Claws in the contract

For better or for worse, adopted 12-year-old cat is all mine

To me, my 12-year-old tabby, Mottyl, is the cutest thing on four legs.

An SPCA rescue from way back in 2000, my funny little companion — with her gorgeous calico markings and bright green eyes — meets me every day at the door, comes running when I call her and usually has herself planted in my lap before I’ve managed to completely sit.

Like I said — adorable.

But then, perspective is everything.

To most other people, I suspect she registers as little more than a blurry ball of fur, covered in teeth and claws.

Let’s just say that when it comes to making a first impression, she’s not so pretty on the inside.

It’s a bit of a running joke at my house. Some poor, uninitiated sap wanders in and soon finds Mottyl winding herself seductively around their ankles.

“Don’t fall for it,” I warn them.

Every. Single. Time.

“I wouldn’t pet her if I was you,” I say in that sing-song voice that implies, “you really ought to listen to me.”

They never do listen, though. Which is why I always keep a healthy supply of Band Aids in the bathroom cabinet.

I haven’t been sued yet and I always get a good laugh out of it, so it’s a win-win, really.

And by that, I mean I win twice.

But 12 years is a long stretch in cat time. It has turned my feisty kitten into a crusty old lady and, recently, it began taking its toll on her kidneys.

Not to worry,  though. It’s nothing that $1,000 in vet bills, two kinds of medicine mixed into her expensive new food and twice daily oral doses of laxative and pain killers can’t control.

The smile on the vet’s face was kind and sympathetic as she broke the news.

My grin? Probably a little more plastered on.

Teeth, a wee bit more gritted.

More than the bill (though, I won’t lie, it threw me for a loop) the prospect of dealing with this every day for the rest of her life was a bit of a tough pill to swallow.

And trust me when I tell you she doesn’t jump into my lap, open her mouth and say ah, when it’s time for her medicine.

But when I signed her adoption papers a dozen years ago, it was a promise to take care of her, whatever that entailed. She depends on me to look out for her and to treat her with kindness — not to drop her in someone else’s lap (or a back alley dumpster) when things get rough.

Our contract goes both ways: I agree to keep her in a steady supply of kitty litter and she agrees to track it into the bathtub and underneath my bedcovers.

Now, as I embark on my long-awaited two weeks of summer vacation, needless to say, I’ll be sticking pretty close to home.

Full-time geriatric medical care isn’t really something you can dump on a cat sitter — particularly one who is already at risk of being flayed from the knees down.

Maybe there will be a quick trip here or there, but I imagine I’ll be at home most days, chasing an animal — one that is all too wise to my game — around the house like an idiot.

So, to those of you who know where to find me, I issue a standing invitation to stop by for a chat and a glass of wine on the patio.

You can call first or drop in. Whatever.

Just don’t pet the cat.

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