Twenty minutes later we were back in the exam room at the vet’s office. The vet commented on how much better the cat was looking. I just starred at her in disbelief. I thought, “Why is she not freaking out? How could this situation possibly be treated so nonchalantly? The cat’s butt is hanging out for crying out loud!” Then she slipped on a glove, added a little lubricant and popped it right back in as casually as if she were merely wiping the bangs from her face.
She had obviously done this before.
The vet said, “It is called a prolapsed rectum. It was most likely brought on by the cat’s diet going from starving to well-fed. It may or may not go away on its own. If not she will need surgery…”
“Wait just a minute. What did you just say? It may not go away? But you just made it go away. You mean it’s going to happen again?”
“Oh yes, Most likely it will continue to happen every time she uses the litter box. You’ll need to push it back in.”
“SAY WHAT? You want ME to do WHAT?”
“It would be best to deal with it just as quickly as it happens. Otherwise it may not go back in. We’ll put her on a diet of tuna and cottage cheese to hopefully loosen things up.”
So now not only would I be preparing special meals, applying salve to its eyes and drops in its ears I would also be pushing its butt back in every few hours. All this for a cat I didn’t even want in the first place. My mind quickly returned to the cornfield. Maybe I could just put it back? But there they were; the vet, the technician and Aaron staring at me, again.
I left there with a box of latex gloves and for the next several weeks everywhere I went so did the cat. We were inseparable. I couldn’t leave it home alone for long periods of time because if its butt fell out, it needed to be dealt with as soon as possible. It served as quite the lively topic of conversation at the family reunion when one of my cousin’s kids spotted the cat hanging on the porch screen, mooning everyone so to speak.
She used her charms to schmooze her way into the fold of family life. Aaron, of course, loved her. There is something very tactile and soothing about a cat. She would let him carry her around like a rag doll and pet her as long as he wanted. She loved it when he would cover her up with a throw; you could hear her purr clear across the room. He thought that was the funniest thing ever because he also loved to hide under the covers. The weight of the layers has a calming affect for those with autism. It is said that all cats have Asperger Syndrome. Cats certainly don’t feel the need to conform to social conventions. That very well may be why they hit if off so well. They were two peas in a pod.
Even Lucy grew fond of her. I thought it was odd that these two natural enemies would bond so easily until one evening when I caught the cat flinging leftover chicken wings off the kitchen counter to the dog below. Everyone knows the way to a Beagle’s heart is through its stomach. This made them best friends instantly.
After you shove someone’s butt back in for them a few times you start to develop a relationship. It didn’t take the cat long to figure out I was the bringer of food and the fixer of butts. The cat was not fond of all the procedures by any stroke of the imagination, but it was almost as if she knew I was trying to help her.
After a few weeks of fine dining on gourmet tuna salad with a side of cottage cheese while using up an entire box of latex gloves, she was finally healthy. It was time to take her to the shelter. I didn’t want a cat. I didn’t ask for a cat. I sure as heck didn’t want a sick cat. But whether I wanted to or not, somehow during the course of her treatment, I had become her Mama. She needed me.
As I watched Aaron lie next to her one evening on the living room floor wrapped up tightly in a blanket like a burrito with only his eyes showing, I realized she wasn’t going anywhere. The disheveled, the seemingly-unlovable and the miserable deserve some tolerance and acceptance. Their quirks and idiosyncrasies are part of what makes them worth saving. With a little love, encouragement and intervention early on, the rest of us can sit back and enjoy the unique individuals they become. We don’t go looking for them, but we sure are blessed to have them in our lives.
It’s time to give her a name. I think we’ll call her Ethel—Lucy’s partner in crime.