an inconvenient floof

Lemon has never been the most affectionate of cats. It took almost 7 years before we got purrs out of him, and to this day they can only be heard if you press your ear up against his belly. He’s also a grumpy pain in the ass who hates almost everything, but does – albeit somewhat reluctantly – at least tolerate us.

Most of the year, Lemon finds somewhere comfortable in the house to sleep and everything is fine. In the winter, however, he apparently cannot sleep without being in total contact with me at all times – and he is the worst person I’ve ever shared a bed with. Basically, it looks like this:

Lemon insists on sleeping on my legs. He is a great big fat potato – I actually can’t move him when he’s in brick mode – and he radiates the heat of a thousand suns. I spend every night either squished up in a ball in the 1/4 of the bed alloted to me while Lemon takes over the entire bottom of the bed, or fighting him for leg room. On the rare occasion I fall asleep untethered, he’ll come to bed and take up his usual spot which means I wake up completely dehydrated, drenched with sweat, with cramped legs because they’ve been held in one position all night, and with an aching back because I couldn’t roll over.

These days, I’m getting three to four hours of sleep a night, and they’re not exactly comfortable. As a result, my brains are foggy, I can’t get my day started, I obviously feel like crap, and I am very grumpy towards the huge pile of bricks that refuses to sleep anywhere else on the bed. Look how much room there is! Dilly is in the corner, sleeping by Ed’s feet away from him. Hobbz isn’t even shown, because he is a pretty princess who sleeps on the armchair next to the bed. Lemon’s love and weight is reserved for me alone, and while on some level I appreciate whatever affection he throws my way, I am fucking exhausted. And sore. Is it summer yet?

My mother is coming to visit Halfwack today for the first time. Ed is frantically vacuuming the stairs, I’ve hidden most of the gay porn, and I have no idea what to do with her for the next three days. Wish me luck.

I am so tired.

drama queen

We came home from our trip a week early, because:

cominghome

Basically, something was wrong with Hobbz (oldest kitty and Ed’s one true love). In the weeks before we left, he had started peeing on the floor in the downstairs bathroom. We’d catch him in the act, he’d stop for a few days, then start up again. Nothing else seemed wrong – he would just very deliberately pee on the floor, then leave like nothing happened. He hadn’t done it in the few days before our trip, so we just hoped he was being a prima donna about the state of his litterbox.

Unfortunately, the floor peeing got a lot worse. Our neighbour and cat sitter both reported in that he was a veritable fountain of pee; hosing down the bathroom at all hours of the day and night. He was also being unusually skittish, wouldn’t let anyone touch him, and was looking pretty rough. All of these are highly unusual, but when pee started to appear outside the downstairs bathroom, we knew something was seriously wrong. We asked our cat sitter to please take him to the vet, which went about as well as expected: he fear-peed all over everything to the point where he had no more pee for the vet to take. Blood was drawn, then they were sent home so Hobbz could be put in isolation in an attempt to capture some pee for testing (didn’t work – puppy pads are REALLY ABSORBANT).

Meanwhile, Ed and I are in Lille and feeling like horrible cat parents and terrible people all around. We discussed it briefly, and made the decision that we would cut our trip short and fly home as soon as possible. We were pretty much in the middle of nowhere, which complicated matters – but I searched through every possible combination of cities, trains, and airports and managed to come up with a return trip home that didn’t cost $2500 each, leaving on Saturday. It was Thursday at this point, so we left Lille and headed to Brussels as originally planned. We’d get a day and a half in Belgium (better than nothing), then leave from Brussels early Saturday morning to take a train to London and fly from Gatwick at noon.

Brussels was truly lovely, but both Ed and I were really distracted with worry about Hobbz so we didn’t get to see nearly as much of the city as we normally would. We made the best of a bad situation with many beers (for Ed), statues of small children peeing, crazy waffle concoctions, and huge epic castley things. I ate a weird taco. Pay toilets are both awful and great. Tourists are fucking rabid about Manneken Pis, which is surprisingly tiny. A great gay store named Boris Boy reminded me of my long-standing grudge against women’s sex toys and roused my outrage all over again. I drank the Diet Coke I smuggled into the country smugly. Angst aside, we had a lot of fun.

I was struggling, though. There’s a 9-hour difference between Brussels and Vancouver, and our cat sitter would arrive around 3pm each day so I’d be awake well after midnight, waiting for updates and passing along information for the vet. We had to be at the train station by 7am on Saturday for our train, so I was up at 5:30 to shower and finish packing and make sure everything was ready to go. Worry for Hobbz, stress about being so far from home, lack of sleep, angst over cutting our vacation short, and wracking internal sobs about having to return to the reality of my work situation a full week earlier than intended has taken a huge toll on me – I am not myself, something Ed has repeatedly noted over the last few weeks.

Still, we made it home. Our plane landed on time, all our luggage arrived, and by 4:30 we were pulling into our garage, desperate to see our cats.

All of whom were totally fine (and beyond ecstatic that we were home).

The vet thinks Hobbz has a slight kidney or bladder infection, or possibly a stone. Most (but not all) of the peeing has stopped, leading me to suspect he was being a complete fucking drama queen because Ed wasn’t home. We had to collect a urine sample from the floor to take to the vet, but that’s happening today and we’ll get a course of treatment for Hobbz .. who, incidentally, perked up a thousandfold the instant he saw Ed.

I am trying very hard to be pragmatic about our melodramatic diva of a cat, but there’s a liiiiiittle bit of resentment there. I’ve STILL never been to Amsterdam, damnit.

I know we did the right thing, and Hobbz isn’t out of the woods yet. Still, I can’t help but feel cheated out of what was supposed to be a complete distraction from the last few months – it kinda feels like I can’t catch a break. I wasn’t supposed to return to work until the 17th, but since we’re home and I don’t get paid time off, there’s no reason for me not to work the week. We’ll also need the money to cover the extra train tickets and flights home, because even though we had trip insurance, I don’t think it covers pet illness or emotional manipulation via floor urine. I haven’t been able to submit the claim yet, but I’m not hopeful. And I feel just weird overall – I’m glad to be home, but at the same time this is the last place I want to be.

I’m trying not to be all fatalist about this maybe being the last vacation we’ll ever take because once I lose my job we won’t be able to afford stuff like this (not to mention this trip was booked with proceeds from the sale of Sparta), but I am REALLY GOOD at being fatalist.

Pictures soon!

IMG_8636

gone

There’s two where there should be three.

There were three where there should have been four.

The house is too quiet. Less fluffy. And my heart hurts.

We lost Cheddar today. A trip to the vet yesterday revealed advanced feline leukemia, a likely tumour on her liver, and a thyroid problem. At 16, there was nothing we could do. She was in pain, but refused to show it even to the end – purring and happy to see us. We had to say goodbye, and it was so hard.

Cheddar was with us for 14 wonderful years, and remains the best kidnapping decision I’ve ever made. Everyone who ever met her loved her, and she loved them all in return.

I hope we did right by you, Cheddar. You are so, so loved.

cheddar1

smoked cheddar cheese
the happiest, least photogenic cat that ever was