Saturday afternoon, three o’clock. We still sit, all of us, in our family room, poking at our devices. We’ve done this for hours. All except Eli, he worked this morning. He came home at noon and went straight to bed. Everyone’s a little hungover. Last night was rough. It started with a screech or a growl or a howl.
The four of us worked in the kitchen, throwing together a late dinner. An Asian stir-fry. Beef for Eli and me, chicken for Susan and Sophie. We all wanted broccoli and onions and of course Jasmine rice. Sophie made a fish sauce to drizzle.
Those cats, Tommy really. His appetite is insatiable. We fed him an hour earlier, but he still hovered around his food bowl, making mopey eye contact with anyone who looked his way. Roz wandered past. She looked like hell. Susan and I commented on this earlier in the day. She’s lost weight, she’s limping more these past few days. Sleeping a lot. Not eating. We suspected that her long expected diabetic decline arrived. We dose her twice a day with insulin, but at some point her body will just quit trying. That’s what happened with Spooky.
Tommy attacked Roz. He does this when he’s hungry. It’s a ploy to get our attention, but it never gets him food. If Pavlov was right, Tommy should have stopped this behavior years ago. We never reward him, and someone always stomps after him, chasing him from the room. He ducks behind furniture with a puffed-up tail.
Last night’s attack was vicious. It lasted three or four seconds. That might not seem long, but the typical length is about a second and a half. Sophie ran into the next room to scare off Tommy. Things quieted down, Sophie said “Ummm…” like when someone is searching for the right words to describe something upsetting. “Ummm, Roz threw up or peed or something.” I went into the next room. A white, milky liquid splattered the hardwood floor. I stepped in it wearing only my socks.
“Oh no, something’s spilling out of Roz’s side.” Sophie pointed into the next room. More milk trailed across the floor and pooled under the weight bench. Roz sat beneath an end table with wet fur matted to her skin. Eli and I googled all night animal hospitals. The closest one in Maryland, almost an hour away.
“I’ll go.” That was me. “But someone needs to drive me, I can’t drive at night.” I grabbed my wallet and phone while Sophie scooped out a couple of bowls of stir-fry for us to eat on the road. Susan and Eli coaxed Roz into the carrier.
Susan pulled me aside. “You might need to make some hard decisions.”
“That’s why I volunteered to go.” My lack of emotions makes those decisions easier for me than anyone else.
Roz had an abscess—a big one. A week-old injury, undetected by us, and probably inflicted by Tommy, became infected. Tommy must have torn it open when he attacked. Roz was easily treated, minor surgery, cleansing, a massive dose of antibiotics, and we were on our way. We stopped at 7-11 for ice cream bars for the ride home. I got Dibs.
Susan and Eli went to bed when Tommy was discharged. Sophie and I didn’t get home until after one o’clock. Except for Eli who left for work at dawn, we all slept deep into the morning. I woke with a headache. My addictive coffee consumption should have started hours earlier. Tommy seems shook up. He didn’t eat anything all day. This morning, he sat off to the side and watched while Roz ate from his dish.
Roz seems fine. A shaved area on her hip with two large, scabbed over gashes appears to be healing—or at least not bleeding. She’s more alert now than she’s been over the past week. That infection must have been dragging her down. Today is something of a loss for us all, humans and cats. Hopefully tomorrow is a better day.
Photo: Roz during a relaxed moment.