I lay in bed nestled between the Fat One’s left arm and chest, but I can’t sleep. Momma is very sick, and I am beside myself with worry. And scared.
Over the last several days, Momma has gotten sicker and sicker. She’s always tired, her belly is very tender, and pus is coming out of her kitten-maker. But she keeps herself groomed and pretends to be ok when the Fat One pets her.
She’s taken to laying belly down on the Magic Pad That Makes Warm in our day bed in the Big Room with her front and back legs splayed out. She says the heat makes her belly feel better. She’s also drinking lots of water. It hurts when she pees, and she lets out quiet mews of pain when she goes.
We cats are very stoic by nature. When something happens to us, we try to keep going as usual, hiding whatever the issue is. I can’t blame the Fat One for not noticing Momma’s condition. She did everything to hide it and pretended there was nothing wrong.
But she finally reached a point where I knew something had to be done. I tried to tell the Fat One that Momma wasn’t well. I stood at his desk chair and loudly meowed that Momma was in trouble. He looked down at me as he worked and said, “I can’t play right now, Tiddles. I’m under the gun to get this project done!”.
I frowned at this. I didn’t want to play! The Fat One needed to come look at Momma! I meowed louder. Then I bit the Fat One’s pants leg and pulled on it. “Momma needs help, Fat One!” I demanded between clenched teeth.
The Fat One looked down at me and frowned. “What in the world is wrong with you, Tiddles?” he exclaimed. I said nothing and kept pulling on his pants leg.
Finally, he got up. I let go of his pants and ran over to Momma. I looked back at the Fat One and meowed urgently, “Momma needs help, Fat One!”.
“Shh, Tiddles!” Momma chided me, “I’ll be better in a day or two!”. The Fat One came over and sat in front of the day bed. I looked at Momma, then back at the Fat One. “Help Momma!” I cried.
The Fat One patted and stroked Momma’s head. Momma pushed her head harder into the Fat One’s hand and started purring loudly. The Fat One smiled and said, “You’re such a good girl, Nancy. I guess Tiddles thinks you need some pets!”.
After a bit, he stood up and went back to his chair to start working again. I didn’t know what else to do.
That night as we went to bed, Momma had trouble climbing her stairs to get on the bed. The Fat One didn’t see it though because he was in the little room with the porcelain chair. He came into the bedroom, undressed, and got into bed. Momma laid next to him, as usual, with her left paw and head resting on his chest. I lay behind her with my left front leg gingerly over her because I knew she hurt.
In the morning, the Fat One awoke. As usual, he gave us pets and strokes, but suddenly he stopped. “Why is the sheet wet?” he asked in surprise. He rolled on his side. Down by Momma’s bottom, there was a large wet spot and lots of pus on her kitten-maker.
“Oh, my god!” the Fat One cried out in shock, “Nancy! What is going on with you?!”.
He gently rolled Momma on her back. He looked at her bottom and gently stroked her belly. As he did, more pus came out of her. Momma cried out in pain, “Please don’t do that, Fat One!”. The Fat One ignored her and examined her belly, pushing a little harder.
“I don’t feel a mass.” he murmured, pressing her belly. Suddenly, Momma hissed and loudly growled, “STOP IT, FAT ONE! THAT HURTS!”. Then she bit him.
The Fat One jerked his hand back. His eyes bulged and his mouth fell open. So did mine! In all the time since Momma came to live with us, she’s never even raised her voice, let alone hissed and bit!
The Fat One leaped out of bed and hurriedly got dressed. He ran out of the bedroom. I heard him go into the back room. He reappeared holding our carrier. Setting it on the bed, he opened it and gently lifted Momma up. Placing her in the carrier, he carried it out the back door. In a moment. I heard his white box on wheels start, back up and drive down the driveway.
I sat on the bed in total shock. I didn’t know what to do. After a bit, I jumped down and walked into the kitchen. I had no breakfast, but I wasn’t hungry. I ambled about without purpose until I jumped up on the couch and just lay there thinking about what had happened.
I didn’t move all morning. I kept worrying about Momma. The longer the Fat One was gone, the more worried I became.
Eventually, in the afternoon, I heard the white box on wheels return. I jumped down from the couch and raced to the window by the Fat One’s desk. Standing on my hind legs, I looked out. The Fat One got out and opened one of the back doors of the box. He reached in and pulled the carrier out. Yay! Momma was home! Maybe the Evil Vet made her better!
The Fat One sadly walked to the back door with the carrier. I ran to the back door as he came in. He silently walked to the couch and set the carrier down. Then he sat on the couch and put his head in his hands.
I eagerly ran over to the carrier to see Momma. But it was empty! “Where’s Momma?!” I cried in anguish. I stood in front of the Fat One and urgently cried, “Where’s Momma, Fat One?!”.
The Fat one lifted his head and looked down at me. Reaching down, he picked me up and sat me on his lap. I stood with my front paws on his chest and looking at him, I loudly meowed, “Where’s Momma?”. He put his arms around me and pulled me close.
“Your momma is very, very sick, Tiddles.” he began quietly, “She has something called ‘Pyometra’. It’s an infection of the uterus. Older, unspayed female cats can get it and it is very serious. It’s life-threatening.”.
I listened to what the Fat One said, but I didn’t understand his words.
“Nancy is so sick, I took her to the emergency hospital where you went when the mastiff hurt you.” he continued. (Ed. note: See Fade to Black part I)
“Pyometra is very severe and the ovaries and uterus should be immediately removed to save the cat’s life. But a mini-outbreak of Covid has over half the vet staff sick and they can’t operate on her until tomorrow morning. Between that, her dibeetus, and age, it’s a terrible situation. She IS over 18 now.”
I just stared at the Fat One. I couldn’t believe my ears. The Fat One pulled me closer, and I put my front legs around his neck and hugged him close, my head resting against him. The Fat One slowly rocked back and forth.
“I should have known something was wrong with her.” the Fat One half-sobbed, “You even tried to tell me. The vet said that because of their cleaning rituals, cats can hide the symptoms. But I should have known!”.
We stayed like that for a while, consumed in our grief. Eventually, the Fat One set me on the couch, stood, and went over to the kitchen table. He began rolling a cigar. Instead of running to the door and begging to be let out, I jumped onto the kitchen table and laid down, sadly watching him. His hands were shaking, and it took him forever to finish rolling.
I jumped down and followed him to the door. He opened it and we both went outside. The General was lying in a sunny spot on the porch. As the Fat One went to his green chair, the General jumped up and trotted happily over to him to get his pets and strokes. The Fat One glumly obliged.
Afterward, the General, smiling, came over. Not seeing Momma, he frowned and asked, “Where’s Nancy, Tiddles?”.
“Momma’s very sick, sir.” I glumly explained, “The Fat One took her to the Evil Vet. She’s so sick that she has to have an operation.”.
The General puzzled over what I said for a moment and then quietly asked, “What’s an ‘operation?’”.
“It’s something hoomans do to us to make us get better.” I explained, “They make you go to sleep and then cut you open and do things inside you. When they’re done, they tie you closed with a piece of string. I had to have one when I fought the mastiff that tried to attack Momma.”.
The General got a look of horror on his face. “They cut you open?!” he asked, shocked. Then he asked in surprise, “You fought a mastiff?”.
I laid down on the porch. The General joined me. I told him about the day the Mastiff tried to hurt Momma, our fight, and how I had died and came back to life. He sat there with bulging eyes and mouth open as I described those times.
“You died and came back to life?!” he asked in disbelief, “How is that even possible?”.
“I don’t know, sir.” I replied, “But that’s what the Evil Vet said.”.
The General sat mulling over what I said. “Attacking a mastiff. That’s the bravest thing I’ve ever heard.” he said with admiration.
“It was going to attack Momma, sir.” I stated matter-of-factly.
He nodded his head in understanding.
His cigar finished, the Fat One stood and went inside with me trailing him.
We went into the Big Room. As the Fat One settled in his chair, I looked over at my sunny spot. But I didn’t want to lie down in it. I needed to be close to the Fat One. I stood on my hind legs with my front paws on the seat of his chair and quietly meowed. He looked down, picked me up, and sat me in his lap.
He stared at his screen as I lay there. Suddenly, he yelled, “YOU’LL GET IT WHEN YOU F**KING GET IT! I HAVE MORE IMPORTANT THINGS TO WORRY ABOUT!”.
His outburst startled me, but he stroked my back to calm me. After a bit, he went back to work.
Later, he fed me my supper. I ravenously tore into my crunchies. Partly from missing breakfast. Partly to soothe the worry I was consumed with. The Fat One didn’t make anything for himself. Instead, he ate human crunchies from a bag and stared off into space.
He worked some more. Eventually, he stood quietly and said, “C’mon, Tiddles. Time for bed.”. I followed him as we went back to the bedroom. After undressing, he got into bed and turned the light off.
Even though I’d always slept snuggled between his left arm and chest before Momma came to live with us, it felt odd sleeping that way now. This was her place.
I looked up at the Fat One’s face. He was laying there, eyes open, staring at the ceiling.
Staring into the silent dark, we both eventually fell into a fitful sleep.
PS Photograph for illustrative purposes only.
Ed. note: To learn more about Pyometra, click here.