Saturday, May 26, 2018

Belated Birthday to the Op Op

Oh. My. God. Can you believe the Opulent Opossum is nine years old already? My first two posts were on March 3, 2009, and here it is May of 2018. And look how far we’ve come! Obviously, since my blogging is diminished so much, there must not be much more to say. About anything!

I’ve covered it all!

. . . Not! I’m starting the tenth year of blogging, and the only problem now is, how do I find time to write about all the ideas in my head?

I’ve been busy doing things instead of writing and reflecting—and I suppose that’s a very good thing. Naturally, all the usual stuff continues. The house, the yard, the kitties. The elephant ears and the storm windows. You deserve an update!

Well, yes, there was the springtime landscape work.

AND we adopted a new kitty at the end of March! He’s from the Wild Thing people. He was trapped along with a clan of other cats in on a road in the south part of town called Hiview. They neutered him and ear-tipped him, thinking he’d be released with the rest of the feral/semi-ferals . . . but as he recovered, they realized he wasn’t like the others. He was nice. He liked people. He wanted attention. Somewhere in the process, the veterinarian who did his neutering surgery also fixed his cleft palate. (Didja know kitties can have cleft palates? Sure enough!)

The surgery didn’t quite “take.” It kept getting infected; stitches came out. Well, they tried—but he basically went back to the default condition. Here's a picture taken of him after his surgery. Try to imagine if this had healed:

The foster family called him “Macaroni,” I guess because he’s orange. We, of course, call him all sorts of variations of the name: Mac. Mr. Mac. Mackie. Mr. Mackie (“mmmm-kay?”) Mackadoodle. Mackie Doodle Dandy. Mack the Knife. Macaroon. . . . You get the idea!

One reason I was interested in adopting him was that Lois needed a friend with her on the first floor (elderly and deaf Patches lives on the second floor with us, and she really doesn’t deserve an immature little “friend” to surprise her as she walks blearily around the house). Another reason we wanted to adopt him was indeed his peculiarity: His cleft palate, combined with his grown-up status, meant that he wouldn’t be as readily “adoptable” as other kitties, especially during kitten season. And more—I remembered Miss Rhue, who used to rent the first floor from Grandma. She had had a cleft palate, and I liked the idea of her somewhere, somehow, maybe smiling down on a sweet kitty with the same congenital weirdness.

So . . . in addition to the extra care and attention called for in the process of adopting a new kitty into the household, I’ve been busy with some other doings, too. This year I’m the secretary of the Old Munichburg Association and have volunteered to be the “vendors coordinator” of this year’s Oktoberfest celebration (September 29 is coming up really fast!)

Also, I’ve been involved with a brilliant new arts organization here in Central Missouri, the Southside Philharmonic Orchestra. I was even persuaded to be the president of the board! I’m pretty sure that means that the SPO is a priority for me, so I’ve been trying to behave appropriately.

Meanwhile, Sue’s mom had some pretty gnarly surgery in early March, so we were in northern Ohio for a week.

The surgery was a success, but the recovery was lengthy (and continues). In fact, Sue returned to Ohio in mid-April in order to help her sister, who was simultaneously dealing with medical issues with her father-in-law (who recently passed away). Sue’s still in Ohio!

I’ve been batchin’ it. Goin’ through all the church nonsense, dealing with a health problem with Patches (yes, she has that old-cat kidney disease, it’s official), moving all the big potted plants outside, putting the elephant ears into the ground, helping put on an SPO concert, and a lot more stuff I won’t bore you with but which ate up entire weekends.

Amid all this, I took Mackie to the veterinarian that had seen him previously—who attempted to repair his cleft palate, etc. Even though she was not our usual veterinarian, I thought it was only fair for her to see him again for booster shots and whatever. And she surprised me by saying that Mackie is FIV+. What? What-the-what?? What does this mean?

Looking back, I realize I had only inquired whether or not he was feline leukemia positive, and didn’t ask about feline immunodeficiency status. Fortunately, FIV isn’t as communicable as feline leukemia, but still . . . Lois had been living with him almost a long as he’d been with us. They got along within only a few days of his arrival.

And the Wild Thing liaison had been under the impression that he wasn’t “strongly” FIV+; and if it was only a “weak” positive, it probably meant he’d only been exposed to the virus and didn’t carry it. But I did have him tested with my own vet, and sure enough—it’s a “strong” positive. He has the virus; they say his life will almost certainly be shortened to 3–5 years and end with an infection some sort, or, more likely, with cancer.

Anyway, at first, it seemed like it was no big deal. It seemed really unlikely he could transmit the virus to Lois. FIV is a lot like HIV—the virus is relatively fragile outside the body, and it pretty much needs to be injected into a recipient. Since Mackie was neutered and Lois spayed, he wasn’t going to try to inseminate Lois. We changed the water regularly, so it was very, very unlikely he’d pass it on through sharing a food or water bowl. He’d have to seriously bite her in order to give her the virus.

But within a week of learning this fact about Mack, I started noticing that he is . . . nippy. I think he just does it because he’s worked up, and he’s craving attention. But he does occasionally “strike” at my ankles as I walk around, as he weaves among my feet. And I knew that he and Lois played rather hard together—chasing, playing “gatekeeper,” and so on. Had he bitten her? Could he?

As far as I know, he hasn’t bitten her hard enough to break the skin. She’s fast! And she’s amply covered with fluff. But as he has gotten more comfortable with me, he has gotten more comfortable biting at my ankles and calves. Hard enough for me to actually say, “Ouch!”

So, as of May 21, Lois has moved up to the second floor. Sixty days after her last possible exposure to the virus, I can get her tested to see if she’s acquired it. So now Mackie’s alone on the first floor, and Patches lives in one of the second-floor bedrooms (I’m currently trying to get her and Lois to make some kind of peace). Three litter boxes to clean!

Lois’s move to the second floor meant that I had to take measures to Lois-proof our general living area. Hide/secure all the electrical cords; relocate anything she’s likely to destroy (feathers, vases); clean up and throw away the antique vase she did break . . . repair the speaker wire she did manage to sever, even though the wire was hidden under the stereo cabinet, I thought . . .

And this, my dear friends, has been my spring. Have I not been posting regularly? Well, this is why: A constant mayhem, one thing after another. And there you go.

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