Our cat Folds is going under the knife today. I feel ambivalent about this. The idea of cat surgery seems sort of ridiculous to me. How did we get to this point? Folds was living in the shed behind our previous house when we purchased it in 2002. She moved into our house in 2003. I evicted her in 2004 but she wormed her way back into the house later that year. We took her with us when we evacuated for Katrina; she disappeared for a month, hiding underneath my in-laws’ house. Her health has never been the same since. The vet says she has a hyperactive thyroid, so we started giving her methimazole in larger and larger doses. It seemed to help somewhat, but she’s hardly the picture of health and happiness. The vet eventually suggested surgery to remove one of her thyroid glands. I was surprised to calculate the cost of surgery to be equal to just about half a year’s worth of medication. From a strictly financial perspective, then, it would seem to make sense, assuming she lives another year. She must be at least ten years old. She looks about one hundred. (The photo above was taken before her health declined.) Of course there is always the possibility she might not survive the procedure. That would be a great relief to me, actually. I don’t particularly like Folds. She gets in the way around the house, constantly sneaking underfoot, and she tracks litter everywhere, especially into our bed. She’s got a nasty disposition and doesn’t seem to particularly enjoy being alive. Yet she seems so pathetic we can’t bring our selves to turn her out.
Indeed, our situation with all three of our cats raises ethical questions I have difficulty in resolving. What exactly is our obligation to Folds, and our two other cats? I don’t feel that we adopted any of them, exactly. It seems more like they adopted us. They were all volunteers. Archer, for example, was abandoned by her owners down the street back when we were living uptown. We started feeding her, and took her with us when we moved, and she’s been with us ever since. I don’t feel an obligation to care for every stray cat that comes down the street; that would be a full-time job. But at some point Folds and Archer and Crybaby crossed the line and became part of our household. At some point we felt obligated to care for them. It’s not a matter of personal attachment. I don’t care much for Archer, and I actively dislike Folds. Crybaby is OK, but to tell the truth I haven’t been able to love a cat since Lucy disappeared. Archer and Folds have not adapted well to life in our new house. Archer might be happier as an outdoor cat, but that raises other problems. Because these cats are old and have issues, I can’t imagine we’d find anyone who wants to adopt them. I couldn’t turn them out on the street. Euthanasia seems wrong. So in a sense I am waiting for them to die. It’s not really a good feeling.