Over the summer I was back on the east coast visiting family with my husband when I got the phone call I’ve always dreaded. It was our cat sitter: “There’s something wrong with Mini…”
It’s always been one of my biggest fears that something would go wrong with one of our cats while we were away. Thankfully, my husband was actually flying back to Los Angeles later that day. I was staying on the east coast for another week to see friends in New York.
Then came the phone call from my husband back in LA the next morning. “You need to come home, something’s not right.” I immediately decided to cut my trip short, changed my flight, and was on a plane that afternoon.
By the time I got home, my cat’s spirit was completely broken. He had been mistreated at the emergency vet hospital. They’d roughly performed an enema on him without sedation. He had bruises on all four of his limbs and his claws were broken and bloody from trying to break out of his cage during the invasive procedure.
The following week was nothing short of traumatic. Mini would not leave the bed. Not to eat, not to use the litter box. He wouldn’t move. During that time, I stayed with him for hours. I carried him to the litter box twice a day and took food to him. Eventually, he recovered.
But the experience shook me.
Since then, I’ve reevaluated travel. At almost 16, Mini is a senior cat dealing with health issues that often come with age. So, much like my parents have limited their travel since my grandparents have needed help in their advanced age, I have decided to do the same for my cat.
I will not leave Mini with a cat sitter which means my husband and I will not travel together in the foreseeable future. Every year during the holidays, we usually try to get out of town since it’s one of those rare moments when we both have time off. Not this year.
Now, I want to acknowledge my privilege here. Many people can’t afford to take vacations or visit far-away relatives at all. And I’m truly lucky to have a spouse I can trust to watch Mini if I need to go somewhere. Still, the looks I’ve gotten from some people when I share this decision is unmistakable: They think I’m nuts.
I am not nuts. I’m simply trying my best to be a responsible guardian to an animal who I promised to care for. When we take animals into our homes and our families, we have an obligation to be there for them no matter what. Animals give us all they have, and when they need help, we are all they have.
Though initially we were disappointed to cancel our trip, both my husband and I are so happy we stayed home this Christmas. I think Mini is happy too.