April 26, 2009 § 3 Comments
Charles has been weaning Fitzroy off dry food (all the vets, including my sister, say it’s not good for cats) by hand feeding him tidbits of bluefish, chicken and liver. The cat is indisposed to eat real food but when it’s minced very small and squashed onto the end of Charles’s finger, it becomes acceptable. I’ve always felt sentimental about those stories of nursing orphaned chimps with fingers soaked in milk, saving the tiny creature’s flickering life, but my cat is 1 year old and strong enough to run like a wild thing around the apartment at 3 a.m., rip the leather off the couch, then sprawl like a melting butterscotch sundae on my bed; he doesn’t need hand-feeding.
On the other paw, Charles thought I was joking when I suggested raising goldfish in the kitty fountain and letting him catch his own dinner. OK, maybe I was joking, but not entirely. The fountain isn’t big enough to sustain a cat’s nutritional needs and he probably wouldn’t eat them anyway, just bat them out of water and leave them to rot under the bookshelf just as my stepson used to do with his lunch 30 years ago. But if I had more room…
Yesterday, Charles had a long argument with the lady in the pet shop about whether it was wise to take the cat on a leash to the park. I’m not in favor because I don’t think it would be sufficient: cats like to roam free, not sniff grass with a doting owner and a crowd of strangers commenting on their every move.
Still, just because I don’t want to do it myself doesn’t mean I think it would do any harm. The lady kept saying things like, “My 3 year old nephew wants to stay up all night watching horror movies; that doesn’t mean I let him.” Do 3 year olds really want to watch horror movies? The ones I’ve known didn’t clamor for that until they were 6 or 7. Eventually, they become able to spend entire weekends watching slasher flicks and Euro porn while drinking beer and tequila shots, if they so choose. When they’re the age-equivalent of a 1-year-old cat, I mean.
I hate it that domesticated animals can’t have lives of their own. Farm animals should know the pleasures of sunshine, wind, grass, mating, and breaking out of the pasture or pen once in a while; pets should have unsupervised hours. In the 1970’s, my mother’s dog Morgan used to wander every morning up to the grand seaside hotel in our New Hampshire country neighborhood and walk through the lobby greeting staff and visitors like the resident dignitary he was. 10 years before that, my cat Ricky ran away from the nice couple my mother gave him to when she moved us from the suburbs to Manhattan. He lived alone in the woods for a couple of years—mourning his lost harem of 3 female cats and me, or so I believed—and I respected him greatly for his self-sufficiency.
I’ll never get a chance to respect Fitzroy. He’s my pet, my comfort, my ward. And Charles, frustrated grandfather whose grandchildren all live too far away, is happy to spend hours feeding him from fishy fingers even as he refers to him as Little Lord Fauntleroy.