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I’m feeling very guilty today. Truth be told, I don’t need any other emotions mucking up my mind and body right now. I’m doing overtime trying to keep the other 48 in balance. They are churning around causing me to huff and puff when I walk down the street. My doctor says it’s all in my head — anxiety driven and thus in my control to eliminate. It sounds so reasonable when I’m sitting in her office. I don’t really think I’m being anxious about anything until I feel my shoulders inch their way up to my ears and my arms, legs, and back start to freeze up and ache like I’ve just done three hours of exercise and my breathing starts to sound like the Big Bad Wolf blowing down one of those houses. I know it all has to do with this moving business. But knowing the cause doesn’t mean living with it is any better. I do my best, I really do.

But the guilt doesn’t have anything to do with the anxiety attacks — or at least I don’t think it does. It has to do with the Fat Cats or, rather, one in particular. I’m sure I’ll feel guilty about the other one soon enough. This Guilt is all centred on Ms. Rose, aka Miss Muffett. She’s been hobbling around here months now. That’s when the guilt slipped in and started to settle in my gut. One of my friends was here one day and said, “Ann, she’s hurting. You should take her to the vet.” I justified my inaction by saying that she would let me touch that leg and move it around without a whisper of protest. Surely that must mean she wasn’t hurting. The limp did not go away. I made an appointment.

The trouble is, or one of them, Rose hates going to the vet. And she hates even more the confines of a carrier. I went out and spent a lot of money on a new carrier, thinking her vanity would overcome her hatred and she would really want to get into the confines of this new mesh, royal purple temporary home. The woman at the pet store told me that this model, with easy top loading, would make it an absolute breeze for me to put the Muffet into the carrier. It did not go well. As I got her hind quarters tucked in, she’d pop her head out and then get one foot — not the limping one — onto the zipper with the intent to drag the rest of her out of there and into the tiniest, most remote hiding place she would find in this house. I persevered and got the zippers all in place which only enraged her more so she tried to escape by destroying the mesh of the carrier. The nip I had sprinkled inside, obviously, was having no effect whatsoever.

I tried to mollify her pissy-ness by telling her we were going by taxi, wouldn’t that be special. She just hissed and started to rock her body back and forth in the hope of toppling the whole thing over, dislodging the zippers and escaping. It was not pleasant for either of us. But we had an appointment to keep with destiny.

I really like this vet I found. The first thing he did was put Rose on the floor so he could see how she was walking. It made sense to me but Rose, instead of cooperating with his plan, made a beeline to the underside of cabinets to hide. But he was too fast for her. She was not amused by his sweet talk when he picked her up. She let him prod and poke her and then he put her on the scale. I wanted to leave the premises knowing what was coming. “7.2,” he said. I tried to believe it was pounds but the reality of her roily-polly self knew he was talking about kilos. He didn’t say anything to me but that didn’t keep the guilt from seeping in.

The fatness seems to have just happened gradually or maybe when you live with fat cats you stop noticing — until you try to pick one of them up and throw your back out. It’s all because they were so skinny and underfed when I got them. Those early months in that

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Nick (back) and Rose — The Early “Skinny Days

alleyway in Chinatown showed all through their bony exteriors. I remember one of my friends saying to me in an accusatory manner, “Ann, you have to fatten those cats up. They are starving.” I felt guilty even though I’d only had the bloody cats for three days. Thus began the fattening up of Nick and Rose.

They knew how to schmooze me into giving them treats and filling up the bowl with more crunches. I was a sucker for pleasing those little animals at the beginning even when they broke the lamp, pushed all the books off the bookshelves, destroyed the underside of the mattress and pulled the stuffing out of the couch.  The trouble is that I never really took note of their growing girths even when friends and neighbours made not very pleasant comments about Fatty Fatty Two By Fours and the growing, wobbling tummy on Rose as she walked.

But now, the guilt has caught up with me. There in the vet’s office when I finally figured out that her weight was indeed in kilos not pounds, and the vet told me she had arthritis in between her vertebrae and, most terrible of all, her leg problem was degenerative joint disease. “She would feel a lot better with less weight on her joints,” he pleasantly told me while he stroked Rose who was giving me the evil eye. I know this stuff. Didn’t the bone doctor tell me the same thing. Every pound overweight is like 30 more pounds on your knees. It must be the same for cats. Of course, Rose doesn’t feel guilty about eating all that food but did give me accusatory looks that this pain is all my fault.

I don’t know if it’s too late to teach old cats new tricks, nor do I know if I’ll be able to stand the complaining from Rose when less food is put on the floor, but I’m going to try in the hopes of easing her pain. I told her I was sorry for letting her get so fat but sorry just doesn’t do it.

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Rose in All Her Glory

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