Yenta Says “Wau!”
by Beth Kozan
Our cat Yenta is almost 20 years old. She had been dropped off (we’re sure) at the Girls Program that was behind Catholic Social Services, where I worked. Though she was only a teenage cat, she was in heat and attracting tomcats to serenade her at night and spray urine in competition for her. The program director of the Girls Program said the cat had to go! It was known that our house was petless. Our Miss Kitty had disappeared and we’d waited months for her to return; and our dog Boomer had died from old age. The word went out: “Beth needs a cat!” I dropped off the cat carrier at the Girl’s Program with the understanding that if they could catch her and put her in the carrier, at the end of the day I would take her home with me.
The little wild cat was waiting for me. Elliot named her Yenta because she was so nosy when she explored her new abode. I had her spayed the next week, and she’s been a good house cat for years. The last four of those years we’ve had a health watch on her due to a diagnosis of hyperactive thyroid. In humans, the diagnosis would call for treatment using a pill. For cats there was surgery ($4,000, which I could not afford) and special diet food which she wouldn’t eat. There was also a food additive to protect her liver; it came in chicken and in bacon flavors. She wouldn’t eat that, either. So for the past years she’s been wasting away, getting thinner and thinner. Her ribs and her spine are prevalent and her coat doesn’t look so good.
It’s been two years since she hit a bad spell when she quit eating, and she would not even drink water. I was sure she was dying. She grew weaker. The night before her veterinary appointment, I enticed her to drink water by pouring a small amount into the cap of a water bottle. She drank a little. Then she drank some more.
At the vet’s office the next day, she surprised us by chowing down on some special food the vet offered her. She was on the road to recovery!
She has remained a fan of drinking from that same water bottle cap. It is our ritual. She’ll look at me with those widened dark pupils (think Puss-in-Boots from the Shrek movies) and MOWR, then drink four or five capfuls at a time. In the summer she often spent the night sleeping on the cool tiles of the shower.
She’s grown more expressive in her old age. When she wants something from me (usually it’s food), she pats me on the arm if I’m typing. The other day I asked her if she wanted Wau-Wau. (Yeah, I speak baby talk to her.) She said, clear as day, “Wau.” But only that one time.
Beth Kozan is the author of the book Adoption: More Than by Chance and the forthcoming Helping the Birth Mother You Know. Beth worked in adoption for 35 years and retired to write. She has many more books than these titles to write and will emphasize and explore the concept of community in her additional books. “Growing up in a close agriculture-based, rural community in Texas, I felt the comfort and bonds of caring for others which is often missing in our busy lives today. Exploring and building communities for today is my writer’s goal.” Follow Beth on Facebook or visit her website, where she reviews books and films featuring adoption.