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Price of Unconditional Love


Why is it that cats get no respect? Are they really the Rodney Dangerfield of the animal world? Dogs get the esteemed title of "Man's Best Friend," while the domestic felines seem to be bastardized as temperamental annoyances. Sure, they can be finicky creatures, as I've heard numerous complaints over the years from guy friends that they have had to pass the "cat test" before getting any play from the female owners they are pursuing. If you are nice to them and bring a fuzzy toy or yummy treat (the cats, not the women), you will have them wrapped around your finger (and her wrapped around your body) in no time. As a male with cats, I have found that my pets are great chick magnets. Of course, I have to actually get the women in my home to see them since I cannot take the cats out for a stroll in the neighborhood, but once the hard part is done, it's smooth sailing from there. The only concern here is that she likes the cats more than me!

I have nothing against dogs, but I have always lived in apartments, which is much more conducive for raising cats. I currently have two furry pals, Ghost (an all-white, male Scottish Fold) and Betty (a female with black and orange tortoise coloring), and I am still mourning the loss of Cali (the calico), who passed away last winter. Having never been married, they are truly my children and I spoil them as such. They pretty much rule the household and I just pay the rent. With them around, there is no need for a clock, as they regularly let me know when it's time to wake up and when it's time for feeding (the latter more intensely than the former).

If I had one complaint about my cats (other than the excessive summertime shedding), it would be that they can become money pits as they get on in years (not unlike dogs, I would guess). Ghost is a creaky 15-year-old and Betty is a spry 10-year-old, and we had quite a visit to the vet last month. Ghost was scheduled to have a couple of teeth pulled and Betty went along for the ride to get a check up. During the pre-tooth-pulling examination, we discovered Ghost had a heart murmur. The vet wanted to run some blood tests and possibly do a cardiogram on him before putting him to sleep and risking him never waking up again (God forbid), so he dodged that bullet for now. He thinks he's in the clear, and I haven't spoiled that dream by telling him that the car ride to the vet is the least of his worries.

While checking out Betty, the vet found that she had some teeth that needed extracting, as well. Since she was also on Ghost's pre-surgery fasting diet, Betty was the (un)lucky one to have the oral prodding this day. It was extremely difficult to see her lying there anesthetized, looking like road kill, so soon after holding Cali in my arms while she was put down. But the truly heartbreaking part of this ordeal was watching her try to wake up, stand, and walk. She looked absolutely miserable as she cruised the apartment like a drunken sailor, bumping into walls and falling over. It may sound comical, but this was my precious little girl, and it hurt me to see her suffering. (I later got over the suffering part once I realized she was dopey from the painkillers I was giving her. While on the subject, can I tell you how cruel it felt to force open her sore mouth so I could administer the drugs? Not fun!) I did manage to get her off the painkillers before she got hooked like many Hollywood stars and had to check in to the kitty version of the Betty Ford Clinic.

In the end, this day of mirth and joy at the vet devoured my bank account. The examination and blood work of both cats, plus four teeth pulled, antibiotics and painkillers set me back over a grand, and that's not including the cardiogram and possible tooth extractions for Ghost that are coming up next week. Am I complaining? Hell no; these are my kids and you can't put a price tag on unconditional love. If they are happy and feeling well, then there's more kitty love for me.

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