Sunday, July 11, 2010

Concerns provoked by the past

I'm discovering that having such a young kitten is only partly a joyful experience. Maybe it's because I'm an HSP (highly sensitive person), maybe it's because 22 years ago a too-young kitten died in my hands, but I find myself as much worried about Franny as delighted by her.

She is very small and about a pound underweight. The vet proclaimed her healthy on Friday but now she's sneezing (upper respiratory issues are epidemic among shelter animals) and her stomach and intestines are upset as well. She's eaten very little today and she's a cat who should be drinking 3 chocolate milkshakes made with half-n-half a day in addition to some fried chicken and a couple of Big Macs.

The experience with Albert, a small orange cat from a animal shelter in Virginia (a basement with cages and a give away policy), was heart-breaking. I was thoroughly immersed in my drinking, coming to the end about a year later, and I took pretty good care of him, but I was drunk and working and consumed with the antics of my philandering boyfriend and while I noticed that the kitten was not eating much, I didn't see any other symptoms. After I'd had him about two weeks, I went away for the weekend. My landlady, who had cats of her own, put food out for my two but didn't stay to see them eat. When I got home late Sunday night, Albert was lethargic, listless, limp. I held him all night and he died in the morning before I could get him to the vet. I had an autopsy done, hoping he had some heart condition or symptom-less disease, but all the vet could find was that he had zero percent body fat. He had starved although short of force-feeding him, the vet wasn't sure anything different could have happened. "Sometimes they just don't live," he said.

The experience with Albert is one of the most painful of my drinking years and it is also making me hypervigilant about Franny. I want her to eat lustily, play heartedly, purr loudly, and be strong and healthy. I knew she was small when I got her but assumed the Humane Society was on top of health and fitness for adoption. But after I got her home, I realized that in a cage of five kittens, who's to know if one is a puny eater. Isn't fighting her way to the food dish. Is sleeping too long.

I'm glad it's Sunday night, glad that the intestinal symptoms and not-eating showed up today and not yesterday, glad that the vet is there tomorrow. But I feel haunted by the past and at a loss as to what to do with my anxiety.

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