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Our Messed Up Pets

by Ron Kretschmer 6 months ago in cat

Part 2 - Happy

Our Messed Up Pets
Photo by Krista Mangulsone on Unsplash

Part 1 told of a cat with unresolved anger issues and severe separation anxiety. In Part 2, I will tell of an orange tabby named, Happy, who was almost nothing like Dopey. When my middle child was turning 3, she received the little guy for her birthday. She had medical challenges that were manageable, but still a lot for her and the family, and Happy seemed to understand that dynamic from the very first day. The 2 of them were almost inseparable, as if conjoined by fate.

This cat was quite nearly the perfect pet. Many people claim that their animal was the greatest friend ever, and those claims are both heartfelt and hyperbole. Happy truly was the greatest cat friend to my daughter, so you will just have to come to terms with the fact that the most wonderful orange tabby there has ever been or ever will be, resided with us for 2 glorious years.

Oh, you caught that? Yes, the story will take a dark turn, but conflict is the backbone of a good story, is it not? The birthday cat was lovingly protective of his person. He kept her safe from the aforementioned feline, slept on her bed like a guardian angel, and even knew to come get us when my daughter needed assistance. Should the occasion have ever come up, I'm convinced that he could have called 911 and given the emergency operator all of the pertinent details through his advanced evolutionary feline translator, and probably even knew CPR. I don't know that his dainty little front legs would have been able to effectively compress the chest area enough for resuscitation, but he'd have figured all of that out somehow. He was a somewhat silent guardian, a beacon of friendship, and a hunter of vermin. Basically, he was the Batman of cats.

All pet stories eventually have Old Yeller endings. Most of them aren't that dramatic, of course, but the time for bidding goodbye comes to all of us. There is a time for scattering stones and such. If the next part of Happy's journey wasn't completely necessary to complete the writing, I might skip that part. I might even say that Happy is still with us, healthy as ever, and almost 23 years old now. Sadly, that is as false as it is unrealistic. The dark knight of pets developed a tumor in his jaw. We cursed the fates, fell upon our knees in anguish, and burned ashes. How do you burn ashes? In a stroke of genius, I decided to take him to someone who treats sick animals, and that is how my daughter and I ended up in a private room with our once-in-a-generation cat hero, waiting for the vet to come speak with us.

This part is entirely factual. It's going to come across as creative license because it's so cruel, but I would testify in court, under penalty of perjury to the accurate portrayal of what happened when the veterinarian walked in. There is a term whose somewhat antiquated definition refers to the shameful marital status of someone's parents. Because I'm an upstanding, God fearing citizen, I'm going to pretend that I have never uttered that word in reference to this vet as I have retold the dastardly tale. Dastardly with a 'D'. He introduced himself as Doctor Strip Mall Animal Hospital Guy, or something like that. He then said that our cat had a tumor in his jaw (thank you kindly, Dr. Obvious!). It was explained that, while it was not malignant, it would continue to grow until Happy could no longer eat if it said mass was not removed. He quoted a price for humanely putting the Batman of kitties down, and then quoted the much higher price of the life saving surgery. With his next breath, he looked down at my sobbing preschool daughter and asks, "What do you think you want to do?"

He seriously exploited the tears of a little girl! There was no doubt about what we had to do now, thanks to his untoward manipulation of the crying kid in pigtails. Just like that, Dr. Strip Mall DVM had put me in the position to either finance the procedure that would save the life of my daughter's best friend in the world, or to come across as heartless and too cheap to do the 1 thing that would spare him. Of course we decided to go for the surgery, because we are loving parents who would do anything for our children, and because we didn't want her to become the youngest child to ever sue for emancipation. If the vet business ever hits a rough patch, that guy could probably sell time shares. Dastardly, with a 'D'.

Happy made it through surgery. It wasn't long until he was back to being the best cat that has ever existed. And it wasn't long after that recovery that he developed another tumor, which I'm told is not uncommon. In fact, even if this latest nefarious growth was taken out, he'd likely keep developing more. This was no longer a rescue operation.

Happy was with us for way too short of a time, but he made good use of that time. He will be fondly remembered as the super hero feline by which all other cats who would ever live are judged by. The veterinarian will not be as fondly spoken of.


Ron Kretschmer

Ron is a published writer, illustrator, and teacher. from Tacoma, WA. He recently lost his wife of 27 years to health complications related to Covid-19. Together they had 3 children. Ron enjoys writing, painting, sports, and movies.

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