The girls behind the counter laughed when I said the cat had outsmarted me and she wouldn’t be coming to her appointment because I couldn’t find her. They said that it wasn’t the first time they had heard that story, not to worry about it. We’d just move straight onto the appointment for Moses whose only avoidance strategy was to drop 40 percent of his long white hair onto me. The vet was handsome in a shell-shocked sort of way (could have been in awe of my furry beauty).
I like to preface my Moses appointments with veterinarians by explaining that “Moses is his own man.” That helps explain the pine-tar in his fur, the spiderwebs in his whiskers, the all around dirtiness and frequent skanky smell of him. We love him because of and in spite of these things. But we have excused ourselves from responsibility for his general cleanliness.
He had fleas. I knew this. It’s an annual problem with Moses. Never the other cats. Just him. Comes from eating out of, and sleeping in the compost pile (he’s got a weakness for bananas and cantaloupe, swear to god), rolling in the dirt and hunting wild game. He’s his own man.
When we were discussing which options would be best, the doctor seemed pretty sold on a product called Frontline. You take the little vial for stuff and apply it to the base of the back of the neck, sort of between the shoulder blades of the animal. It soaks in and kills fleas for months at a time. It’s perfectly safe, he said. I thought about if I’d be comfortable using a mosquito repellent that could soak into my skin and kill bugs for a month…
I wasn’t convinced. He wanted me to treat Moses and all the other cats once a month for the rest of the summer and fall (until the first freeze). I explained that the last time I treated my cats with the poison-oil-on-the-skin stuff that it gave Moses dark thoughts. Because it did. I have told this to veterinarians in the past and they seemed to get it. I did some research on-line and found lots of complaints about neurological problems in cats treated with this stuff (5 years ago).
Brown-eyed-shell-shocked-white-coated Doctor looked at me blankly. No more than blankly. It may have been fear I saw in his face. But it wasn’t for Moses. “I don’t know what that means really, dark thoughts. Can you tell me about his behavior?”
He didn’t know what that meant. He didn’t know about Moses being his own man, either. He asked if I thought Moses might be around enough that I could treat him once a month. For those who don’t understand our relationship with Moses: He spends the night outside, he spends most of the days outside. He comes inside to eat, sit on any newspaper or book that looks like it is taking our attention, roll around nudging our toes with his nose until we pet him with our feet, and to climb into bed with whoever is still in bed after the door gets opened in the morning.
That last little habit seems to be related to the itchy welts my husband gets around his ankles a couple weeks of the year. They don’t bother me, but fleas love Andy. I got the treatments and treated the cat. He seems happier, no dark thoughts. And no fleas, either.