I’ve never gotten the whole pet thing. I mean, yeah – I had them growing up and I was pretty into it. But now that I’m an adult, pets = pet hair everywhere + unplanned vet bills + cleaning up poop. And I was kinda optimistic that my poop-cleaning days were behind me.
Once I called my friend Beth to go for a run, and she blew me off because it was her weimaraner’s birthday and she wanted to go on a “special birthday run” with him. I hung up the phone ready to break up with her. What a freak, I thought.
My friend Susan will describe in great detail the expression on her bulldog’s face when she talks to him (which she does, on the phone, in her puppy voice). When she does this, I want to shoot myself.
This summer, however, in an effort to stave off my begging-for-a-dog family, I agreed to adopt two kittens. I actually don’t mind cats. They’re fairly self-sufficient and don’t sniff in impolite places. Plus, they can be cute. Two days later, I was in Petsmart when I spotted this kitten:
I called my husband and told him I was pulling the trigger. I had to have this kitten. The long hair poking out of his tiny ears melted me. We picked out an adorable playmate for him — a cool-looking tabby that kissed our noses. We brought them home and named them Angus (the tabby) and Finnegan (the hairy-eared darling).
Finnegan – or Finny McFinnster as we called him — made us laugh daily. He ran crooked, constantly skidding across floors. Whenever I got on my computer, he jumped up on the keyboard and start purring in my face. Then he’d settle down in front of the keyboard and suckle on my shirt sleeve. I think he was taken away from his mother too early. I think he thought I was his momma. It felt nice to have a baby in the house again.
Finny got fat and messy. His tail got big and fuzzy, like a raccoon’s. We made fun of him, calling him “The Fat Raccoon.” With his massive weight gain, I started carrying him around on my hip, like a toddler. Maybe I should get out the old Baby Bjorn, I thought.
Meanwhile, he just kept getting fatter and fatter.
Last Monday I decided he had gotten too fat and should get checked- out. He could have a thyroid problem or need to go on a special vet-formula diet. I made an appointment with the vet.
Laughing at his fatness, I put him on the vet’s table and told the vet to get a load of his girth. “I think my cat needs a personal trainer.” I laughed. The vet took one look at him and said flatly, “Your cat is ill.” Turns out his fat belly was fluid retention from an inflammed liver. Finny had a disease. He was going to die within weeks.
Two days later, we put my fat, raccoon kitty to sleep. He only had five months in our house to run crooked, skid across floors, and purr on my keyboard. Life feels fragile now. My chest is heavy. I can’t bring myself to wash the shirt I wore to his appointment. It still has his messy hair all over it.
My vet sent me a single red rose with a rainbow card that talked about meeting up with your pets in heaven. Instead of mocking it, I cried.
Today I pick up his ashes to put in my garden next spring.
So yeah, the whole pet thing? I get it now. Rainbows, kitties, puppy voices and special birthday runs — I totally get it.
RIP Finny McFinnster.