"Princess Putanesca" had been sniffling for days and seemed to be dangerously congested. "Felix," her house companion was the culprit, sneezing in her face with no regard for her well-being; and so to the open-on-Saturday vet in a neighboring county.
Princess Putanesca (whose right eye was damaged by a motorist)
Felix (one brown eye, one yellow) the virus spreader
This particular vet clinic segregates dog and cat owners in their respective rooms. We dutifully sat on a wooden bench in the lesser of the two, the cat waiting room (which accommodates all non-canine patients). There was a most uncomfortable gerbil on the bench next to us. Having filled out the necessary forms, we began to sense the disparity of the two rooms was emblematic of larger differences in the polar-opposite pet lovers.
A small group of cat people clustered in one corner, a baby stroller parked beside them. I glanced up from my paperwork at the group relating continuously the biographies of their significant feline others; describing the ecstasy of automatic litter boxes, the cherished inconveniences, so quaint and amusing; and the glory of ego consumption as payment for the privilege of loving an omnipotent cat. As my eye glimpsed the baby stroller, I saw two cats in the baby seat, which rolled past me when the attendant called the patients' names. Stunned, I scanned the lady-owners who gave off vibrations of eccentric overindulgence and implicit strangeness.
And there I sat, I thought, one of them. We change Her Majesty's name on the form to "Scooter," and appeal for a more desirable reputation as a rare and "completely sane" cat owner. My grandfather always touted silence as the cloak of personal shortcoming. Better to look smart than prove the converse with words, was his belief. I toed that line and exited the clinic without seeing anyone roll their eyes once. And her Royal Regal Highness, The Princess Putanesca, has been exemplary in tolerating her illness and taking her medications. I have several wounds.