15 December 2014

TC Tribute Week: The Story of Laddu

(After TC passed, I began thinking a lot about our relationships with our pets. How it can be one of the closest, most emotional partnerships you can have and yet, how so few people can know that part of you. Messages and comments about other people's beloved animals came pouring in privately to me and that's what gave me the idea of having a TC Tribute Week here on the blog. I got four writers and cat owners to write about their fantastic felines for me--some gone over to the other side, some still with us and living to delight, and I will be posting those over the space of this week. If you'd like to leave your stories of pet loving in the comments, please do, so we can all be unashamedly loving about our companions this week. I'm sorry for leaving out dogs in this tribute, but dogs already get so much good press, it's time our cats got a chance too.

First, we have a Twitter friend of mine, Khizra Munir, whose cat, Laddu, has the same thing that TC does. Did. I follow Laddu's journey on Instagram and Twitter--all CRF survivors are bound together by how little we can do about the disease, and I also get great pleasure out of Khizra's descriptions of her crazy cat life, with FIVE at home.) 
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 One of the most difficult parts of being a person to a cat or dog is that you have a heartbreaking rough estimate of exactly how long this relationship is going to last. If your pet manages to make it unscathed by illness. For a year now I’ve been making daily (now every other day) trips to the vet with my 9 year old tabby, Laddu. 


Three days a week my quivering ‘baby’ and I make the somber drive to the vet, are instantly recognized and directed inside where our set up of a saline sub-q(drip) is ready. He shivers through the whole ordeal, with his head hiding in the crook of my shoulder.


But, on the drive home, he’s back to his normal self; he purrs, grooms, and occasionally walks around doling out head bumps. He knows we’re going back home.


This commitment of time and effort…we didn’t sign up for this. I don’t think anyone does. But we all understand that it comes with the territory. The same way parents understand that with the milestones and joy, there is also heartbreak and illness to deal with. A year ago when our vet, who adores Laddu, quietly told us his Kidneys were failing, my mother and I cried. Standing there in the middle of her clinic, we cried for our poor baby, who was already such a trooper as a blind cat. At that moment, it just seemed so unfair that this was happening to him.


We also cried because we understood that there was no cure for this. There was only a way to slow down the process, if we were lucky to have him respond to the IVs. And we were. He responded with a “Yes, I want to live” attitude!


Laddu is a beautiful tabby with some hints of shady business in his breeding which is evident in his extra fluffiness and poofy tail. He literally walked into our home as a stray and decided to stay. He is now the love of our lives, the light of my mother’s eyes and the extortionist who gets a claim on a portion of food from all our plates. It’s this love that toughened up our resolve to try everything in our power to give Laddu a fight, until he was willing. 


I’m happy to report that apart from the half an hour of discomfort every other day, Laddu’s quality of life is at its optimum. He’s the first to bound into the kitchen in the mornings for his breakfast, the last one to leave because he knows we sneak him treats when the other cats are gone. He has his favorite spots, like the well-worn round settee which no one else is allowed to sit on. He has his mommy-time; when my mother takes a break from her chores and he’ll follow her voice to where she is on the couch (remember he’s blind). He’s the undisputed King of our castle. 


But Laddu isn’t our only cat-baby. There are four more; four more egos to manage, four more strong personalities to cater to, four more lives we are responsible for. 


Laddu’s cat-siblings are four absolutely adorable beings who cannot speak for themselves, and who trust us blindly to make the right decision for them. And that is the most difficult part in this dynamic; knowing that every decision you make has to be the right decision because they can’t make their own. Which vet to go to? Which food brand to use? Should I get that vaccine which causes fever? Should I get her the shot even though she seems normal? Is she unwell or just being lazy? There’s so much that requires just taking wild guesses from knowing them and their distinctive personalities.  The relationship between us and our cats is complex. There’s no one giving out nods of approval and unlike with kids, there is no reference point to compare with by calling up other cat-parents for advice. You do seek out advice, but ultimately, we’re all just taking wild guesses on what our pet wants or is trying to say. Sometimes we get it wrong, but thankfully, most times we get it right. You’ve just got to remember that pets aren’t accessories to show off. They aren’t just show pieces. They are living, breathing little four legged babies who will never grow up enough to speak for themselves. They will also rarely turn around with an “I love you, Mom!” But once you’re in, you’ll find your own cues for understanding that you’re doing just fine. 


And with cats, that’s more that you can ask for; the pleasure is all ours!


(Khizra Munir is a Karachi based Creative Director and Strategy Consultant, whose ACTUAL full time job is to ensure that cats get their right place in society; as the bosses of us!  Follow her on Twitter at @KhizM)

2 comments:

  1. Aww Laddu, what a sweetie and what a fighter! I adopted a three year old cat last week. She was named Makhan, but I’ve now called her Fiona. I’m a cat novice, always had pets, but never a cat. So this past week has been spent getting to know her and she us. I’ve learned a few things about Fiona (it’s amazing how quick she began responding to her new name); she loves chicken, she loves to climb (just about anything) and she loves getting into cupboards. I’ve also learned where the phrase “Curiosity killed the cat” came from ;)

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  2. Such a great idea to dedicate the week to TC. And, of course, pet-related posts are more than welcome! Thanks for sharing these stories and perspectives with us.

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