Monday, October 09, 2006

The Glamorous Life

Sometimes I take epic journeys across continents. Sometimes I pretend to be famous. Sometimes I get published in well-respected periodicals. And sometimes I deal with vermin infestations. This is my life now.

Because Pipi is gainfully employed, it now usually falls to me to take care of the more humdrum chores around the house, the kinds of things that used to take up valuable weekend time; the kinds of things each of us used to spend more energy getting the other to do than it would have taken to just do it.

One of those things is taking the pets to the vet. So this morning, I took Teacake, our nervous but generally low-maintenance fluffy cat, to see Dr. Wright for a checkup. She said he seemed to be in good health, but that he did have fleas.

I was surprised both because the poor little guy never let on, and also because our cats never go outside. But apparently it’s not unheard of for indoor cats to get fleas in neighborhoods with lots of stray cats or raccoons. I wouldn’t say we have a lot of stray cats, but we do have one, as well as a friendly outdoor cat that I like to pet a lot. And I have seen raccoons around. (I don’t really pet them, though.)

The fleas also could have come from a groomer, and as much as I like him, the nice man we take Tommy to, with the enormous dog named Oso (“bear,” in Spanish) and a pointy-faced beast he swears is a wolf, is a prime suspect. (Alfonso also insists he has a pet bobcat--named Bob--but we’ve never seen it and suspect that something either got lost in translation or, possibly, made up entirely.)

In the end, it doesn’t really matter where the fleas came from. The important thing is that they have to go. And that’s what I did today, instead of starting my Shanghai article, re-pitching my Mongolia article to magazines, or plowing through the pile of travel journals I’ve been meaning to read and take notes on. I de-flead our apartment.

Getting rid of the fleas is very easy--you just have to apply a few drops of flea killer to the back of the cats’ necks. (Both cats, since it’s virtually impossible that Teacake has fleas and Tommy doesn’t.) The medicine gets into the cat’s bloodstream through the skin and somehow makes the cat toxic to fleas without hurting the cat. Petty quickly, all the fleas in the house die.

The harder part is vacuuming your carpets to make sure you’ve got all the unhatched eggs. The really hard part is doing the same to all the places the cats sleep. If you’re a cat owner, you know how hard it is to inventory all their sleeping places. It’s like making a list of all the places Earnest Hemmingway liked to drink. It’s easier to keep track of the spots that don’t qualify.

The couch had to be vacuumed, along with the ottoman and the comfy chair. The cats snooze on our bed a lot, so all the sheets and comforters had to be washed, and even the bed skirt had to go in the laundry because they leave so much fur on it on the way to their under-the-bed bunker. I think I probably even ought to dry clean the curtains next to the kitty condo, because they hang so closely they have fur all over them. Where there’s fur, I have to assume there are probably fleas.

Ironically, their own kitty beds were probably fine, because their little fleecy pads seem to have fallen out of favor lately, but I threw them in the washer just to be safe. Once in a blue moon Tommy does sleep where he’s supposed to.

So that was my life today--a long boring stint in a veterinary waiting room followed by a frenzy of Hoovering and laundering.

It makes me wonder how I ever found time to hold down a job.

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