A blog experiment by Brad Mills.


The old fleabag and the mortal coil

One evening shortly after visiting my brother over Memorial Day I found a flea on my leg. It jumped away upon discovery, of course, as fleas do. I didn't think much else about it at the time — since we keep a fairly clean house I just assumed it would die within a day or two. Plus, flea species are highly adapted to specific mammal species, and my brother has a dog, so I reasoned it was a dog flea and thus of no consequence in our feline household.

Except that my brother has a couple of cats too. We didn't see them much while we were visiting, but I did get to see my young niece glide down the stairway like a ghost to the basement one morning, a single-serve container of cat food in each hand, happy to feed the cats. If only I could inspire such glee in my own kids to take care of certain necessary chores... note to self, learn the secret my brother employs to this end.

Anyway, flash forward three and a half months, to around mid-September — and our cat scratching and biting at himself, and a few reports of seeing fleas in the house from one reliable witness and one unreliable one. After discovering (and killing) a flea on my leg Friday evening, I realized these reports were correct.

So off to the vet Saturday morning. This is around the time of year when Charlie gets his annual shots and checkup anyway, so I opted to just take care of that too... there's definitely no time to take care of that kind of stuff during the week anymore. The vet's office was pretty crowded and it was mostly a dog day. Charlie got examined, we got one of those back-of-the-neck flea treatments, I applied same, and just like magic, no more fleas. His gnawing and biting and scratching ended the same day, and after a weekend moping around and recovering from the shot (which is pretty normal for him), things seem back to normal as best I can tell.

Somewhere in the course of all this I realized this cat has quite a few years on him. He turns ten this spring. The average lifespan of an indoor domesticated cat is twelve to fourteen years... which means the inevitable is sneaking up on us, slowly, quietly. Puddie was almost twelve and was weakened to the point where he could barely hold his head up at the end. Despite relatively good health (with one notable exception), the clock is indeed ticking.

When the day comes, I'm sure the inglorious task will fall on my shoulders. And I'd not dare ask anyone else. I'm sure it won't be easy for me, in fact, I'll likely need to take that day off work and... well, mope around and recover, for lack of a better way to describe it. Mourn, I guess. But I believe better me than anyone else.

The old fleabag yakked up a hairball this morning, which of course I stepped in. So — for now — things are definitely back to normal around here.

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