It’s a pain in the ass, living with someone elderly.
They demand things their way. They don’t shut up. They struggle to use the bathroom, necessitating a lot of cleaning. They fight with younger members of the household. They require special food, special pills, special patience. It’s enough to make us, their caretakers, mad as march hares.
I am speaking, of course, of my fifteen-year-old cat, Bandit.
It’s an inexact science, but the first two years of a cat’s life are analogous to the first 25 for a human. Each year after that adds four (roughly) of the feline variety. This makes Bandit a septuagenarian. The old fellow seems spry and alert, though with his mileage, there is of course wear and tear.
See his lean body? Weight loss is common in senior cats, and it can be serious. I give him high protein canned food. It keeps his weight up — and my checking account down.
His lazy left ear? He once had an aural hematoma, which occurs when fluid collects in the flap, or pinna, of the ear. The fluid was drained, but the ear will never be the same.
His cloudy right eye? A trick of the camera. He isn’t blind, though cataracts or glaucoma could be lying in wait, like a highwayman.
As for why he is on top of a refrigerator, why he will spend the rest of his life that high and higher . . . we’ll get to that.
I found Bandit when my daughter, who was then fourteen, was helping me collect empty boxes from a recycling area. She stopped working, her senses on high alert, like a gazelle at a stream, and claimed to hear a kitten mewling.
We located said kitten, who appeared to be just a few weeks old. She, naturally, asked to take him home. I demurred because we already had five cats, and though a sixth wasn’t likely to erode public confidence in our sanity — you can’t scoop dirt from a hole — I didn’t want to take the chance.
Bandit’s life has made him rough around the edges, and a little unhinged.
“Well,” answered my little negotiator, “can we take him home just for tonight? Then we can take him to a shelter tomorrow.”