I had been looking after Oval for a few weeks and we had failed to properly bond. Then he started vomiting
When you are housesitting for someone who has a pet, your primary objective is to keep the pet alive until the owner gets back. Nothing else problems. Not you vomiting as you clean out the litter tray, or gagging as you inadvertently flick wet cat food into your hair, or contracting toxoplasmosis like the guy from Trainspotting.
Those things do not matter.
Just keep the pet alive.
On Monday- a public holiday in New South Wales- Oval-shaped started shaping weird noises, like he was burping.
” Stop being gross, Oval !”
Oval came into the bedroom, looked at me with disdain and started heaving and making spooky retching sounds . strong> Woahhoahha wooshaahhssa. His stomach was roiling.
OMG, Oval was vomiting. I was wholly grossed out but also worried. Had Oval eaten some caramel M& Ms that I had left out? Or swallowed a peanut?
Would I need to physically stick my fingers down Oval’s throat to remove the M& Ms/ peanut?” I would do anything for love, but I won’t do that ,” I reckoned but did not say, because Oval was within hearing distance.
Oval moved to a different part of the bedroom and left another pond of vomit.
I hesitated between empathy and disgust.
On my mode to the kitchen to grab some article towels, I stood then slipped in a patch of Oval’s vomit. I hollered. Oval continued to heave.
I had been looking after Oval for a few weeks and we had failed to properly alliance. Oval had never fulfilled me before and gazed shitty when on the second largest darknes I returned to the house. The search said: you again. And: where is my person ? em>
There had been other “cat-o-nine-tails” that I seemed after and good-for-nothing remotely like reciprocal respect was established.
Mabel( Newtown ): geriatric, always weeping and underfoot.
Poss( Fitzroy ): a purebred who disguises for the purposes of the bed.
C-Span( Manhattan ): an epic defecator.
But they had all lived.
With Oval spewing up bile I wondered: had I used up my nine lives?
As it was a public holiday I was unsure what to do with Oval. How does one transportation a sick feline to a veterinary, specially an unfamiliar feline. Does Uber take felines? Could I haul him in a container or a pouch?
I questioned my group chat( they offered nothing helpful) and then went on a meeting for people who had felines that vomited. It seemed to be a common thing. Cats just retched looks just like you and I cough or sniffle. Why didn’t I know this? They puked when their stomaches were empty, they upchuck when their stomachs were full. They upchuck when they had a furball.
I proceeded up to get some more newspaper towels to cleanse the puke and stole in another pile of puke.
Back on members of the forum I fell down the rabbit click gap for felines with depression. This perplexed me. How do you know a cat is sad, and how do you know the cat is just has become a feline? They have a limited range of expressions.
Oval had taken a infringe from his puking and looked at me with hatred and loathe. He then went back to throwing up. Maybe Oval was depressed.
It was so hard to tell.
Later Oval stopped vomiting and returned to eating his dry meat and playing with a paper bag. I cleaned out the cat litter, plummeting some cat shit on my shoes and saw FML.
The next day Oval looked like his usual depressed self, but at least he wasn’t spewing. I shut the door and set off to task before immediately realising I had locked my only fixed of its most important in the house.
I banged on the door.” Oval-shaped! Oval !” Oval said nothing. “OVAL!!!!!!!!!!!!”
The owner was in America and not responding to messages. Was this the week she was hiking in the wilderness? I rang some of her friends- did they have a spare key?
I rang a locksmith- there is no way to let me into the building unless I was the owner.
” You need a note giving up permission to enter plus the person’s ID with their address on it .”
That could take a week to get if the owner was on a hike.
” But, but, there’s a cat in there, he was able to starve. He will starve .”
I envisaged poor Oval, having feed the last of the dry meat, licking Dorito dust off the lounge, starving to death in the flat, exclaiming and get( even more) depressed as the litter tray remained unchanged.
As I reached out for ever more dubious locksmiths, as I contemplated ladders and smashing in entrances, I thought of the nice times Oval and I had shared over the past few weeks: when Oval made a bed in my knapsack, when Oval licked my hand, when Oval gazed at me with sleepy-eyed eyes and was like he wanted for nothing. When Oval was asleep. It wasn’t all bad. It wasn’t all vomit.
Over the course of the day, as I became more frenzied, as I prayed random locksmiths to break into the flat, Oval’s owner replied to my contents. There was a spare key with a neighbour.
I arrived back at 10 pm and tried to take Oval-shaped in my arms.
My baby was alive.
* Brigid Delaney is a Guardian Australia writer and columnist
Read more: https :// www.theguardian.com/ commentisfree/ 2018/ oct/ 04/ i-kept-telling-the-cat-to-stop-being-gross-but-he-just-looked-at-me-with-contempt