baskin-Robbins. Because what’s better in the mid-afternoon than sugar?
Next week: Home health care for an invalid cat.