Friday, February 10, 2006

The Wounded King

Monty--the senior male cat in our household that's now full of cats (4)--has had a rough week. The vet called it a fever of unknown origin.

Mon has lived with us since 1998 when Christine saw his picture in the newspaper - one of those Pet of the Week shots from the pound. He's always seemed invincible, so it's been tough watching him suffer through an illness.

King of the Cats
In Shadowland, Peter Straub's myth-rich novel of magic and mystery, I was introduced to legend of the King of the Cats.

The core element of the story seems to suggest that the average household tabby might have a richer-than-suspected background.

To tell it briefly: A man recounts to his housemate that he witnessed a funeral procession of felines with a tiny cat coffin decorated with royal markings.

Upon hearing the news, their cat, seated on the hearth, announces: "That means I'm now king o' the cats," and shoots up the chimney to claim his post.

Fancifully, since we don't know Mon's heritage, I've always held he is a king in exile awaiting restoration of his throne. House of Orange, don't you know?

Sofa throne
In the interim my sofa fills in. Other than an occasional tussle with young upstart Oliver--which he strangely loses in spite of an age and weight advantage--he presides over everything in kingly fashion. (Speaking of tussles with welterweight Oliver, I think that may have pinpointed the fever's origin, though the vet couldn't find evidence of an abscess.)

With the fever, his eyes grew sunken; he was listless and stopped eating. It made me conscious of his mortality. At age 8 or so, I’ve expected to have him around a while, and to date the biggest challenge to that expectation has been the struggle to diet him down from door stop poundage.

When a heavy round of antibiotics didn't have an impact I started to grow worried. I was relieved the vet had tricks up his sleeve that I couldn't find on the Internet. It's a real source of gloom and doom when you Google "fever" and "cat" and get past the Ted Nugent and Pantera references. (Rest in peace Dime Bag Darrell.)

Two consecutive afternoon vet visits for I.V. treatments finally broke the fever, and he started eating again last night, though we were armed with a syringe and nutrient goop if that hadn't been the case.

It was cause for celebration. His sidekick and court jester, Ash, cut capers. Even Oliver the Usurper took a moment to lick his head.

I'm glad I didn't have to give up a friend, though I'm sure somewhere a royal feline pretender still quakes a bit.

And Mon's next-in-line of succession probably hated the news that traveled on the wind: “Long live the king.”

(Re-edited 3:30 p.m. 2/11)


Anonymous said...

Having a sick loved one is such a stressful situation. I'm glad that the king is on the mend.

I'm curious to know if you have written many cat stories.

Sidney said...

Just one actually, a mystery short story with gardening elements as well for a collection called "Crafty Cat Crimes." It features a fictionalized version of my the one female cat in our household, Miss Daisy. It's called "Miss Daisy and the Rosary Pea."

I started another called "Miss Daisy and the Jerusalem Cherry" but never quite worked out the plot.

Maybe one day though...

Unknown said...

Hope Monty gets feeling better soon. We've got four cats as well. Wonderful animals. :)

Sidney said...

Thanks, Kourtney. Yes, ours are wonderful and very affectionate. The vet is keeping Mon on antibiotics a few more days but generally he seems better.

Patty said...

We are cat poor. Here at any given time the pride is about 11. Not counting the strays that get dumped "in the country" I know how it is when one isn't feeling well.
Cats are the only pets that each have their own quirks and little ways to let you know they are boss.Hope yours gets well soon

Jude said...

Great blog! I love your cat.


Sidney said...

Thanks for the thoughts. He continues to improve. The vet wants us to keep giving him antibiotics for seven days, but Monty is really behaving more and more like himself every day. Both his good habits and bad are returning.

Shauna Roberts said...

You're right—Monty looks a lot like Susato. Susato even had a similar smile.

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