“What is wrong with Garfield?” I ask the Bearded One over and over all weekend. Our little 6-year-old tabby cat is not in obvious pain, but he hasn’t meowed since Friday. Usually we’re trying to get him to pipe down. He doesn’t get out of bed, except for when I vacuum, and then he just hides under the bed.
“The Blahs have overtaken him,” the Bearded One diagnoses. “That’ll be $325.”
Our kitty just stares straight ahead for hours. His ears don’t even twitch.
He’s gotten up twice to pee in his litter box, but he is very slow-moving. He stops and crouches, like he’s dizzy or has an excruciating headache.
It’s the darkest weekend of winter and we conclude this is worth watching closely, but not necessarily a doctor thing. We don’t go to vets much. He’s stable, and we both keep the vigil. He needs to drink. I haven’t actually seen him drink in two days.
“Maybe he fell off of the house,” the Bearded One says and I’m surprised. I hadn’t considered a concussion, I tell him. “No need for a cat scan,” he says. We’re both trying to keep it all in perspective, and I appreciate the humor. I do.
Maybe some tummy germ made it in. I’m in shock over the Newtown shootings of children and miss his cuddling and meowing more than ever.
This is a cat that has an immediate and loud opinion about everything. Something has slammed him.
* * *
Whenever there’s a gap in the rain, Pearl goes out into the upper pasture and climbs Goat Mountain.
I can see her from the house, standing up there scanning the horizon.
She sees me looking out the window again. Things aren’t injury-free in the goat world, either.
LaLa is limping this week. It has improved a bit, but when I first saw it, it looked like he was going lame. The other goats love to slam into him recreationally, especially after we feed them twice-daily grain for energy. Sage and Pearl catch LaLa against the edges of the barn doorway. Looks like he got a leg or a foot hung up this time.
Every time the Bearded One comes in from the barn I ask him, “How is LaLa?”
“Sedate,” he answered. “They’re all sedate. It’s pouring rain.” They do not like getting wet. They like lying in the barn chewing hay. Growing fleece. Passing time.
I pull a carrot out of the wet winter soil for LaLa. It’s flame-colored and smells rooty. Carrots are all that’s left in the garden, the last crop to come out before I spread the compost and some spent goat hay over the beds.
Last Friday, the Bearded One dumped the last of 34 wheelbarrow loads of finished compost on the beds, and it’s still sitting there. For me, Friday was making the third and final batch of fruitcake, and then my energy left and Garfield got weird and all three goats rejected the carrots. Everything has seemed a little bleak since those children died. And Garfield stopped meowing.
On Monday night, I put a little cap-full of water next to Garfield on the bed, hoping he’ll try it. No.
The Bearded One does not complain when he notices the small water dish on his side of the bed, which I appreciate. I want Garfield to at least see the water. Then it’s 10pm and I cradle him in my arms and take him out to the hut and gently put him in his cat bed.
Now it is 5:15am and won’t be light for three hours. I’m up early. I notice the lightness from the living room windows, and feel the rush of the first dusting of snow! I tiptoe carefully out to the hut to get Garfield, secretly fearing that he died in the night and hoping that he did not.
I open the door and gasp. Garfield is rising up out of his bed. “MEOW!” he says and stretches.
“Good morning, Garfield!” I sing out. I scoop him up and kiss him. Then I take him into the house and kiss him some more. I put him on the couch and he crawls into my lap and gives a tiny little purr. I pet him for a few minutes, and watch him noticing the shadows in the room. He holds his little body steady.
Then he leaps down. And crouches. Not too fast. This isn’t over yet. Somehow he’s used up one of his nine lives, and he knows it. Finally he walks to the water bowl and drinks.