Sandra Tsing Loh welcomes home her daughter's cat.
Listen. I know Americans spend more than 50 billion dollars a year on their pets, which is like the gross domestic product of Bulgaria. I know this Halloween U.S. consumers supposedly spent almost 400 million dollars JUST on pet costumes. I recently heard about a lady offering to pay $23,000 to put her cat on dialysis.
And yet, this did not lessen my vexation over Cato, my daughter’s one year-old Siamese. Cato was hit by a car, rushed to the animal hospital by a cat rescue lady, put on oxygen at a hundred dollars an hour, and now I had to sign off on a $2600 bill for antibiotics, sedation, and insertion of a metal plate.
I mean— An active, male, one-year old cat who goes out as he likes— It’s like letting your toddler play on the freeway— Or really, letting your toddler murder other toddlers— In Cato’s case, it was birds beheaded daily— And when he gets hurt—ooh!—nail in the paw, down goes the VISA card—
But what was done was done. So, after a week of the finest animal hospitalization Sherman Oaks has to offer, my daughters and I go to get the cat. “Wait in Room C,” the orderly says. Suddenly shy, we take our seats below brightly colored posters of some pretty gnarly cat and dog gingivitis. Who knew? Moments later, the door pushes open and a 50-ish lady with a shock of gray hair and green scrubs and white tennies enters, cradling a fluffy pink blanket— Which she is murmuring into—
I myself am surprised to hear, from our smitten middle-aged cat lady nurse, that the staff will miss him when he’s gone! She goes on and on about how smart he is and what an amazing personality he has. “Has he picked a major yet?” is the next question I’m tempted to ask, still smarting over the $2600. I’m half-hoping they have taught him to type or to vacuum or something useful.
But no. Which is to say now comes the part where Cat Nurse begins to show us how to manage Cato’s feeding tube. At 30 minutes a session. Four times a day. For the next four to six weeks. There is also medicine twice a day, and eye drops three times a day. You have to be very precise. But— of course— by some crazy California law, my children are required to ATTEND SCHOOL, and as their father— the cat’s real ward— is out of town for another week, Cat Nurse duty will fall to me.
And so, dear listener, feeling all the love in that room? I took out another small student loan. Which included cat insurance. This semester, I can say that I for one have learned a lot! If you ever need help inserting a feline feeding tube... call me.