Pet care

Some years ago a Gentle Reader took me to task for not sterilizing a family of cats that had appeared under our deck. Not only did I not have their sexual organs removed, I even gave them water, though not food. My position at the time was that if it was my responsibility to sterilize the uninvited cats, I should also sterilize the equally uninvited squirrels, the occasional raccoon, and perhaps the possum next door. I was unwilling to maim another species and didn’t do anything, and the cats eventually moved out intact.

Spock, our late dog, was unfixed to the end. Spock’s life was no doubt affected by his whole genitals, and I have no reason to think the experience was anything but positive. I’ve certainly enjoyed having my genitals on me at all times—I think a little empathy warranted here—and I expect Spock did, too. I know he did at least once, and the puppies were stunning.

Now I’ve got this kitten, see—Hobbes. My son got him from a guy with three of them in a cardboard box at the Farmers Market. I’m the grownup, though, and I feed Hobbes and maintain his litter box, and it was immediately clear that if Hobbes is to have any care beyond cuddling I’ve got to do it.

My son thinks shots are unnecessary, and of course he’s right. Hobbes might do just fine with no shots. I guess that’s what my parents thought about Tag.

Oddly, I’m not crystal clear about what went on when I was nine or so, after Penny, our Cocker Spaniel, had puppies presumably sired by King, the Alpha free dog in our neighborhood. Anyhow, Penny whelped and I ended up with a puppy, Tag, who was black and white and managed to look a lot like Tippy, a stuffed animal from earlier in my saga.

After several weeks Tag stopped eating, his eyes got rheumy, and the vet in Roseland said it was distemper and there was nothing he could do for Tag but put him to sleep. He said that all Tag had needed was a shot and he would’ve been all right. He never got the shot, though, and the vet said we probably picked up germs on our shoes or something and the germs made Tag so sick that it was better to kill him than let him suffer, and he was gonna die either way. We left him there on that steel table, and my father stayed while my mother and I went out and waited in the car.

Janice and I resisted inoculations for the boys for a few years, until the system wore us down, and we gave in. I think human inoculations far more likely to be vehicles for totalitarian mischief than cat shots, and I remember the heartbreak of leaving Tag on that table in that room, so I got Hobbes the recommended injections. He may be a zombie for the government, but he’ll be a healthy zombie. Sterilization is a separate issue. I hear that males’ spraying is fairly stinky, which sounds unpleasant and yet may be bearable. We’ll see.

I have six lines in the Butcher Shop Theatre Festival at eight pee em August 29, 30, and 31, 2500 Estes Road, at the end of Normal Street at an almond orchard near the creek, just follow the road.  Free parking for bicycles.  Look at

One comment so far

  1. Oliver Steinberg says:

    Vaccinations are not an evil plot, they are examples of science making life for ordinary humans safer and healthier. Smallpox and polio once killed and maimed, but now are nothing to fear (except the stockpiles of lethal microbes maintained by germ warfare maniacs within certain military establishments.)
    Two people in my family were afflicted with polio before the vaccine was available. We younger ones got our shots and dodged the iron lung. There’s a vaccine for chickenpox now which will not only prevent children being miserable, it will probably diminish the later-life affliction of shingles. Measles, mumps, and whooping cough can kill children or in the case of mumps, cause sexual sterility in boys.
    Be informed of course; we who are old enough recall the “swine flu” fiasco in the ’70’s, but please don’t be afraid or unwilling to get vaccinations for one’s self, one’s family, and one’s pets.
    Distemper and rabies are real threats. The story of L. Pasteur and his work in devising vaccines against anthrax and rabies should be known to all; less publicized is the story of Onesimus, held as a slave by Puritan preacher Cotton Mather. Ever wonder why a reactionary like Mather was one of the first advocates of smallpox inoculation? It’s because Onesimus told him about it and described how it had worked in Africa.

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