Saturday, February 19, 2011

Retirement Activities - Pet Memoirs

Today I was skimming old issues of Time, simultaneously clearing out stuff and looking for ideas for blog topics. I came across an article from last month titled: “Our Puppies, Ourselves. What the cresting wave of dog memoirs says about us humans.” I’ll tell you what it says. It says that I’m missing my true calling writing about the transition to retirement. I should be writing about my cats.

Apparently there’s been a recent surge in memoirs about life with the family dog. (The current New York Times paperback Best-Seller List has “Inside of a Dog” in the number two slot, described as “the world from a dog’s point of view.”) The author of the Time article postulated that these books “tell us less about dogs than they do about ourselves.” Also that “dogs can teach us to slow down,” which probably refers to the fact that each year millions of dogs are put on Prozac.

The article makes no mention of cat memoirs, yet cats outnumber dogs by more than 16 million in American households, according to the most recent American Pet Products Manufacturers Association National Pet Owners Survey. True, more households have dogs, but not by much (39% vs. 33%.) I smell a huge opportunity here. (Or perhaps it’s just the litter box—it gets changed every Sunday morning.)

My family always had a dog, but I had little choice but to become a cat person. My three-hour a day average commute from a Jersey suburb to New York City made a pet dog a non-starter for me. Cats, on the other hand, worked out just fine, so cats it’s been for over thirty-five years. I’m sure I have enough material for a series of memoirs, at least one for each cat I’ve ever owned. Correction. For each cat that’s owned me.

Apparently these pooch memoir writers are expecting their dogs to be more than just their best friends. I don’t place such high expectations on my cats. I just want them to be the children I never had. Like any good mother, I make sure they get regular checkups and all the tests and injections that are recommended at the various stages of their lives. If there is the slightest hiccup in their behavior, I pack them into their special carriers and trundle them off to the vet, credit card at the ready.

When my husband and I were married, he warned me that he was allergic to cats. I explained that if I were forced to choose between my “children” and him, he’d be sleeping alone in that king size bed. His allergies eventually disappeared (a miracle!) and he is now almost as attached to our cats as I am. Lily is positively devoted to him, which would make me jealous, except that Luke is similarly attentive to me.

You’ve probably heard the old saw that people start looking like their dogs after awhile. I can go that one better. My cats had checkups a few weeks ago. They each had lost a little weight and their hemoglobin level is low, both signs of anemia. Since they’re about fourteen now, the vet recommended a prescription diet for senior cats and follow up in two months (kaching!)

My husband also had a recent checkup. By bizarre coincidence, his hemoglobin level is also low, suggesting anemia (and more tests.) So here’s the question: does he have sympathetic anemia, or do the cats? Either way, it’s touching, really.

There will be plenty of material for blog posts on how the cats are doing as I transition into retirement. Will they adapt well to my being home all the time? How will they handle our planned downsizing to Vermont? Will they sink into depression when they no longer have four floors of house to wander through? (Will I?) Will they share their prescription cat food with my husband? (He only half jokingly suggested he might try it. I recommended leafy green vegetables.) Will Jagdish start to look like Lily? Will I look like Luke? The list goes on and on.

Yes, dear readers, cat memoirs are a definite possibility. I just hope none of you are allergic.

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