Saturday, November 03, 2007


I have two roomates.

I gave birth to one of them 25 years ago. She's cute as heck and lots of fun but pretty much rarely seen in person, with the occasional wrinkled towel or missing bottle of Frappuccino as the only tangible evidence of her actual existence.

The other one was born some years later on a Marine Corps base in Virgina and came to me via short stops at Camp Pendleton in California and an old brothel-turned apartment in Kansas City, Missouri. Yeah, Mr.Binks the Cat has led a pretty interesting life. The two of them are great friends.

The subject today is the health of Mr.Binks, specifically his runny nose and sneezing. The physical symptoms developed this spring. I was worried and dutifully took him to the vet. After the expected pokes and prods, the vet confirmed Mr. Binks had allergies or perhaps a virus, neither of which would be cured by any drug. The diagnosis and conclusion took about 5 minutes.

We were trapped in the vets office for another 20 minutes as he sternly lectured me on the state of Mr. Binks physical presence, specifically his girth and weight of some 23 pounds. Clearly, he implied, without specifically accusing me, you are guilty of overfeeding Mr. Binks and he needs more exercise.

Well don't we all.

I took his advice to heart and agreed to the suggestion of my children that perhaps the answer was to invite a younger and more soulful, playful and energetic roommate into our home as a companion for Mr. Binks. So we got a kitten. Adorable. Playful. Energetic. Just what the Dr. ordered. All of us envisioned that the hours that I am gone for work each day would be hours of endless play and excercise for Mr. Binks. Yes, the pounds would melt away, he would be long-lived and all would be well.

I can't deny that the two of them were cute as heck together.

They actually looked like father and daughter. After the first few hours of hesitation and hissing, it really seemed like the whole thing might have been a great idea. There were a few cute and cuddly moments.

But they were precious few.

Over a period of 2 weeks the new little kitten went about doing what little kittens do. Running, jumping, climbing, hopping (like a rabbit, that is why I named him Bunny)and generally frothing up mayhem around the place until Mr. Binks was just about driven to the edge. Mr. Binks hates to have his tail touched. Bunny the Kitten discovered this and spent hours and hours each day hanging from it. She waited until he was sound asleep and then would pounce on his fat tummy, an activity that she clearly found delightful enough to repeat over and over. He was not quite so amused and after a week or so, he started hissing. Eventually I heard a few little help-me squeals from the furry Ninja-kitty and I knew Mr. Binks had endured enough of wearing hanging kittens as some kind of ornament.

Bunny the Kitten did not discriminate in her play and hung also from Sara and I. From our ears as we slept, from the backs of our heads as we tried to watch tv. She stalked us from beneath chairs and left multitudes of tiny scratches and bites all around our ankles. I showed up at work one morning looking like I'd been on a date with Edward Scissorhands. My hands, wrists and arms were a maze of scratches all of which matched nicely, the scratches on my neck, cheeks and ears. Both Sara and I took to sleeping completely under the blankets with our heads wrapped and covered in self-defense.

I don't understand it. Years ago I had a houseful of kids, cats, dogs and a variety of other furry things in cages. I went about my business, did the laundry, cooked dinner, got everyone off to seemed to work.

Not sure why it worked then and it doesn't now, but I know one thing for sure. It doesn't. Bunny the Kitten went back to live with her furry little brothers and sisters. I wish her well and bet she'll grow up to be a really swell grown-up cat.
Just not on my watch.

The dilemma then to engage Mr. Binks in some sort of aerobic activity and shed a few of those pounds the vet is so worried about. How, I had asked him straight-out, do you get a sleeping cat off the couch and into an excercise program?? Just pick him up and throw him on the treadmill????

I'm not sure we've found the final answer, but I bought Mr. Binks a new buddy that he seems to like alot. And the cool thing is that his new buddy doesn't hang off his tail, hang from my nostril while I'm trying to sleep or bite Sara's toes when she's walking up the stairs. He doesn't fight at all.

I'm no veterinarian nor expert, but I highly recommend a floating scouring pad in the sink as a great (and cheap!) companion.

Mr. Binks still has a girth-problem.

But he is blissfully happy as the sole and reigning King of the House.

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