Alas, the cat got way too high
and was given the gift of understanding one(1) Concept
I’m sorry to report that my cat has gotten stoned. She’s been staring at herself in the mirror for several silent hours and shows no signs of stopping, and I worry for whatever we could call her sanity.
She’s been high as a kite since yesterday morning, when I took her in to the vet to deal with a bad tooth and tummy ache. The vet confirmed what I’d suspected - the pain in her tooth meant she wasn’t chewing her food, which meant she was swallowing hard cat food pellets whole and they were irritating her guts and she was starting to avoid food entirely. To deal with all of the above, and also to keep her still for some xrays and blood work and just-for-fun probes, they’d administered a long-lasting opiate to the back of her neck to be absorbed through her skin, at it’s been kicking her little ass.
Unfortunately for my cat, one side effect of the opiate (which I looked up later) is a reduced appetite, so even though she could maybe get some food down now she’s completely lost interest. Another one, apparently, is “forgetting how food works”. After we got home and I let her out of her transportation cage my partner and I coaxed her over to her food bowl and all she did was mash her face against it and everything near it, apparently trying to add her hormones and scent to the body of a warm friend.
She will also attempt to rub up against us when she sees us from across the room, turning her head and leaning in even though we are impossibly far away and accomplishing nothing but losing her balance. She doesn’t seem to want to lay down, either, just sitting silently in the center of the room, online but with a glassy look in her big eyes, sluggish but not at all relaxed.
As she stares at herself in the mirror I wonder if she’s temporarily achieved a more human level of consciousness. Perhaps she has been granted cognitive access to exactly one concept (impossible). Perhaps she has transcended and is currently revolutionizing mathematics from the ground up. Perhaps she is beholding the True Nature Of Reality and then is wisely choosing to keep her mouth shut.
These idle musings are mostly for my own comfort, but they point to two interesting things: I wish that I could use words to communicate detailed information about the future with my cat, but only regarding difficult circumstances. For most of life our communication is completely sufficient - we bond and enjoy each others cuddly company without ever having to do any kind of reflection and planning, not in the way humans do. It’s only when difficult-but-necessary things have to happen that I wish I could spell things out explicitly. I wish I could say things like “Don’t worry, we love you and we’ll be back in two hours and we miss you already” or “Please get in this cage, I know it’s miserable and also we need you in there to take you to the vet so you can stay healthy, I promise it’ll be okay”.
Unfortunately we can’t communicate quite like that, so we have to trick her into the hated transportation cage every time she gets sick and pile pain upon pain for the greater good. After a vet visit she’ll flinch away from our touch for several days, wisely afraid of another terrible betrayal, and I’ll feel sad that keeping her alive and thriving means sometimes letting our mammalian bond take a little bit of a hit.
There were times in my life, too, when I was younger, when the right thing to do meant enduring discomfort, and when I wasn’t ready to willingly do so. It’s an old evolutionary shorthand that equates ‘comfort’ with ‘survival’, and it’s taken a long time for me to learn the difference between “I feel kind of bad” and “I’m seriously about to die”. It’s taken a lot of repetition to learn on a gut level what I can survive, which so far is everything that’s happened to me. I wish I’d learned that earlier, and I’m not sure that there was any way I could have except by experience.
For now, though, I’m grateful that the cat isn’t becoming a drug fiend. The drugs are wearing off and she’s coming back online, meowing again when we make eye contact, biting the TV screen when I play a video game and something mouse-sized appears on screen. To my knowledge she isn’t entertaining any thoughts of robbing people at gunpoint to stay high forever, nor that she’s entertaining any thoughts at all.
She appears to have remembered how to lay down, and is finally ready to nap off the remnants of the bad trip that she’s had. We’ll take her to the vet in a few weeks to have her teeth deeply cleaned, and then we’ll have her back to normal for a while. I’m grateful to have a beast around whose baseline state seems to be ‘connection’, whose affection is uncomplicated and guaranteed to be without secret expectation or resentment, to remind me when I fret about my finite existence about what really matters.
What really matters is “Treats”.