Wednesday, September 04, 2013

My Cat is Rhetorically Effective

What is rhetoric? Sometimes I don't know, and sometimes it's hard to say, but a good working definition is that rhetoric as a field of study is the study of how language acts on the world, how words get us to do things. How being the key word. There are other definitions, but this is the one I find most useful. Kitty Girl also finds this definition useful though she has no facility for the production of words. However she does have a facility for language. Since March KG has been dealing with kidney disease. She's getting weak and thin and scraggly, and sometimes I wonder how long she has left. But she still gets around, meows weakly when I bring out the cat food, and sometimes displays signs of her old self, curling up on the end of the bed, or on my hip, or jumping on my lap while I write and say the words that I am writing outloud like I am doing now (she is not here at the moment). 

To care for her I inject her with a plasma solution every morning. Around 80 milliliters. I also add a substance called epakitin and an anti-acid to her twice a day wet food servings. She doesn't really clean herself anymore and spends most of her days under the bed. It's sad sometimes, but she still has sweet blue eyes, and she still smells good and is soft. And she still purrs when I hold her. Lately she has had trouble making it to the liter box, and the cruddy carpet square that came with my apartment and has been serving as insulation for getting out of bed on those cold Indiana winter days has become a mine field of little patches of cat piss. Gross, right? But that is what we're dealing with.

The kidneys, from what I understand, all us mammals have at a least a couple, process the fluids in our bodies. Everything we injest runs through the kidneys, where the kidneys absorb the nutrients or poisons or whatever, and basically clean this liquid and turn it into piss (which as we have all been told, is clean). Because KG's kidneys don't work, water goes in, but doesn't really get absorbed, thus two things happen: 1) she is constantly dehydrated (hence the plasma injections) and 2) she has to piss a lot because she keeps drinking water, and is always thirsty. In the last couple of weeks she has urinated directly in front of me a number of times, mostly on the carpet next to my bed while I'm laying in it. Not a lot of piss, but little spots. Everytime I say "goddamn it" and get out of bed, pick her up and take her to the litter box, get the towels and clean it up. In the last couple days, she has been pissing on my flip flops, which of course I only discover after I put them on, and I say, "goddamn it."

It all seems kind of hopeless and for the first time I'm thinking that maybe the time to put her down is near. Of course there is something entirely selfish and cruel about this, that this creature that has given me so much love and that I have loved so much, now that she is inconvenient, that I should just call the vet and be done with it. There are other solutions however. For example, getting another litter box and putting it a little closer to where she sleeps. 

Last night however, I figured something out. She jumped on the bed at four or five and I was dozing, but noticed that she was off the bed and again pissing on the floor. I picker her up and took her to the liter box. I got back in bed, and thirty minutes later she was pissing on my flip flops. I said, "goddamn it" and picked her up and took her to the liter box again. There was a strong smell of cat urine that I had only begun to notice because I had turned the kitchen fan off because the weather has gotten a bit cooler. Upon further investigation, I discovered that the little closet where the liter box lives stank of urine, and the reason was that the mat the box was on was soaked. I went to the internet, looked up how to clean up cat piss, went to the store, bought some baking soda, cleaned the closet, did a thorough cleaning of the liter box, threw down all kinds of baking soda, and the smell, when I came home from work/school today, was for the most part gone. KG had not peed on my rug today and I'm hoping that the reason she kept peeing was not because she had lost her mind, but because she was trying to communicate to me that her liter box was nasty, and that I needed to do something about it.

All this may make me look like a negligent pet owner, and I hope that you believe me when I say that I've been doing the best that I can. That said, the moral of my story is that KG is an excellent communicator. She knows how to reach her audience, and knows that if she continually pees on my shoes, she will get me to do something. Sometimes it must be hard to be a cat. Especially a sick cat. It's hard enough to communicate when we have words, but I wonder how hard it is when all you have is a leaky bladder, some broken teeth, and an old, scraggly body. They have no facial expressions, or very minimal ones. Their eyes don't tell us much either. They use their body, and their voice, and if you are Jinx, the other cat, you use your paws to poke at my arm or my face, to wake me up so I can make room for you on the pillow, so the both of us, together, can outlast the early morning cold. And so, this is a story of rhetoric. This is a story of how you get somebody to wake up and pay attention. Some of us are good writers, some good talkers, some of us are good at being cute, and some of us just have to piss on other people's shoes to get them to do what we want.