Chocolate Covered Cats

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Life Face First: Negotiating One Calamity at a Time

Rescuing cats is a little like life and chocolates according to Forrest Gump: “You never know what you’re gonna get.”

When a large, brown tabby cat took up residence in my yard, it was obvious he wasn’t someone’s pet.

I scooped him up, fed him and gave him a safe place to stay.

I named him Hemingway after the big-game hunting author of The Old Man and the Sea. Like his namesake, he was bold and confident. He had a purr so rich it was buttery.

Circumstances prevented me from keeping him for myself and, I knew I needed to find the big, loving cat a permanent home.

“I’ll take him,” my then boyfriend Brian said after a glance at the cat. Brian is a fan of Hemingway, the author, and was immediately taken by the big cat’s good looks.

It was a good fit. Hemingway, the cat, was a man’s man, or would have been had he been human. A bachelor pad was the perfect setting for his macho personality. I let him go with a sigh, and consoled myself that at least I would get to see him when I visited Brian’s apartment.

Soon after Brian and Hemingway became roomies, I grew disturbed by the cat’s behavior. He ate constantly, and his belly was bloated and distended. This wasn’t bachelor living. It was something worse.

I’d wormed him, but nothing I did alleviated his bloating or his desperation for food.
Brian and I loaded the cat in the car and took him to see a veterinarian.

The vet frowned when I told him the cat’s symptoms. He poked and prodded and ordered a sonogram. He feared a blockage.

He took Hemmy, as we dubbed him, from our arms and carried him into the back for tests.
We waited with nervous and fearful anticipation. In a short time, we’d grown to love the roguish cat.

The vet returned to the room.

“Well,” he began with an uncharacteristic touch of awkwardness. “Well…” he tried again.

“Was there a blockage?” I asked.

“No,” he assured me. “There’s no blockage.”

The vet cleared his throat. “He’s a big cat,” he said slowly. “He’s got a big frame. And big bones.”

He searched for words. “And he’s always going to be big cat.”

Brian still seemed concerned, but I was starting to get the picture.

“Are you trying to tell me he’s just fat?” I blurted.

The look on the vet’s face was a comical picture of relief and amusement.

“Yes,” was his succinct reply. No doubt he was relieved that he no longer had to find a politically correct way to tell us our cat’s bloating was obesity and his appetite was gluttony at its worst.

One hundred dollars later, we took our fat cat home and put him on a diet.

Rescuing cats is like a box of chocolates. You take the coconut creams with the cherries, and if you’re lucky, the worst you get isn’t a serious medical condition, but a mild personality disorder.
Nora Blithe

Nora Blithe is the author of the syndicated humor column “Life Face First.” Read her blog online at NoraBlithe.com.