They say the best things in life are free. I would agree that the purchase price of the best things is nil, nada, zip. Where they get you is on maintenance.

Let’s review.

We have two cats. They are the light of our lives. Two sweet, loving, adorable angels. To look at them is to know happiness. They remind us every day about what is important – and it all boils down to one thing: comfort. To Henry and Natasha, Art and I are but soft furniture and feeding machines. Don’t get me wrong – They love us for that. They’re very cuddly and affectionate. (Natasha more than Henry, actually, owing to her being female and Henry being all boy).

Both Henry and Natasha came to us free of charge. We rescued Henry from a life as a farm cat (which in his case would have been short and brutal; he’s a lover, not a fighter). Natasha simply appeared in our car port one day after Christmas, 1991, when there was a downpour outside. We tried but could not find an owner for “her highness”, who is a Siamese mix, very regal, and was even regal at the tender age of six months.

For both of these kitties, it started out easy. We bought commercially available foods from the supermarket, Johnny Cat, a couple of boxes for the Johnny Cat, and got them in to the vet for annual exams and shots. Once a month we gave them a flea treatment. That was it. They were happy. They didn’t even want toys! Their favorite playthings were brown paper bags.

Now that Natasha is 13 ½ years-old and Henry is about 9, things have changed. (Please refer to my earlier blog about “The Warranty” – I guess it holds true for all creatures, great and small). We have come to find out that Natasha is asthmatic with the beginnings of renal disease, and Henry has complete renal failure.

I now keep a rescue inhaler for Natasha. Furthermore, over the years, Natasha has had to have an ultrasound of her heart twice and a couple of lung X-rays, not to mention a myriad of blood tests and urine tests for both of the kitties. The doctor presents his bill and I about faint. On top of that, both kitties now require special food and kitty litter that can only be bought through the veterinarian. I have to run up to the vet’s office about twice a month for supplies, and pray that they haven’t run out again. They always try to give me an itemized receipt when I am leaving the vet’s office. I always tell them to forget it. Unfortunately, the government is not enlightened enough yet to allow us to write off Henry and Natasha as dependents, and veterinary bills are not considered legitimate medical expenses. (Sigh). I shudder to think what we might have done with the money we’ve spent on veterinary expenses.

On the other hand – as they say in those credit card commercials: Vet visit: $400.00. One month’s supply of cat food: $80.00. One month’s supply of Eco-Fresh kitty litter: $25.00. Cat sitter when we travel: $10.00 a visit. Henry and Natasha: Priceless. I don’t know where we could possibly get so much for our money.

I am convinced that Henry and Natasha (not to mention my mother’s pooch Mugsy, my sister’s black Lab, Princess, my other sister’s cat, Shadow, and on, and on) all of them are the real angels on earth. I have an unshakeable conviction that they are sent to us on a mission of mercy to add warmth, comfort, compassion, and tons and tons of humor to our lives. That’s why even psychotherapists have begun to bring “therapy animals” to their sessions. Animal companions are the most amazing medicine!

I’ve got to wrap this up because I have to get Natasha to the vet for her annual exam. I know that whatever it costs, it will be worth it. And I will be grateful to the good doctor for his expertise in helping to keep her with me for as long as possible.

I’ve been thinking about a dog.

 Category: Robin's Nest

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