I think I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and self-contained.…They do not sweat and whine about their condition, they do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins, they do not make me sick discussing their duty to God, not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania of owning things, not one kneels to another nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago, not one is respectable or unhappy over the whole earth.
-- Walt Whitman
If cats could talk, they wouldn’t.
-- Nan Porter
“How to Feed Phoenix a Pill”
I have two friends, Dwayne and David, who are delightful people: intelligent, very original, and with a very special sense of humor. They live in an apartment in the North Hollywood part of Los Angeles, and they love animals. Their upper floor apartment has one of those big greenhouse windows that extends out from a regular window, catches sun, and is appropriate for planting pots. The greenhouse window is home to a couple of beautiful fowl, two small hens named Cacciatore and Parmigiana, who proudly nest there and make their presence known without shame. They have a dog as well, whose name is Oria.
They also have a cat named Phoenix. At one time, for my information, they sent me written directions of how to feed Phoenix a pill. The exact instructions are transcribed below, and they are incomparable:
1) Pick up cat and cradle it in the crook of your left arm as if holding a baby. Position right forefinger and thumb on either side of cat’s mouth and gently apply pressure to cheeks, while holding pill in right hand. As cat opens mouth, pop in pill. Allow cat to close mouth and swallow.
2) Retrieve pill from floor and cat from behind sofa. Cradle cat in left arm and repeat process.
3) Retrieve cat from bedroom and throw soggy pill away.
4) Take new pill from foil wrap, cradle cat in left arm, holding rear paws tightly with left hand. Force jaws open and push pill to back of mouth with right forefinger. Hold mouth shut for a count of ten.
5) Retrieve pill from goldfish bowl and cat from top of wardrobe. Call spouse from garden.
6) Kneel on floor with cat firmly wedged between knees, hold front and rear paws. Ignore low growls emitted by cat. Get spouse to hold head firmly with one hand while forcing wooden ruler into mouth. Drop pill down ruler and rub cat’s throat vigorously.
7) Retrieve cat from curtain rail; get another pill from foil wrap. Make note to buy new ruler and repair curtains. Carefully sweep shattered figurines and vases from hearth and set to one side for gluing later.
8) Retrieve cat from neighbor’s shed. Get another pill. Place cat in cupboard and close door unto neck, to leave head showing. Force mouth open with dessert spoon, flick pill down throat with elastic band.
9) Fetch screwdriver from garage and put cupboard door back on hinges. Drink a beer and fetch a bottle of Scotch. Pour shot; drink. Apply cold compress to your cheek and check date of last tetanus shot.
10) Take last pill from foil wrap. Tie the little bastard’s front paws to rear paws with garden twine and bind tightly to leg of table. Find heavy-duty pruning gloves in shed. Push pill into mouth, followed by large piece of steak filet; be rough about it. Hold head vertically and pour two pints of water down throat to wash pill down.
11) Have spouse drive you to emergency room. Sit quietly while doctor stitches forearm and removes pill remnants from right eye.
“How to Feed Oria (the dog) a Pill”
1) Wrap it in a piece of bacon.
-- Ken Symington, Hypomnemata