Friday, August 14, 2009

My Little Feline Familiar

Since writing this blog, I have been counting the days until I have amassed enough hip-replacement-related content that I can throw in a little bragging-about-my-cat content. And now, since it's Mika's 5th birthday (yes, I know her birthday. Don't judge), that day is finally here.

Mika is a tortoiseshell cat and was born on an organic lavender farm in Metchosin, which perhaps accounts for her general craziness and wild-child hippie spirit (and the fact that she's a catnip fiend). Her real name is Mykonos (she's named after the greek island, which is in itself a long story), but she has 8.5 million nicknames: Pika-toes, Pika, Meeks, Miss 'Nos, Sweet Peek, Peeking Toes, Little 'Nos. She also responds to "pretty girl" because she is so incredibly spoiled. Though I originally tried to keep Mika as an indoor cat, she launched a six-month guerrilla warfare campaign to get outdoors, taking advantage of the fact that if she slunk down low on my left side when I opened the door, I would not have enough hip flexion to pick her up. Mika: 1. Arley: 0. I gave in, she became an outdoor cat and proceeded to live a fast-paced lifestyle of hasseling squirrels, terrorizing insects and climbing up to high places to sneak attack my brother's 20-pound monster-cat named Mr. Chubbz.

When Mika was 18 months old, however, she was hit by a car. I called her in one day and she didn't come. I called her again, still nothing. Soon, I heard something that sounded like a baby bird. It was Mika, slowly dragging herself up the steps, mewling pathetically. She collapsed on my lap, her eyes all scruffy and squinted with pain, looking up at me. The vet diagnosed her with a hip dislocation, she underwent surgery, was put into a cast and quickly made herself famous in the vet's office for her cast-Houdini antics. Though the vet claimed he'd never in 20 years had a cat get out of one of his special casts, she managed to do so in a matter of weeks. Twice. For this reason, her hip wanders in and out of its socket and she walks with a varying degree of a limp. Has this stopped her from doing backflips off the couch to catch a toy mouse in her paws? No. Has it stopped her from running circles around my bed when she's freaked out during thunderstorms? No. Has it stopped her from catching cicaedas mid-flight, carrying them inside and playing with them for hours until they die of fright, then leaving them for A. as a special gift for taking such good care of her while I'm recovering up here in Canada and feeding her tuna and trout? Not one bit.

Both Mika and I therefore have the same disability in the same place (my left leg, her left hind leg), which prompted the editor of my first book to refer to her as my devil's familiar. A few years after Mika was injured, I began to experience hip subluxations (or whatever they were), which would cause me to flop around and shake and generally make a big fuss. It was hilarious to watch Mika sitting there watching me as I tugged at my leg and swore, her head cocked to one side, looking at me with a cat-like expression of bemusement/ annoyance as if to say, "What are you complaining about? I've been doing this sh*t for years. Roll around in catnip, shut the hell up and come over here to tell me how incredibly attractive I am."

While my hip subluxations were excruciating, and while they would often make me throw up and shake exorcist-style, none of them were particularly traumatic (embarrassing, maybe. Traumatic, not really). Watching Mika drag her little self up the stairs, however, was one of the worst moments of my life and I still hate to think about it. This makes me wonder about the impact that my hip episodes had on people around me: Jen and Zach, who had to hang me from doorframes and tug on my hip while they had other athletes to attend to; A., who became quite adept at pulling me off the couch and walking with his foot against mine until my hip went back in, even though I know it made him queasy to do so; E.C. who had to keep reminding me not to sit on the ground. And though I have moments where I regret the hip replacement, I'm glad that I'm no longer upsetting the people around me with my hip's diva theatrics.

So here (courtesy of A.) is a photo of Mika displaying on her own blogging talents. It's hard work.

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