rough life
It is time for my cats’ annual checkup and vaccinations, so I load them into the cat carrier and prepare myself for the most stressful seven minute drive I endure all year. Alien mostly just works herself into a vegetative state as soon as I turn on the engine, making her body as small as it can possibly get or burying her head under the fleece blanket lining the carrier. Predator, on the other hand, takes a much different approach. He starts screaming and clawing at the door to his carrier from the second I buckle my seatbelt. There is nothing I can do to calm his cries, so I turn up the radio instead.
The woman at the front desk verifies my address and tells me to have a seat. I notice that the office is firmly divided between cat people and dog people, and I don’t want to make waves so I sit next to a woman talking in soothing tones to two boxes covered with dishtowels. Angel has an eye infection, but Cocoa is just there for moral support. And perhaps a nail trim.
“I found Cocoa four years ago. Well… he found me, really. Showed up on my porch one day and been with me ever since. Sweetest cat you’ll ever see, so calm, good natured. Angel, on the other hand…”
I open up the door to my cat carrier, letting Predator peek his head out and sniff the air. He is silent. Alien is a blue fleece lump. A stylish young man walks in and the screeching begins once again. I tell Predator to be quiet, but then realize that he wasn’t talking, it was that man’s cat.
A Siamese, I think. I’d know that voice anywhere.
He sits on the other side of me and notices Predator halfway out of his carrier.
“Oh, you have a Siamese, too? How old is he?”
“He’s seven. I knew yours must have been Siamese by his meow. How old is yours?”
“Magnus is seventeen! Can you believe that?”
As he says the word seventeen, he turns Magnus’ cat carrier toward me, and I regret to admit that I instinctively lurch backwards. I have never seen anything quite like this animal in my life, and am struck by the thought that it looks like a Picasso interpretation of a Siamese cat.
“He’s here because we think he might have cataracts. And he can’t walk very well, but the vet said his leg isn’t broken or anything, so they’re just going to give him a shot and see if that perks him up.”
I’m no veterinarian, but I’m pretty certain that Siamese cats are not supposed to have white eyes, so I mentally concur with the cataract diagnosis. Magnus also has a droopy lip on one side that flaps a bit when he meows, and since I’ve never seen a curly-haired Siamese before, I suspect he has mange.
Cocoa’s owner looks at us and says, “Wow! They could be twins!”
I think to myself, yes, they could be twins, if Predator were cryogenically frozen and suddenly reanimated in the year 2045 by his evil twin Magnus. In that case, they’re identical.
It is finally my cats’ turn for their checkup, so I lug the carrier into the back room and unload Predator onto the stainless steel exam table. I warn my vet ahead of time that he will hiss at her incessantly, but not to take it personally. He’s just very private.
“Is he having any health problems?”
“No, no. Well, I think he’s gaining weight.”
“Okay, let’s just get him on the scale by himself and see… Whoa! Yeah, he’s fat.”
I feel shame.
“So Predator is 15.5 pounds, and that’s up a pound from last year. What does he usually eat?”
“I only feed him dry food – Iams or Science Diet – and I give him a cup a day.”
“Whoa! Each? That’s twice as much as they should be eating!”
“But… but, that’s what it says to feed them on the bag…”
I feel shame.
She recommends that I don’t just immediately cut their diet in half, but supplement their meals with something that will make them feel more full. Something with fiber. Something like canned French cut green beans.
“Canned French cut green beans?”
“Yes, so many people have told me their cats love them.”
“Are you sure they didn’t say dogs?”
“Trust me. And you should really get him to exercise a little. You should buy multi-colored ping-pong balls, poke a hole in them, and put a few grains of rice inside. They’ll bat those around the house all day long.”
Or for thirty seconds, I think, until they roll under the couch, otherwise known as the catnip mouse burial ground.
I shrug my shoulders and pull Alien out of the carrier before shoving my morbidly obese boy cat back in. Alien’s exam goes much more smoothly, mainly because it’s like examining a person in a coma. She just sits there, staring at some distant point in space, imagining she is far away from the antiseptic smell and harsh noises of this exam room. I like to think that she can still hear my voice, so I hold her paw and tell her it will all be over soon.
“Alien is at a good weight, and her teeth are beautiful.”
I feel pride.
As I pay my bill and pick up their rabies tags, I nod and smile at Magnus’ owner, but avoid making direct eye contact with the cat. I just can’t bear to look. The trip home takes less than five minutes, because I am eager to get to the grocery store and start my cats on a high fiber, healthy diet.
As soon as I set the carrier on the kitchen floor and open the door, both cats burst out and run into the living room, only to return one minute later and crawl back inside the carrier to work through some sort of feline Stockholm syndrome.
At the grocery store, I am amazed to see how many versions of canned green beans there are, but I know that I must find the prescribed French cut ones. For a good forty-five seconds, I debate whether to buy the store brand or the Green Giant brand, and then am appalled that I would haggle over thirty cents when my cats’ health is on the line.
Back in my apartment, I call Alien and Predator to the kitchen and tell them I have a special treat for them. As soon as they hear the can opener, they start meowing and rubbing up against my legs, which I never understand since I can’t recall ever feeding them cat food from a can that wasn’t a pop top. Who has taught them to associate a can opener with food? Television, I suppose.
With a great flourish, I set down the paper plate of Green Giant French cut green beans in front of them, and they look at me as if I have just set down a paper plate of Green Giant French cut green beans in front of them.
They don’t even bother doing a courtesy sniff before walking away with their tails in the air.
I stand in the kitchen, dejected, and as I lean against the counter eating the remaining green beans straight out of the can, I make a mental note to find out where I can buy multi-colored ping pong balls.

21 Responses to “Physical”

  1. d Says:

    your cats are freaking beautiful. i was thinking about getting myself a siamese, but couldn’t pull the trigger because i didn’t want to get two, because i think i have a puppy in my future. three animals was too much, so i figure i’ll start with a dog.
    but i LOVE siamese cats!

  2. Robin Says:

    There is nothing worse than getting that “Seriously—are you kidding me?” look from your cat just before they turn their back on you and saunter away. They speak volumes with the “look.”

  3. asia Says:

    Willie is 12 pounds. Last year her doctor thought she would be healthier at about 9lbs and suggested a low carb diet of pure canned cat food and/or canned tuna. Willie so completely snubbed the new menu that Edison went hungry waiting for his turn at his own food bowl. I have pictures… big hunky dog like that looking helpless for his turn at the trough. Anyway, good luck. At least yours is fatter than mine.

  4. Dave2 Says:

    Cats are supposed to subsist on a half-cup of food a day and survive? My guess is that they will absolutely love those French-Cut Green Beans when faced with having to survive on a half-cup of food.
    In other news… you just saved 50% on you cat maintenance!

  5. sween Says:

    Being the father of two… hefty cats, I feel your pain.
    And am surprisingly craving green beans.

  6. Strode Says:

    Try warming the beans slightly.

  7. jenny Says:

    d: thanks! yeah, i’d agree that if you’re going to get a siamese, it’s best to get another cat as well since they’re pretty social. and extraordinarily loud, so that puppy might be a better choice…
    robin: don’t they though? so much disdain in one little glance.
    asia: nice. way to kick a girl when she’s down. my cat is just big boned!
    dave2: that’ll teach ‘em! i’ll be all, “starving kittens in china would love to get french cut green beans!”
    sween: i knew you’d understand, especially since your cat got stuck in your sink the other day.
    strode: interesting… i’ll give it a shot!

  8. Valerie Says:

    I think cats are genetically engineered to flock towards the sound of a can opener. My cats are genetically engineered to “sense” when I am handling lunch meat, even if I’m not making any noise.

  9. Average Jane Says:

    I had a green bean-loving cat when I was a kid, but I can’t imagine any of my current cats eating them.

  10. shari Says:

    Jenny, Jenny… you didn’t INVITE the green beans to the party in the kitties’ tummies! Have you learned nothing from my pain?!

  11. Dustin Says:

    Green beans? Seriously, I think the Jolly Green Giant has a little side deal with your vet. If she starts recommending fruit cocktail or pinto beans, you know the jig is up.

  12. claire Says:

    Hmm. I know I find green beans more appetizing when they’re french cut. Maybe your cats just need to see the alternative so they know you’re doing them a favor.
    Does your vet ever get confused by all the name changes your cats go through? (I rather like these latest.)

  13. jenny Says:

    valerie: lunch meat, huh? maybe i should try wrapping the green beans in bologna first. :)
    average jane: no kidding? so my vet wasn’t *totally* lying to me then.
    shari: well-played, eclectic. if only i could get my cats to do the green bean dance for me… French cut green beans! YEAH! In my tummy! PARTY PARTY! YEAH! In my tummy!
    dustin: i bet my cats would eat fruit cocktail long before they’ll eat these green beans. maybe i should try that next?
    claire: i should do a side-by-side comparison so they can appreciate the French cut. and my vet insists on calling my cats by their birth names, even though i’ve provided her with a list of aliases and known accomplices.

  14. Pants Says:

    My mom’s Siamese cat, that seems to have adopted me, is seventeen pounds. I have friends with smaller dogs. I’ll send you and Predator picture, if it’d make you feel better.

  15. jenny Says:

    pants: 17 lbs? photo, please! :)

  16. dee-dee Says:

    french green beans? really? my mom used to serve them with pork chops … maybe you should give that a try

  17. Jessica Says:

    OMG…there is so much brilliance in this post…
    “Yes, they could be twins, if Predator were cryogenically frozen and suddenly reanimated in the year 2045 by his evil twin Magnus. In that case, they’re identical.”
    “feline Stockholm syndrome”
    “Who has taught them to associate a can opener with food? Television, I suppose.”
    “I set down the paper plate of Green Giant French cut green beans in front of them, and they look at me as if I have just set down a paper plate of Green Giant French cut green beans in front of them.”
    Have I told you lately that I love you?

  18. jenny Says:

    dee-dee: i can see my vet now: “So Jenny, it seems that your cat now weighs 47 lbs. What have you been feeding him?” “Well, like you said. Just some green beans. With a side of pork chops and mashed potatoes.”
    jess: ah, you’re too sweet. will you be my valentine?

  19. Jessica Says:


  20. Lara Says:

    Ha! Man, how I know this feeling. At least they didn’t try to cover the green beans up – one of my cats does that when he doesn’t like something. Incidentally, I have a 22.6 pounder and a 17.5 pounder, and they are lovely. Screw the vet. (Yes, they’ve been on Iams “For Less Active Cats” for years. They’ve only started losing weight since we got a dog and moved into a multi-storied house. Short of buying a kitty treadmill, what else can we do?)
    Also, Hi! I apparently am a long commenter, because I am trying not to go into a spiel about how the cat I grew up with was Siamese and could meow my name.

  21. Chelsea Says:

    My dog is so bad with car trips. He’s okay for the first five minutes, but literally, as 4:59 passes he starts whining and shaking and drooling. Like he belongs in The Cukoo Nest

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