There is No Such Thing as a Free Cat

By Barbara Cohea

I learned a lot of things from my dear departed father and one of those is, “There is no such thing as a free cat.” When he said it, it had something to do with eating lunch. My father spoke in parables and as time passed the lunch part morphed into there’s no such thing as a free wheel alignment, a free wifi connection, a free trip to Arizona, or a free cat. Which, of course, means all of my cats have been “free.”

Of all my free cats, Ra is the best and most expensive. Believe me when I say, if I had to choose between dragging the drowning ex-sister-in-law of my first ex-husband into the life boat or saving Ra . . . it would be the cat every time.

Over the years Ra has cost me the equivalent of two colonoscopies depending on which private health insurer you have and what hospital you go to. For me, that’s about $3,000 total. Although, if I lived in Oregon I hear it would be closer to $1,200 and I’d have four colonoscopies left. Whatever! That’s a different story.

Anyway, I’m sitting here drinking coffee surrounded by $34 worth of cat oral care products and having flashbacks to Ra’s $538 vet bill because he had a tooth resorption necessitating a tooth extraction. His teeth have cost more than mine and now I’m supposed to brush his teeth. And his sister’s teeth. The vet gave me a helpful brochure complete with a full-color picture of a snarling open-mouthed cat with a “Warning! 30 very sharp teeth. Enter at your own risk,” disclaimer at the bottom. Seriously, I have the brochure to prove it. Let me just say, that does

nothing for my self-confidence, yet I applaud their truth in advertising.

I’ve got poultry-flavored, salmon-flavored and tuna-flavored toothpaste, two different toothbrushes, a rubber finger tip with tiny bristles, and a piece of gauze to wrap around my finger–must be to stanch the bleeding after Ra bites me. Oh, it says it’s an if-all-else-fails fallback; I’m supposed to rub it over the angry cat’s teeth and “let’s not forget” his gums. I really wish they had a section called “when and how to subdue your cat” (perhaps a tranquilizer dart in the buttocks?) or maybe “there is no shame in quitting,” now that would be useful. Also something about what to do when the cat’s head starts spinning like that girl’s in “The Exorcist.” I love that movie. They did some extensive cat observing to get all the demon moves just right. But no, it’s all let your cat taste the yummy toothpaste and then “introduce the toothbrush.” I can see it now.

“Hello, Ra. I’m your cat toothbrush. You can call me Morry. Can I please brush your teeth while you sit quietly and act like you’re a dog?”

“Hi, Morry. You have to catch me first!”.