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Sunday, March 27, 2005

The Hat Crisis

An 18 year old cat lives at our house. His name is Frederick, and he and I have a very long history together. He became a fixture in my life before I was old enough to drive a motor vehicle and has remained a fixture through countless moves, including cross-country ones. Ironically, after putting a whole lot of miles on the furry feline, we have ultimately settled down within a half hour's drive of his original adoption site (the local Humane Society). Suffice it to say that Frederick has staked his claim in my heart over the years and therefore has numerous rights and fringe benefits in my home, not to mention that I put up with some of his quirks that have come with his age. I figure he deserves at least that much grace as he also tolerates little Zoe amazingly well. She loves the "nice kitty" and never misses an opportunity to poke at his nose or examine his paws or tickle her face with his tail. He gets lots of kisses and pats from wee little hands and never acts cross towards her. Zoe endearingly calls him "Freggit" (which does sound quite a bit like a NOT politically correct reference to two members of the male sex enjoying each other for more than just friendship).

One of the quirks I tolerate from the old man (by which I am refering to Frederick, not my husband--at least in this case) is his tendency to occaisionally, sometimes frequently, barf in interesting places around the house. I figure he's been around a long time and in cat years he is actually about 86 years old. When I am 86 years old I will probably have a few more quirks than an occaisional barf. While I tolerate this, it is a major pain to deal with cleaning up a cat barf pile with a curious toddler at your heals.

Saturdays are errand days for us. Somewhere between breakfast and gathering up the piles of gear necessary in order to go anywhere with a young toddler, I discovered a small barf spot on the carpet. I quickly cleaned it up and returned to the duties of piling up more toddler gear--including the singing chicken or dancing duck or whatever it is that Great Uncle Ron and Great Aunt Pat sent Zoe for Easter. As I was rummaging upstairs for gear, Brian was hauling the piles out to the family-mobile. Then I heard his voice calling up the stairs, "I found the rest of the cat barf, and this could be a problem." Nothing surprises me anymore when it comes to toddler issues or geriatric cats, so while I was curious, I remained un-fazed. Then the voice calling up the stairs commented something about the barf involving Zoe's hat. Hmmmm...this could be a crisis. A year ago Great Uncle Ron and Great Aunt Pat gave Zoe a big floppy striped sun bonnet with a pink flower on it. From the day that hat came into her life, Zoe has had to wear it everywhere. Rain or shine, church, shopping, park, none of it matters except that when we hit the door, that hat better be on her head. Yes, this could be a problem.

I descended the stairs, already problem solving in my head as to how we could convince the wee one that she did not need to wear the big floppy sun bonnet today. Then I stooped over the hat, which had found its resting spot on the floor just inside the door the night before, and I surveyed the damage. The wee one was at my heels and squatted down beside me in like fashion to see what I was studying. There, on the striped sun bonnet, was an interesting specimen of cat barf. Now, forgive the brief graphic nature of this description, but I must include it in order to make my point. This particular cat barf was a hairball. For those who do not have cats in their homes and have never seen a gagged up hairball, it looks rather like...well...a dry, hairy cat turd.

As I hunched over the mess in silence, pondering the best way to handle the whole thing, the wee one exclaimed, "Poop! Hat! Poop!" Uh-oh. Here we go. I remained silent, except to stifle a giggle I couldn't resist. Next the wee one exclaims, "Oh Shoot!" This time I laughed out loud, but didn't bother to correct her about the poop factor. I figured it mattered little to her whether it was poop or barf, though I was relieved it was indeed barf and thus lacking the sharp odor that would accompany it otherwise. As I scooped it up, I calmly said, "Mommy will wash it and it will all be okay." The wee one toddled along behind me all the way to the laundry room exclaiming "Poopy hat! Poopy hat!" I wondered how many strangers we would meet on our excursions that day who would hear about the "poopy hat." Fortunately we were able to convince the wee one to don a different bonnet, and we didn't hear anything else about the "poopy hat."

I will wrap up this tale by assuring you that the hat was later tossed in the washing machine and now looks good as new. "Freggit" has long since resumed his usual lounging posture on the couch, clueless and un-concerned with such matters as to what are the consequences of his barfing. Business around our home is back to usual, which means you never know what interesting thing may happen next. Living with a toddler and a geriatric cat assures us of that.

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