Some of the more loyal readers of this column may recall that last Christmas, a certain 6-year-old boy who lives in my house penned a letter to Santa asking only for a cat, promising, in blue crayon, to “feeb” it everyday.
You may also recall that the Big Man in Red granted this boy’s humble wish, and that Floyd the black-and-white kitten arrived at my door with a bow on his head.
Well, after 10 months of jolly boy-cat companionship, the harsh reality of feline anatomy has intervened, and at the urging of our veterinarian, my family has taken a path that is perilous both for our sanity and our finances.
Floyd the cat is having a sex change operation.
By the time you read this, he will lack male equipment. He will shed the furry fruits of manhood. He will trod the rest of his days minus the gifts the Good Lord granted.
He will be a girl. A girl named Floyd.
This step is a medical necessity considering our Floyd’s urinary tract is chronically blocked by crystals that his body creates. Without getting too graphic, the hose gets wider further upstream, and the only way to keep the water flowing is to snip off the spigot.
Thankfully, my wife, Amber, handled the details of this transaction, which almost certainly would have left me queasy.
Graphic nature of the surgery aside, the cost is also greater than the price of my first two cars combined, plus the paint job. Your columnist is a parsimonious columnist, genetically predisposed to cheapness, and hearing the number of zeros that followed the number 4 caused me to grip my heart and drop to the kitchen floor.
I’d always known that pet insurance exists. But I considered it the sort of absurd luxury you see in Sharper Image catalogs on airplanes, right up there with zero-gravity immersion massage chairs.
But people really have it. I have a family member who pays $30 a month in premiums for a policy that doesn’t cover basic vet visits or prescriptions – only 80 percent of catastrophes.
Our vet assured Amber that Floyd won’t suffer any psychological damage, which is good, but he made no such promises about our own mental well-being. As Amber and I reeled at the news, I composed this song, with apologies to Aretha Franklin:
Needless to say, this is unfamiliar territory for us. Will Floyd need a new hairstyle? Different toys? Should we give him a new name? Floyda? Floydina? Flo?
Our son took the news with uncommon strength for a second-grader. We didn’t sugarcoat it. He knows what parts of Floyd aren’t coming home.
But none of this matters. Floyd is restored to health. He’ll lead a long and happy life. We’ll still neeb him, and still feeb him, no matter how he goes to the privy. He is still Floyd, our cat, and gender surgery can’t change that.
And besides, after this week, he can marry any cat he wants.