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Ross Murray's Border Report
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Ross Murray
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is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at ross_murray@sympatico.ca
Posted 10.14.11
Stanstead, Quebec

ROSS MURRAY

The cat who cancelled Thanksgiving

Regular readers know that I harbour a certain prejudice against cats, and like most prejudices, it's defined by my own narrow experience. But this summer, our middle daughter Katie moved back home along with her own two cats, Lincoln and Chandler. That's when I discovered not all cats are jerks; only our cats are jerks.

Not all cats, for instance, perform track-and-field over sleeping torsos or confuse" snuggling" with "barging," just our cat Polly. And while I'm sure Nellie is not the only dangerously overweight cat who cannot properly clean herself, she may be the only cat that meows insistently outside the bathroom door each morning until one of the humans dampens a baby wipe and cleans her butt.

Lincoln and Chandler, on the other hand, possess the qualities I look for in a cat: avoiding contact and staring blankly.

Lincoln is the blank one, a bit of a dullard. His head is too small for his body, which makes me certain he's functioning entirely on a primitive brain stem. His favourite thing in the world is an eraser. When you pick him up, he goes limp, as though the thought of escape never occurred to him. As though thought never occurred to him.

But Katie loves him, so we take good care of him while she's studying in Ottawa. If something needs wiping, we'll wipe it.

That's why when Lincoln seemed not himself early last week -- not eating, not drinking, not a bit of eraser time -- I called the Coaticook vet Wednesday morning, and they told me they could see Lincoln at 9 a.m.

Within the space of two hours, Lincoln had an appointment with the vet, had travelled to the vet, had seen the vet, had blood work done, had received results of said blood work and had been checked in overnight for treatment. Meanwhile I was on a waiting list for seven years to get a routine checkup.

I took time off work for the visit, but that was okay, even if it was for a cat, because Katie loves her cats. Likewise, we cancelled our Thanksgiving plans at Deb's sisters, where all our children had planned to converge, because now we had to take care of Lincoln. Plus Katie loves her cats, and she wanted to see them, especially the sick one.

So all our kids came home instead. We found a last-minute turkey, at Walmart of all places, and it tasted like a regular turkey, and we bought sweet potatoes there too, and they tasted like what you'd expect Walmart sweet potatoes to taste like.

Katie arrived Friday evening with Em and her partner Altan, then James arrived Saturday evening, and Abby was here all along, though most of the time in her room, because she's 16 and possibly part cat, the avoiding and staring blankly kind.

And we ate and we drank and played geeky games. We hiked up Mount Orford thinking we'd glory in the leaves at their most brilliant, but halfway up the clouds and mist rolled in, and by the time we got to the top, we couldn't see fog-all, so we hiked back down and ate and drank some more.

We picked apples, feeling pretty clever eating the free "samples" off the trees and then paying for more than we'll ever eat, which is Western commerce in a nutshell.

Then everyone dispersed, taking the leftovers with them, and I went to the fridge and thought, WTF: Where's The Food?

And while all this climbing and geeking and picking and eating were taking place, we were all the while watching Lincoln, picking him up to see if he was purring happily, asking who had last seen him drinking, keeping the toilet water fresh because he's that kind of cat. At one point we wondered if he was looking dopey, which is no easy assessment when a cat is naturally dopey.

When it became clear he had not been eating the vet's special cat food at five dollars a tin, Deb and I had to forcibly get some in his mouth as instructed, only to discover later that Lincoln simply didn't like the vet's special cat food at five dollars a tin.

We were all thankful he was okay and were grateful to be together for a short time, even if none of this was what we had planned and all because of a cat.

And if you see me trying to coax Lincoln out from under a chair or rubbing his belly or making meowing noises or tossing an eraser his way, I assure you it is solely because Katie loves her cats.

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