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Do cats come with "mute" buttons?

Bless the little dear, but she can be such a pain.

See, Parker and I live down in the basement, and, not unwillingly, take care of my family's cats who pretty much reside down here too. There's Marcel, who is basically super cat/my feline boyfriend; he's an orange cat (aka "marmalade" mmm), who's affectionate but not insistent--loving without the pushiness some cats possess. There is also Cali, a gorgeous little calico; she's the "Little Girl" of the house and the princess in residence.

Marcel, of course, is perfect and only brings us joy and amusement.

Cali, on the other hand, can be a raging bitch.
Of course, she's on the counter. Goddamnit.

Cali has had, and will likely continue to have, problems with hairballs. That was the start of this trouble. Puking. Lots of puking. We dubbed her "The Puke-Monster" and would say she was "full of puke".

She's had these hairball issues for a long while, years off an on, but about a year ago (?) they intensified. Maybe it started sooner than that--the intensifying bits--but either way it went from once every other week to pretty much every day to several times a day.

We imagined she had some massive backup of fur in her stomach that she just couldn't pass. Whatever it was, she was making a lot of mess and it was pretty nasty. Anything could get puked on. And Parker and I lived down here at ground zero for 80% or more of the pukings.

As it developed into barfing several times a day, she could no longer keep her food down. Her weight whittled away swiftly. She began "sneaking" onto the kitchen counter to lick up crumbs, spills, unattended food, sometimes soapy but apparently still tasty water from things in the sink. If we left anything food related down her she'd find a way to get into it. She'd also meow constantly for attention and food.

We got very fed up with this, Parker and I. She seemed all to eager to cause trouble & nuisance.

But she continued to lose weight, and puke violently. At some point it occurred to me how scary it must be for her. Being so hungry, puking so much. How disorienting. How confusing. How close to death she might be.

We'd taken to calling her "Skeletor". Her weight loss, though somewhat precipitous, was hard to gauge or notice until a certain point. Her fur hid it, or it was smooth enough to miss completely. But especially as (some of my) frustration turned to pity and compassion, and I started giving her extra cuddles & lovings, I realized how bony she was.

It started making some sense, you know? She could die and we had to do something, at the least show her some affection. Because it had occurred to me amidst all our shouting at her and cursing her and shoving her out of our way as she'd nearly trip us with her neediness that if she did die I couldn't bear to let her die not knowing she was loved.

Maybe it was a frivolous concern, as non-animal-lovers might suggest. What's it to her. She just wants to be fed. If being cute and sweet to us will get us feeding her, she'll do it. And it might look "needy". If licking up residues in the sink is her only source of food or water, she'll do it. And it might look needy.

But realizing that--that I couldn't let her not be loved--went to the core of what it means to be an animal lover. She was alive; she was my responsibility; and, sure, it was nice to think it might help her, if only to ease her fear and pain if she did die.

Because, more or less, it doesn't really matter what love means to the animal when you get down to it; it's the act of loving the little beast. Of sharing moments, whatever the real teleology, and playing the part of friend or parent, and feeling like it might somehow matter. Maybe it's delusional, but its powerful.

Maybe it was just to console myself in case of the worst, but I cuddled and snuggled with her more than ever. I'd carry her around, stroking along her jaw with one or two fingers just like she likes. I'd take her to bed and encourage her to snuggle close--not that she needed any encouragement for that--. I'd speak softly to her as I held her over the paper mats as she puked (the side room's floor is concrete, much easier to clean than carpet; talking to her seemed much nicer than just holding her or tossing her in there before she spewed).

Meanwhile, we/the vet finally figured out the cause of her puke. It wasn't hairballs (not at that point anymore), it was a food allergy--to non-wild-game food. We started her on a new diet. Two cans a day. I swear, wear she put it all I'll never know. She's still tiny.

And hungry. Oh so fucking hungry.

Don't misunderstand me. I love the little brat. But she's annoying sometimes. I swear she didn't used to be this chatty--read: loud & needy--before. But now, the moment she gets a little hungry--yeow yeow mreowyeow, and getting in the way of our feet or up on the counter.

But we're still feeding her at least a full can a day. Those larger cans--the ones about 3" across--. She's back to a healthy weight, easily, but still thinks she needs more food.

And right now, due to a clerical error, we're out of her food. It's only been a day--less than, actually--but jesus god she is all up in my grill.

Which is kinda funny. Another development of all this? She seems to have become especially attached to me. She always seems to come to me first when she's hungry. She snuggles up on top of me when I go to bed--whenever I go to bed and even when I sleep on my side (I told you, she's little). And she pokes my face with her paw when she starts getting especially desperate for food. It's cute and annoying. But that's pretty much Cali in a nutshell.

She'd be a lovely cat--she is gorgeous, and she is sweet...--if she'd just shut up, really. If she could just wait until my parents pick up more of her special food. But goddamn if I can't help but still love this little kitty, even as obnoxious as she is.

She may be a little troublemaker, through and through, but she's my troublemaker.


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