It’s great to be back in Hawai‘i. I enjoy seeing my family in Wisconsin and going to the lake, but nothing beats sitting on my own lanai enjoying nature with a screen between me and the mosquitoes. Unfortunately there’s a computer screen between me and nature as well. I’m rewriting my book. While in Wisconsin, I met with six women in my target audience who agreed to read my manuscript. Much as I didn’t want to hear it, they hated the book’s format. One thing I learned from my 20 years of doing consumer research is that the consumer is always right. So I’m redrafting it. Composing on the lanai makes that task much more palatable.
One of the good things about this arrangement is that I can actually hear the avocados drop from my backyard tree. They drop with a muted but audible thud, sometimes several if they bounce off the tree. This gives me the opportunity to take a leg stretch and lets my eyes rest looking out instead of the 24 inches to my computer screen. I usually get to the downed fruit before the ants do. If not, I just blow them out of the stem hole.
Last year I lost most of my avocado crop to something chewing on them. I think it was a rat. But this year between my own actions and that of Puss, I’ve managed to gather quite a bounty. I have freely given away avocados to most of my friends and the occasional stranger. Kindness begets kindness, so I’ve received lemons and bananas from Dianne, pomelos from Deacon, a peeled fresh coconut from Tina, starfruit from Jenny, and a promise of persimmons from Stacy and Haas avocados from Barbara when they come in. It’s a bountiful time of year in Hawai‘i. I was hoping Tina could teach me an easy way to get into my own coconuts, but alas, she just asks her son to hack away at them with a machete until he gets to the prize inside.
In case your eye went right over it, I did mention the cat. Yes, Puss has taken up command of the front lanai once again, and I’m giving him credit for keeping rats away from our yard. They probably smell him and his markings; at least that’s my story. When we returned from the mainland, he magnanimously forgave the three women in the family who took on the task of trying to give him away to a shop-keeper in town before we left. That didn’t work; he ran away and found his way back to our house. But I decided that if we were going to keep him, we had to have him neutered.
You see, Hawaii has a very serious free-roaming cat problem. With no predators and a year ‘round breeding season, a female cat can bear up to three litters of 3-6 kittens every year. We see feral cats everywhere. There’s a strong push for every cat owner to neuter their pets: “If you feed it, fix it.” We have to do the responsible thing, even if he doesn’t stick around afterwards.
“No, the cat.”
“Puss.” I could hear the woman at the vet’s office stifle a snicker. She asked a few questions that I could not answer about Puss – age, how often and how long he goes off at night, and whether he’d had vaccinations for cat leukemia or cat AIDS (I had no idea these diseases existed in cats). I told her he had scratched his ears raw; could they look at that too?
“Probably ear mites. He’ll get them again if he wanders in your neighborhood – that’s likely where he picked it up. But yes, we can treat it. Have Puss fast from 8 pm tonight, and no water tomorrow morning. You can drop him off any time between 8 and 10 am.” That sounds like my prep for lab work.
The next morning, we drove Puss to the vet, this time in a carrier that Dianne and Mitch loaned us. BG would have no part of the conspiracy to deball the cat: “The men of the family have to stick together,“ and all that. So it was up to us girls to once again handle the transportation. It took all three of us to get him into the carrier. Feisty little guy.
We learned more when we arrived. We could have Puss tested for leukemia and AIDS. If he had one of these diseases, he could die in two or three years. It seemed prudent to test. If negative, we could have him vaccinated. The ear mite infestation would require attacks from several angles. First the “nurse” (what do you call the gal at the vet’s office?) will clean the ears. Second, he would need an antibiotic. We could administer it ourselves every day for 10 days or they could give him a shot for more money. I called BG and he recommended we purchase the shot. Puss would also get a chemical treatment to kill future infestations of fleas and mites for one month. If the ear mites come back, we could purchase six months of this treatment for $80. If the mites don’t return, we can purchase something retail that would take care of fleas only. She reeled the information off matter-of-factly. It was almost more than I could absorb.
She also estimated Puss to be 2-3 years old, older than we had guessed. She kidded about “dirty male cats with only one thing on their minds – females.” Was it possible that our little kitty was not a virgin? We left Puss with the woman and went home, kind of depressed. At the end of the day we came back for him. When we arrived, we found a different person at the reception counter. “Name?”
“Mine or the cat’s?” The woman I met this morning came in at that moment.
“Oh, that’s Pus’s owner.”
“No, it’s not Pus, it’s Puss,” I corrected.
“Oh, right.” She went to get him. Luckily he was already in the carrier. The woman explained the procedures and the outcomes – Puss did not have AIDS or leukemia. But as I reviewed the bill, I decided to wait on the vaccinations.
Neutering male cat $75.00
FELV/FIV Test $42.50
Ear cleaning $20.00
Advantage Multi $16.00
Convenia injection $45.50
TOTAL with tax $207.29
Holy cow, that’s more than I usually pay for a doctor visit for me or the girls!
The woman recommended keeping Puss in the carrier for a few hours because he was still under the influence of the sedatives. Poor Puss. He didn’t even meow on the way home. But he did get babied when we arrived.
A friend, Chantelle, had written that my earlier essay about the cat trip to the shop owner “sounds like our annual trip to the vet! We get cat hair all over. They really shed when they get scared. Gives new meaning to ‘when the fur flies’!” She also said her Toms usually just wander off one day, often after a costly vet bill. Since Puss lives on the porch, he could indeed just wander off. But Step 2 of doing my part to solve the free-roaming cat problem is to keep him indoors at night. Cats also kill birds, and Hawai‘i has lost dozens of species already. That’s going to take some convincing: BG and the cat.
I did not manifest Puss, but I guess he’s ours now. Maybe he was sent for me to learn something, though I’m not sure what yet. But the sooner I learn it, the sooner he will wander off. I hope he stays at least until the avocados are all off the tree. Wait, that’s it! Puss is here to protect my avocado crop!
Wow, those are some expensive avocados.
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