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Dear Oprah,

I see you are a dog lover!  Any love for the feline species, or are the best ones stuck to your tires?  I used to feel that way until I got my first cat at about 19 years old.  His name was Winston and he was a snooty gray Persian with very little personality.  He was beautiful though, and he loved me.  He lived about 16-17 years which Greg would say was 15 years too long.  There was no love lost between them being the only boys in my life competing for my attention.  Then we got Flanders—Ned Flanders—the very neighborly kitty we have had for the past 12 years.  He’s a love, and holds up the reputation of his namesake very well.  But this story isn’t about my favorite felines.  It’s about my least favorite feline.

My mother-in-law, god love her, and her boyfriend for several years—adopted two cats about the same time we got Flanders.  Brother and sister from the same litter, they were given the names George and Martha (Washington) which I am seeing in this moment as a little strange given they are siblings and not husband and wife.  George is a giant gray cat that is friendly enough, but must have a little German shepherd in him given his over-protection and loyalty to his owner.  He treats Yvonne like he’s her body guard getting between her and anyone else in the room.  He is social though.

Then there is Martha (she should have been named Mary Todd Lincoln with her manic paranoia, fits and unsocial ability.)  Martha is a fraction of the size of her brother George, has no personality that I have ever been privy to when I have seen the blur of her skitter through the room to a new hiding place.  She began having seizures shortly after they got her.  So add that fun little quirk to an unsocial feline, and your next 15 years of pet ownership stretch out in front of you with guilty resentment.

Any time that Yvonne stays the night away from home, one of us has to swing by her house to keep Martha on her daily regimen of phenol barbital or whatever the seizure controlling drug is these days.  We all know that giving cats medicine is not as easy as giving it to dogs.  But this little minx brings it to a new level.

There are specific directions to this chore:

  1. Have the pill out and ready.  DO NOT try to open a pill bottle while holding a squirmy, frightened feline even if she is declawed.
  2. There is a broom propped by the closet.  Close all the doors to the rooms where it has been determined that Martha is NOT, so that when you start to scare the crap out of her with the broom while trying to flush her from her hiding spot, she will have few hiding places.
  3. Pray that she isn’t under the leather sofa out in the porch because that is really hard to scare her out from under, and there is nothing other than the jaws of life that would get her free if she doesn’t come out of fear.
  4. After sufficiently beating and sweeping under sofas, and other furniture that is 4-6” off the floor, try to run her into the bathroom.  Close the door, and retrieve her from behind the toilet or in the bathtub.
  5. Pry open her jaws, and shove pill down her neck.  Try to keep from shoving the bottle down her throat after the acrobatics of catching her to give her the medicine.  Watch her blur out of the room as you loosen your grip.

Greg and I have both had the honor of this chore at different times, but he got to do it today.  Thank God!  Naturally he couldn’t find her (under the leather sofa, no doubt), so he began tipping the other sofa and loveseat on their fronts so that she couldn’t run and hide under them.  Turns out she was under the leather sofa on the porch, and somehow he managed to run her out of there and into the bedroom.  Once the door was closed and they were in the room with lots of furniture and nowhere to go, he tried to get her out from under the bed.  No luck.  Stupid cat.  He began stripping the bed, tipping the mattress up against the dresser, then the box spring.  Then the metal bed frame fell apart at one corner where the screws had fallen out.  Turns out there were no bolts on the screws to keep it together to begin with.  In the midst of all this, Martha ran out from under the bed into the bottom shelf of a tv stand in the corner that was filled with books and tapes.  Greg could see her devilish tail.  She was finally cornered!  He got her, and in the process of holding her head and prying her mouth open it took all of his self-control not to keep squeezing—not only to stop her seizures but also her existence.

The sabotage of Martha's hiding places

The sabotage of Martha’s hiding places

The Broken Bed being put back together

The Broken Bed being put back together

Then he had to go through his mom’s tool box to scavenge for hardware to put her bed frame back together.  He says he found enough nuts and bolts and spacers to make it work, but I wonder if maybe we would find chewing gum and twine if we looked at the repair.  We’ll see if we get a phone call when Mom gets to sleep back in her bed again.

Damn Martha Focker!

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