Erik Quinn: The Heart of a Family: Special Needs

Monday, May 21, 2007

Special Needs


The time has come to take my cat to the vet. She's sick. It has been probably seven years since she has been in. I just got off the phone and found the conversation with the woman who answered very awkward indeed.

Woman: Hello, Animal Hospital.

Nancy: Um. Yes. My cat has some problems and needs to be seen.

Woman: What kind of problems?

Nancy: Well, she doesn't seem to be feeling well. You see, she is normally half wild, and...

Woman: Oh, she's an outside cat?

Nancy: No. She lives inside. Anyway--

Woman: Oh?

Nancy: Yes. She is normally very grouchy and undeniably unpleasant but seems extra grouchy now. She is growling much more than usual.

Woman:
Oh my.

This is precisely why I hate taking my half-feral cat to the vet. Four weeks ago I had the phone book open to the local carpet cleaning businesses but am thankful I put off calling them, as she has developed a rampant case of cat dandruff and diarrhea. She tries to lie on the carpet and look relaxed, but every muscle in her body is twitching, and her eyes are wide and demonic. She has been like this for years, but lately she has become much worse. When I have company, my adult guests steer clear of her, giggling nervously and looking to me for reassurance. My friend Kathy once admitted she felt sheepish she was frightened of something that weighs less than a bag of flour. Frankly, I don't blame anyone for being freaked out when they come over.

How does one explain a cat like Gracie?

In 1996, I purchased my very first home. It was a massive accomplishment for me after I procured my first "real" job. For the first time, I had 1000 feet to myself. I threw a modest housewarming party for myself to celebrate, and my guests sat on the carpet scattered about the house drinking daiquiris, as furniture was sparse at that point in time. My friend Shaena came to the front door with a tiny black and white kitten under her jacket. This cat was given to me as a very adorable housewarming present, although she told me that if I was not interested in keeping said fluffball, there was someone else who would give her a good home. No pressure.

The first night, our lives were forever entwined. This animal slept nestled in the space between my neck and clavicle, her strong little motor purring under a bird-like rib cage. There was no chance I was going to give up my new furry roommate. It was nice having another living thing in the house with me. As she grew, her antics included sprinting into the living room, leaping up to grab onto the rim of the lamp shade, and orbiting the lamp at warp speed before letting go to crash into the floor. On many nights when I was in bed in the dark, I heard a splash and felt her jump into bed with me with sopping wet fur, acting as if nothing had happened. Apparently, she often drove head first into the toilet, unable to stop on the slick seat. A graceful animal she was not, so, of course, I named her Grace. This eventually morphed into Gracie. Gracie Mae.

Gracie Mae is a one-person cat. In other words, I'm it for her. We lived alone in that house for a couple of years. When I was informed by the city that my cul-de-sac was going to be forced through to handle rush hour traffic flow, I decided to sell. After a few showings, my Realtor gently informed me that Gracie needed to be absent from the house while it showed, as she was scaring potential buyers. Apparently, the "Beware of Cat" posters I put on the door were less than welcoming.

The house sold, and I bought a cute little two-story house with peach paint. The Realtor sent a neatly typed, very professional letter thanking both me and Gracie for our business. By this time, Brian had come into the picture and visited often. When we married and his belongings came off the moving truck into my house, all hell broke loose. Before his dresser settled into the carpet on the bedroom floor, Gracie was smack-dab on top of it, hissing and growling at him when he tried to retrieve socks or underwear from the top drawer. She even charged at him on several occasions without warning, wild-eyed and practically foaming at the mouth. I'm not kidding. I have never seen such hatred from man nor beast. I was mortified to have my very own episode of Wild Kingdom showing nightly in my own living room.

As the years passed, Gracie and Brian formed a relationship based on simple tolerance. They now ignore each other unless Gracie wants something that her floppy, useless thumbs won't help her get for herself. My peach-colored house sold while Gracie was temporarily relocated during showings. At one point, my new Realtor had to enter the house alone and said Gracie snarled at her and refused to let her in. Soon thereafter, we moved into a new home, and Erik was born. Gracie seemed to understand what he was and left him alone, hissing at him only when he ventured too close. She is now very good around him, although she can still frighten our visitors by hiding in the guest room and making her presence known right before the lights are extinguished or jumping onto the back of the couch and causing each and every adult buttock there to rise instantly.

And so you have it. The story of Gracie Mae. I love that old girl, and she loves me.

I hope she is okay tomorrow, but, more importantly, I hope that the new vet survives her tangle with terror.

11 Comments:

Blogger Miss 1999 said...

I can understand where you're coming from-- I had a cat that was, well, less than social (not my beloved Morris, but TJ)... So, I know what it's like to love your cat. I hope and pray that everything goes well at the vet! *hugs*

8:50 PM  
Blogger Kerry said...

:) I hope Gracie is ok... I know how she is part of your family. It's a nice feeling that she loves you the most in the world over anyone else. So she's not TOTALLY crazy ;)

3:54 AM  
Blogger Life's a peach said...

Mad coincidence - my little demon ball is called Daisy May, she is about 8 years old, and will go for anyone if they look at her the wrong way. I no longer take her to the vets, after the time when it took three assistants, one gauntlet, two towels and one vet to give her a booster, whereupon she twisted round, grabbed hold of the syringe in the back of her neck, and launched it across the surgery. All the time making a cry like a rabid panther.

I walked out of the surgery with blood dripping down my chest from a two pawed slash, with the other owners in the waiting room bemused to find that the noise was being made by a small black cat and not a tiger. She finished by raking her claws across the nose of a doberman who got too curious next to her carry cage.

I have one other cat, a little beauty called Kim, who earns a hiss and slash every time she comes too close to the demon one.

The practice write annually to remind me of Kim's booster, but I have not received one for ages for Daisy....

5:05 AM  
Blogger Teresa & Shawn said...

I hope Gracie is okay, too. As big of pains in the butt my cats are, I cannot imagine life without them.

5:30 AM  
Anonymous Aspen said...

I love kitty stories! My brother used to have a cat that sounds a lot like Gracie. He/she (I can't remember) would climb to the top of the kitchen cabinets and look down at everyone while hissing, spitting, swatting...you name it. To say the least, everyone steered clear. The worst was when we would be visiting and she would sneak in our room while we were sleeping. Logan once woke up to the cat standing on top of his chest staring him down just waiting to make his kill. HAHA Not sure Logan has ever been so scared! HAHA

Good luck at the vet today! Those are never fun visits. Autumn will have to tell you her story of taking Roxanne to the vet. HAHAHA So not funny...

7:32 AM  
Blogger THE PASLAY'S OF IDAHO said...

ALRIGHT... I TRULY DO HOPE THAT MISS GRACIE MAE IS FEELING MUCH BETTER AND THAT THE VET CAN HELP IF NEED BE! EVEN THOUGH GRACIE BRINGS TERROR TO YES... SAD TO SAY, TERROR TO US ALL WHEN WE COME FOR A VISIT! BY HER HIDING DEEP UNDER THE BED AND MAKING NOISES ONLY I THOUGHT ONE WOULD HEAR IN HELL OR TO FIND HER LYING JUST SO UNDER THE COMFORTER AND READY TO ATTACK AS WE SLIP INTO BED! WHAT A HOST SHE DOES NOT MAKE! hahahaha

PERHAPS ON OUR NEXT VISIT I WILL BRING THE GROUCHY GIRL A TREAT! BUT I HONESTLY DO NOT THINK THAT WILL HELP! NOT ONE BIT!!! :)

BIG HUGS!!!

10:30 AM  
Blogger Nancy said...

Dawnita - your comment made me laugh so hard. I will never forget how she terrorized you guys in the guest room. Too funny!

11:22 AM  
Blogger Every minute counts.... said...

I had a cat named Max that sounds like he could be related to Gracie too. Max lived to the ripe old age of 16. I brought him home as a kitten and no one could touch him but me. Of course when I moved out, my parents made the cat go with me. With a cat like Max was...who needed a guard dog? He actually would stand behind the front door when my roommate entered and attack her legs( he drew blood on more than one occasion) and he went back to live with my parents because when Chris moved in it became "me or the cat".
He lived out the rest of his life with my parents and became the butt of many jokes. My younger brothers would get in trouble for not cleaning up and their excuse was always "But, mom, Max did it". We still to this day tease that "Max did it" when something doesn't quite go as planned.

Hope everything at the vet works out. Loved the picture too...very funny!!

Noel

11:27 AM  
Blogger Kim, Grandma to Ava,ws said...

I would love for Gracie to meet Harold, our morbidly obese bipolar cat. Harold is 25 lbs. of pure evil. The ONLY reason he is still with us is because I am too afraid to pick him up to take him to the vet for a dirt nap. The last time I tried to pick him up he took two large chunks out of my arm without batting an eye. He stares at me when I sleep. I guess he can't tolerate my alarm clock, because if I hit the snooze he bites my head and pulls my hair. My friends are terrified of him. I really should have expected this kind of behavior from him. The person who gave him to me described his personality as that of a "New York cabbie." He does have one *endearing* habit: he nurses himself. We are used to it, but it kind of freaks out the guests!

Good luck with Miss Gracie Mae. Hopefully she will be back to her devilish self soon. I LOVED the picture. Funny!

8:21 PM  
Blogger kathi said...

Because I could soooo relate, I laughed all the way through this.
I pray you find out tomorrow what is wrong with her and she get's all better very soon.
Just think how much fun it would be giving Gracie Mae meds. Seriously, having had to do this, I'm laughing again.

10:07 PM  
Blogger Rosemarie said...

Gracie must have been related to Junior. My husband's cat for 17 years. When I appeared and would put my husband's clothes away in the dresser, Junior would send meow warnings, as he stood on the edge of the bed ready to leap. It was frightening at times and I would call my husband to intervene. Too funny! We eventually got along as I started feeding him in the early mornings. It's been nine years since we put him down because of kidney failure.

This comment is after Gracie's diagnosis irritable bowl movement. I don't want to sound insensitive to readers.

7:52 AM  

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