Roz was fat. I’d like to use a nicer word, a gentler phrase—plump, stout, chubby, big-boned—she was all of those, but seriously, she was fat. When we picked her out at the shelter, that was the draw. She sat relaxed, content, like Buddha, an imperceptible smile upon her lips, watching us fool around with the kittens, knowing we would soon come her way. Spooky had died. Lilac was old, we needed a mellow cat that wouldn’t stress her out. Those kittens, rearing up on their hind legs, like stallions during battle or a griffin doing whatever it is that griffins do, and then pouncing, so cute, so annoying to an arthritic cat trying to live her end-days in peace. No, a kitten wouldn’t do. Lilac needed a lady.
Lilac is dead now too. She and Roz never got along. They staked out our house by room; Lilac on a kid’s bunk, Roz under the master bed, both afraid of the other, hissing, hesitant to roam while the other was close. Roz is now middle-aged, and she’s no longer fat. Last week, we noticed, she’s lost all her weight. It seemed to happen overnight. Yesterday plump, today she’s slim. She looks great.
But cats don’t diet. A third of her body weight is gone. This is the stuff of Stephen King novels, of shipwrecked souls on deserted islands, of starvation. This evening at the vet, they bet on feline aids. A death sentence. We have another cat, Roz couldn’t come back home. I waited as they took her blood and ran the test. I read about climbers missing in the Himalayas, presumed dead. An over-the-hill bunch, returning to adventure after a seventeen-year break. I thought about my old gang. We always wanted to take a trip like this. I wondered briefly if one of them did and died on a mountainside in northern India.
Roz doesn’t have aids. Or leukemia. We sent out an expensive blood test, the first of many I’m sure, hopeful she has a treatable wasting disease. Diabetes, or hyperthyroidism. Susan suggested a tapeworm, that would be easy. If none of those, it’s probably cancer. Or maybe it’s intentional, maybe she’s sick of me calling her fat.