Tuesday, June 30, 2015


When I realized that Hammett’s usual cat sitter would not be able to apply his gel-based thyroid medication, it was just two weeks before I was scheduled to leave for a trip to Michigan. I went to Mission Pet Hospital and got a list of potential cat sitters, a few of whom are actual veterinary technicians there. I called a few of them. One person’s outgoing message consisted only of his or her last name, stated in a firm tone: “Smith!” I couldn’t tell from the name on the list or the voice on the phone what gender this person might be, but I left a message and Smith showed up, well ventilated with piercings and covered with tattoos, including a giant one across the front of her neck.

I fetched Hammett from his cozy bed in the closet and picked him up. He frantically pedaled all his arms and legs in the air: put me down, put me down! But when I did, he ran straight for Smith. He stopped about six feet from her, but then walked the rest of the way over to her and let her scratch his head, so Smith is our new cat sitter.

I went on my trip as scheduled and had a lovely time with Mom and Dad, and my sister, and friends Amy and Ginny. With both Ginny and Amy, I had a salmon burger at CafĂ© Zola. I also got together with my Uncle Rick, cousin Rick, and cousin Rick’s two boys, Ben and Luke, for dinner at Haab’s in Ypsilanti one rainy night. One day I told my father that my sister would be coming over shortly, and he said, “I’ve already heard about that, and don’t call me ‘Shortly.’”

When I got back to San Francisco, I found everything completely shipshape. Smith had even made notes for each day on how much Hammett had eaten, no doubt something she does in her work as a vet tech.

The gel has ended up working out great. He has barfed only twice since starting it, and his thyroid levels are nearly back to normal, with no sign of the kidney problems that can be masked by thyroid problems. (The kidneys can look perfectly fine, bloodwork-wise, until the thyroid is straightened out, and then it becomes clear that there is a problem.) The first time I applied the gel, it was a harrowing experience, but it got easier every time I did it, and he now sits serenely on my lap in the morning and evening to have one ear cleaned with a damp cotton ball and the gel applied to the other ear. After the gel, he gets a treat of two Pill Pockets, chicken in the morning and salmon in the evening. Once a week, I clean both ears with witch hazel.

I hope he’s gained back some of the weight he lost. He seems calmer and more robust, and that brief period in the morning when he was acting like a savage jungle beast has all but faded away. Over the past year, he would get extremely wound up when I was making the bed and bite and claw me. A time or two, he even sprang into the air as I walked through my apartment, trying to bring me down from an upright position! Evidently, it was all due to his thyroid levels being out of whack.
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