Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Free $10,000 Cat

Ever since our first stray wandered into our lives and picked us to live with we've been smitten with cats, and in particular, black cats. 

Carver, King of the Manor  1993-2012
When Carver appeared on our doorstep back in Atlanta in 1993 it was the beginning of a twenty year love affair.  Handsome, distinguished and wearing a tuxedo 24/7; and with a yowl that harkened back to what we guessed were Siamese grandparents.  For years whenever we got on the phone he would howl for such long spells that people often thought we had a real baby in the house that was in serious distress.  We lost a lot of friends over time who wrote us off due to our insensitivity and lack of priorities - wondering why we never hung up the phone to tend to that dying child.  

One thing we quickly learned about free cats is that there is nothing free about them starting the following day that they move into your home.  Soon after Carver had selected us as his lifetime place of residence he came down with a urinary tract infection.  The cost of going to the vet at that time was negligible compared to the lifetime prescription of cat food we have had to special order for all of these years.  If one cat eats it, they all eat it.  We are still using that cat food almost 25 years and $10,000 later and regret not having bought stock in that particular company. 

Did I mention that along the way we acquired a few more strays?  We have never had a ‘catless gap’ of time since 1993 where we might have been able to start anew with another type of food.

In addition to the prescription food there have been dental cleanings, annual shots, countless toys that they hated, scratching posts that they turned their noses up at, and a host of cat nannies that we had to 1099 back when we traveled a lot overseas.   Yet all of that pales in comparison to the thyroidectomy and subsequent blood work that Carver ended up having in his middle-aged years.

The good news is that it’s all relative, right?  Cat number three, Fiona, has coincidentally ended up with thyroid disease also.  Because of her petiteness, surgery was not recommended, so after arranging for special financing at an exorbitant interest rate if we are five minutes late with just one of the payments, Fiona was all set for the radioisotope injection, to be administered by a group called Radiocat.

We hated lying to her, but if she knew what was about to happen we would never get her out from under the sofa.   So we told her she’s off to Radiocat Summer Camp.  She thinks it's a ‘Fun with Broadcasting’ summer program, but 1) it's not summer anymore and 2) it has nothing to do with broadcasting.  We’re hoping she doesn’t catch on to that little deception. 

Leading up to this procedure required numerous phone calls with Radiocat’s main office in Baltimore. Then blood work, a urinalysis, chest x-rays, and an ultrasound to get her ready.  Now you know why we had to lie about where she was going.  Prior to her procedure a ‘packing list’ of what to take to ‘camp’ was emailed to us.  She needed her food, plus treats, one or two of our dirty shirts that she could sleep on, and her favourite skunk toy.  And none of these would be returned to us because they would be radioactive after this procedure. 

After three days in isolation we got to pick her up and bring her home. The vet tech promised she would not glow in the dark, but she was in fact still radioactive and would be for two weeks as the isotope continued its retreat in daily half- life increments.  Actually I just made that part up in order to sound smart.

And of course we had to buy special flushable litter so that the radioactive waste didn’t go into the landfill.  Not surprisingly, this litter was $25 a bag compared to the normal $8 bucks we usually spend.

Did I mention that at one time she was free also? 

Steve and I often find ourselves pondering the evolution of our lives over these past 25 years and ask ourselves should we pursue our dream of moving abroad and painting and writing, or should we stick around Naples and continue rescuing cats?  Or should we go overseas and rescue cats, and paint and write?   The answer to this question changes on a daily basis, but one thing we know, there will always be cats.


  1. Lovely post! I so understand your commitment to your felines. My brother and his family have same, and with their first 'rescue cat' having lately gone to the great beanbag in the sky after something like 18 years, they have just acquired their new family member, also from the rescue sanctuary.

    As to what you should do... come to Europe, rescue cats, paint and write. Maybe the South of France. luscious and lazy, or a little spot in Italy, where the summers are warm and the light is rich and mellow? Or how about West London, where none of the above applies, but there are plenty of cats to be rescued. ;) Jx

  2. Thanks for your comments Julie! And all of your suggestions are being taken into account!
    For some reason I don't get a notification when someone posts a note so I am just seeing this today. At least it was within the same month as the blog post for a change!