With only a few rare exceptions, it seems that she has a stomach made of steel, metaphorically speaking, of course.
And as much as friends and colleagues warned me about volcanic eruptions of hairballs and everything that comes with them, Ivy has been pretty good in that department as well.
Funny enough, it’s when she is nervous about something, whether it is change, disruption, car rides or temporary relocation that I can almost guarantee that she will need to barf… three days later.
Why three? I don’t know.
But it isn’t a problem, it’s not her fault. That’s her stress reliever.
If that’s her way of doing the Taylor Swift “Shake it off” to move on with her life, all I can do is to empathize and to clean it up. Having experienced anxiety issues leading to severe knots in the stomach and eventually throwing up, I completely understand. Like father, like daughter.
When I see the puddle and she looks up at me, all I can do is to softly pet her and say sweetly, “I’m sorry honey, that’s OK. I know you’re not feeling well” and to get to work cleaning it up.
I know the pattern, so I remain vigilant. After a potentially disruptive event for Ivy, first thing when I get up and first thing when I get home from work, you can see me slowly walking around and scanning the territory like an animal in the wild. You’d think that I was on the lookout for predators, when in fact I am just looking for puddles of vomit.
Along the way, I start wondering why no one has invented a vomit detector. Imagine if you will, a metal detector but with a heat and humidity sensor on the end that beeps as you get closer to a puddle. Wouldn’t that be clever and save people from the inevita…
And there was my answer. We already have the invention. They are called feet. If you can’t see it, you’ll probably step in it. “Clean up in aisle 3, please” I thought to myself, as I ran for rags with my toes pointing straight up to not stamp out more vomit on the floors leading to the kitchen.
Fortunately it only seems to happen 2 or 3 times per year, such as when I’m gone on a trip, or my schedule is a little topsy-turvy (like in December) when her meal times and sleep times are a little inconsistent.
But where my crystal ball needs to go in the shop for recalibrating, it is in the prediction of when things might be rushing through the other end.
Did a can of her regular food suddenly not agree with her? Did she eat something I didn’t see?
How can a tough street cat who was found eating from garbage cans suddenly have an adverse reaction to her regular diet of laboratory formulated food? It’s hard to say.
But as a regular consumer of late-night Cheerios, it only takes a split second for me to look away only to find Ivy in stealth mode, jumping up on the coffee table licking whatever milk is left at the bottom of the bowl.
Everything I have read says that cats and dairy don’t mix, so I have done my very best to discourage this habit and to not leave the bowl out. I have even resorted to quickly gobbling down my Cheerios in the powder room, behind a closed door, to avoid the third degree of meowing.
But in an early episode when I looked away, I caught Ivy swooping in and “pre-washing” the bowl for me… and nothing happened.
I wondered if maybe she was different from most cats and maybe she would be OK with dairy after all.
These are dangerous suppositions, I’ll tell you right now.
She definitely enjoyed milk. When she was meowing every time I opened the fridge door and following me like a vulture with every bowl of Cheerios I prepared, I started to wonder if dairy offered her something nutritional that she was missing.
Another dangerous supposition, I’ll tell you right now.
One day, I had some leftover cream after some holiday baking and decided to experiment to see if Ivy was OK with it. I poured out one teaspoon in a little bowl. It was gone in a millisecond.
And nothing happened the next day.
To make a long story short, over time, the teaspoon became a tablespoon, which became two, which became a little treat, 3 times per week. And nothing happened. This continued for a few weeks during which time Ivy became a fast fan.
A month later, my good intentions backfired, literally… for four days. The no-dairy rule finally caught up to us. Fortunately for me, she made it to the litter box almost every time, and the other time, it landed on a washable surface.
But in its aftermath, we had a new problem. Some residue from her “trots” was caught in her fur. I’ll just let you ponder the resulting sensory experience for a moment.
At first, the most logical solution seemed to be to follow her around with toilet paper to clean up the area she wasn’t quite able to groom herself. I was able to tidy things up, but there was still some dry residue on the tips of her fur in that area. Another solution was needed.
I didn’t want to wait until it grew out, and I didn’t feel comfortable running after the cat with my barber scissors (the whole “running with scissors” thing is an accident waiting to happen), so I ran to the pet store instead in search of kitty shampoo, knowing full well that a bath would have her shrieking like the shower scene from “Psycho”.
As a counteroffer, the knowledgeable clerk suggested that I go to the department store and buy some inexpensive clippers and just shave off the “dirty fur”. What a great idea!
It was… until I turned on the clippers. The unfamiliar vibrating noise had Ivy out of the room faster than when I turn on the vacuum cleaner.
It was only at the next meal time that I saw her in the exact position that might make this operation easier: face down, bum up, attention focused completely on her food.
At the next meal time, I grabbed the clippers, aimed, quickly turned them on and zzzzip, zzzzzip… It took only took a few quick strokes on the ends to successfully remove the residual bits of dirty fur.
I would not delude myself into thinking that I might have a future specializing as an animal bum groomer but it was still incredibly validating at Ivy’s annual checkup, when the vet said, “Nice job”.
It is interesting how dealing with situations like that can tell us something about ourselves that we didn’t really know in the B.C. (“before cat”) years.
When “crap” like that happens, I found myself to be a calm, supportive companion to help her through it. I don’t freak out, I don’t gross out and I don’t blame her.
All I want is for her to be happy, healthy and to stay with me as long as possible. I think she truly senses that when she looks up at me with her big green eyes, yawns, stretches and falls asleep in my lap in a state of complete calm and serenity.
Maybe I’m reading too much in the heart-shaped cat litter clump, but I’d like to think that the feeling is mutual.
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Have a great day,