Thursday, June 28, 2018

It's A Hell New World


When Isabel was little she wrote a short book called "Cat School". The first chapter was entitled, "Kitten Chaos - It's A Hell New World". Yes, she spelled "chaos" correctly, but was hilariously off with her attempt at "whole". Yet, weirdly she was also unintentionally perceptive.

Up until a month ago we had one dog and two cats. The two cats got along with each other well, united in their hatred of the dog, and the dog generally stayed out of their way, so it was a reasonably balanced little domestic ecosystem. Then Lily arrived. It's a hell new world.

Lily is an incredibly beautiful little Siamese cross and she is also the living embodiment of Leo Tolstoy's wise maxim, "It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness." Lily is badness, pure badness. From the very first day these few small ounces of cuddly fluff launched a terror campaign of such energy and ferocity that everyone - the cats, the dog, the kids, Lorraine and me - were caught completely unprepared. She moves so quickly that she appears to teleport. One second I am eating my dinner peacefully, the next second Lily's face is in my plate. Toss her off the table and instantly she is back. Again. And again. And again. One second Gabi is grooming herself peacefully, the next second Lily is on top of her, biting her ears. One second Orbit is munching his breakfast, the next second Lily is in his bowl and he is looking up me, mournfully. One second a picture is on the wall, the next second it is on the floor. One second a vase is... well, you get the idea.

As the internet people say, O... M... G... So, Lorraine and I are both veterinarians and between us we have 56 years of experience. Yesiree. For those combined 56 years we have given all sorts of calm, reasoned, sage advice to pet owners in similar straits. I am here right now to confess that none of this advice works in my own home. At least not yet. Doors are being kept shut to provide refuges to the other cats, toys are being accumulated at a manic pace, kids are being coached to occupy her, but it's still a demented circus around here. Probably the smartest suggestion we got was to get a second kitten to occupy the first. Intellectually I know that this would likely help, but I tell you, psychologically, it feels like we would be pulling the pin on a second grenade after stupidly doing so once already. Not happening.

So to bring this full circle, why did we get a kitten at all? Some of you have heard me advise that two cats is ideal and that three or more is pretty dicey, so what gives? We got her for Isabel. Isabel went from being that happy little girl, singing to herself and writing wacky stories, to being a teenager laid low by crippling anxiety and depression. She has missed so much school that the year is a wash-out. It's the last thing I expected and it's the hardest thing to watch. The sense of helplessness is immense. And then Lily came into Lorraine's clinic from a rescue shelter. Any other time I would have said no. Any other time. But Isabel was at her very lowest and the only spark I had seen in her in weeks was when she saw Lily's picture. And despite all her kitteny badness, Isabel loves her, really really loves her.

This isn't a tidy heart-string pulling story where the kitten saves the girl. If only depression were so simple. Isabel still has many bad days, but you know, there are some good ones now too. Is Lily responsible for any of this possible progress? I have no idea. For the rest of us it's still a hell new world, but for Isabel, hopefully perhaps the first steps to a whole new one.

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful blog post Phillip!! Well done and blessings to your family and to Isabel. May Lily grow out of her badness sometime soon...really soon!?!

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