Saturday, March 19, 2011

A week away for our eldest "daughter"

The firstborn in our household is Lucy the Tuxedo Cat. She was actually my parents' cat waaay back in the day (she's 12 now), but then I inherited her several years later when my parents split up and my dad sold his house. When Chris and I started dating almost 5 years ago and he found out I had a cat, he thought that might be a dealbreaker as he is quite allergic, however for some reason Lucy didn't bother him. She very quickly won over his heart with her lap snuggles, "bread making", love of cardboard boxes and willingness to be the butt of jokes. We've given her many appropriate as well as random nicknames (such as Socks and Rosemary), created songs about her ("Black cat in a little cat, nine lives!) and endured several hefty vet bills. She ticks us off at times (for example, when we find her lapping at one of our cereal bowls when we've left the room for 30 seconds) and she's basically our "dead-beat roommate" (as Chris lovingly refers to her), but she's our eldest "daughter" and she's a member of the family!

We wondered how things would change once our first real daughter came into our lives. How would Lucy adapt to having a needy, often loud little person around all the time? Would she want to be around S, or would she begin to retreat into the background? What would S think of Lucy? Would she inherit our allergies? (Indeed, something we are concerned with now.) We had lots of questions about the two of them together, however not so many about our own attitudes toward Lucy. It turns out that this may be the biggest change of all, at least for me. She has gone from being my baby to being "just a cat". That's not to say I don't love her anymore, however her prominence and the amount of time I actively spend with her has certainly diminished. I don't hold her as much, I'm quicker to lose my patience with her and I don't notice her endearing and quirky little qualities and actions as much asI used to. I feel kind of bad about this when I think about it, however my guess is that this sort of transition is extremely common if not inevitable when a woman becomes a mommy. I was chatting with a friend about this and she said she went through the same thing with their family dog when they had their little girl. (Perhaps this is how the expression "Man's Best Friend" originated...?)

We recently found out that Lucy has hyperthyroidism, which is quite common in older cats. We've been managing the condition daily with medication, however recently we learned about a procedure called radioactive iodine therapy which is safe, effective and relatively affordable, and results in a permanent cure. The one downside of the therapy is that the cat becomes radioactive for a period of time, so must be quarantined until radiation levels are accepable, which is usually about one week. Chris and I discussed the pros and cons and decided to go for the treatment, which is offered at the Thames Valley Veterinary Services in London. We're taking her there this morning.

I haven't really worried too much about it. Sure, it won't be the kitty equivalent of a 4-star hotel she's residing in, however they'll take care of her, we'll get email updates and she'll have her special food and a couple familiar objects from home. Plus, the TVVS employee I've been speaking with says that most cats go back home physically and emotionally just fine. I even went so far as suggesting that things would be "easier" during the week Lucy's away, as she won't get into S' gym and other gear that we have spread out on the main floor. Chris, however, has felt a lot more anxiety and sadness over the whole thing. He admitted yesterday that he might be depressed today after we drop her off, and he's worried that the experience might "break" her. Again, the difference in our attitudes is likely reflective of the change that S brought on, as in the past I may have felt more similar to Chris.

Right now, S and Chris are still sleeping and Lucy's lying on the couch with me as I write this, purring away. It's moments like these when I feel the closest to her and I feel a bit wistful for the days when she was our baby and she got all the love and attention. I do feel that she's a resilient cat, however the upcoming experience will certainly be trying. Good Luck little TuxCatSox, and may you dream of butt pats and big bowls of Cheerios while you're away!


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