If Wishes Were Pussycats

October 26, 2009


This is my wee boy, and his cat. My wee boy has been very sick, and his cat has been helping take care of him. Which mostly amounts to curling up nearby and providing nap companionship, but also involves attacking the humans who make the boy wail by holding him down and putting breathing masks on his face, which is a torture that the cat does not understand but recognizes as inhumane. So she attacks. I have the claw marks on my head to prove it.

I’m trying to not worry about the little man and his lungs. He’s a robust boy, a solid boy, a boy made for running and shouting. That his lungs might be compromised is inconceivable – I was a sickly child with respiratory problems that kept me in puffers and masks and that put me in hospital too frequently, but I was a frail, skinny thing, whereas Jasper… Jasper is the very picture of boyish strength, all hale chub and muscle and barely-contained energy, a wee Wagnerian hero ready to slay dragons, or stuffed purple dinosaurs, whichever gets in his way. That he might have inherited some of my physical vulnerabilities just seems wrong, impossible. This is not a child who should wear a breathing mask. No child should, of course, but Jasper… he just shouldn’t. My heart constricts every time we hold him still to get the mask on his face, hear his sobs through the clear plastic, feel him struggle.

And so, it seems, does the cat’s. And so she flings herself at my head, willing me to stop, insisting, with her yowls, that the boy does not like this the boy does not want this STOP MESSING WITH THE BOY and she grips my scalp with her claws and all I can is shake her off, and sympathize, and wish that I had somewhere to sink my claws and tell my frustration and worry and defend the boy against the misguided ministrations of Big People, but I don’t and I can’t because I am the Big Person and this is what it means to be a Big Person, to have to suffer the tears and tell everyone and oneself that it’s for the best and it won’t hurt a bit and Mommy’s sorry and we really have to do this this will make you better and honestly…?

… it’s days like this I wish I was a cat.

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    ame i. October 26, 2009 at 11:05 am

    Cats are odd. My 2 year old male manx spends each & every night with my 11 yr. old daughter. Female tortie the same age watches over the husband and I. Our 6 year old fluffy, orange tabby male is often on my 9 yr old daughter’s bed before I tuck her in. If I don’t feel well or have a bit of depression going on, he’ll come check on me after 9 yr. old is asleep, but he returns to her.
    When DD11 was a baby, she as howling her head off. Another cat of ours (passed away from old age)walked into the room & assumed it was my husband’s fault. She attacked his leg, he shook her off, she jumped him again. He ended up having to take off his pants to dislodge her. Baby stopped crying & Cleo the cat gave him a look like “Yeah, I showed you, mister.”

    gretchen from lifenut October 26, 2009 at 11:10 am

    My heart goes out to Jasper and to you.

    I’m like you. I’ve had asthma (making a huge assumption) since early childhood and spent a lot of time in hospitals, sleeping while sitting up, having my back pounded, missing gym class (that was the only upside). The meds weren’t good when I was a kid. Now they are. I still have asthma, but only notice if I miss a day or two of my steroid.

    I’ve watched my sons struggle to take breaths and I’ve taken them to emergency rooms. I recognize the certain posture asthmatics take—hunched or walking with fingers pressed up on the tops of thighs. I hate that I see them do the same thing. At least they get back to life faster now. It’s a safer time to be an asthma-riddled kiddo, but it can’t take away the fear completely.

    When they are small, they don’t understand. If you were a cat, you’d probably attack too. Take care, all of you.
    .-= gretchen from lifenut´s last blog ..It’s getting better all the time =-.

    laura robinson October 26, 2009 at 11:27 am

    I have tears in my eyes
    I hope your son is better today.
    Thank you for writing this, I know how you feel. It is hard to the mom, the BIG PERSON
    life is messy and mom decisions and actions are hard.
    I was dealing with something emotional and school related but very hard last night with my son – my BIG boy 16 years young) and our cat was snuggling with him as we talked, and I said “man, it would be easy sometime to just be a cat, wouldn’t it?”
    so I am with you, there.
    keep breathing.peace.

    Brooke October 26, 2009 at 11:32 am

    I totally understand this. My son was diagnosed with asthma at a year and a half. Now, at four, he brings me his nebulizer with a wheezy “I need a treatment, mommy” in the middle of difficult nights.

    I have a lot of trouble with all of the medicines, all of the treatments that go with allergies and asthma. Knowing that my son is on so much medication nearly every day is hard. But it’s so much harder seeing him gasp for air and look at me like I should be able to fix it..
    .-= Brooke´s last blog ..If I never hear the Thomas & Friends theme again, it will be too soon. =-.

    Her Bad Mother October 27, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    It’s that look that breaks the heart, isn’t it, that look that pleads ‘FIX IT MOMMY’.


    liz October 26, 2009 at 11:35 am

    Poor little muffin. I hope he gets better fastfastfast.
    .-= liz´s last blog ..Putting People First =-.

    Becca October 26, 2009 at 11:46 am

    So heartbreaking. We had to nebulize our youngest when he had RSV as a tiny baby. So hard to do. I hope he is back to himself in record time!

    Issa October 26, 2009 at 11:53 am

    Oh I hope this is just a tiny blip for Jasper. I’ve got one asthmatic kiddo. She eventually got used to the mask and all the rest of it. But it took a while. At some point, they start to recognize that it helps.
    .-= Issa´s last blog ..Random Monday, the Grinch who ignored Halloween version =-.

    Jill October 26, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    Poor fellow. We’re sick here too. I am giving up my own rest by putting LK in my bed and setting the alarm to get up every four hours to check his temp, give him tylenol, and listen for wheezing. It’s what we do.

    I’m just grateful I don’t have a cat to fight with.

    MIchelle October 26, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    I have Dario, Jasper’s cat’s clone, sitting in the sun on my desk as I write this comment. We both emphathize. Get well soon, Jasper.

    jaelithe October 26, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    Oh I hope he feels better soon! I just want to hug him through the screen. It’s so terrible to have to give your children medicine they don’t want to take, especially when you know you wouldn’t want to take it, either, because it tastes bad or it smells bad or it hurts.

    My family had a cat that used to do the very same jumping yowling head-scratching thing whenever any of us would do anything to make my baby brother cry. She was MY cat and preferred me to everyone, but if I ever seemed to be hurting my brother (who is 12 years my junior), she would not hesitate to use her Claws of Correction to chastise me.

    I am sure once Jasper is his hale and hearty self again, he will pleased to discover the many ways to use his newly employed cat bodyguard to his advantage.
    .-= jaelithe´s last blog ..An Open Letter to Every Teacher of a Child with a Sensory Disorder =-.

    Her Bad Mother October 27, 2009 at 12:53 pm


    Alexicographer October 26, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    So sorry Jasper’s sick. Hope he (and you, in relation) recover quickly and in a long-lasting way.

    Christy October 26, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    It’s hard to be the big person sometimes. I hope he’s feeling better soon.

    Mandy October 26, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    Siamese cats are strangely possessive that way.

    I hope Jasper is better soon. My eldest had very “reactive” airways when he was 0 – 36 months. He’s finally outgrown it, but I understand. There’s nothing more panicky than hearing your child struggle to breathe.

    Her Bad Mother October 27, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    Siamese cats are batshit, is what they are ;)

    Arkie Mama October 26, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    Oh, I hope the poor little man feels better soon. I had to give my eldest breathing treatments during a nasty case of RSV several years. It was horrid, and I can totally seeing an intuitive kitty wanting to put a stop to such a procedure.

    Momo Fali October 26, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    I am wishing your boy well and wishing I could do more than that.

    thepsychobabble October 26, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    Re: Pets- Truck woke this morning wheezing horribly. His nail beds and lips were still beautifully colored, so we decided to wait the half hour to put his sister on the bus, since she already missed most of last week. The dog crawled up on the couch (where she’s not supposed to be) and snuggled him.

    Re: the rest of it.
    This is the first time that Truck has really been bad enough to take in, erego, today was his first treatment. And I’m on the floor of the ER exam room, trying to restrain all those limbs and hold the mask over the twoyear olds face, with tears streaming because I feel like the MEANEST MOM EVER, even though I know it’s for the best….
    It sucks. It really sucks. And I’m not looking forward to next time.
    .-= thepsychobabble´s last blog ..Who is at Risk? =-.

    Sashalyn October 26, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    Oh boy. I am so sorry for the sick and the masks and the angry kitties.

    I empathize greatly, as my daughter Sophia (who is Jasper’s age!) gets a shot each and every night. Some nights it’s easy breezy, with distractions and silliness- but other nights it is a huge fight with tears and wails and flinging limbs. The worst times end with bruises and bent needles- and it just breaks my heart.

    But I know, like you do, that this is what we must do, as big people- we have to keep the little people as happy and healthy and safe as possible. I am sending you the strength to keep moving forward- because before you know it, Jasper will be running and jumping and hollering with his sister and then you will need strength to battle the batshit crazies.

    This motherhood thing isn’t for the faint of heart, is it?
    .-= Sashalyn´s last blog ..watching her grow =-.

    pharmgirl October 26, 2009 at 9:11 pm

    My son (8) also needs the nebulizer periodically. When he was much younger – two or three- he also hated the mask. Our pediatrician let us hold it up to his face without actually putting it on. He was able to sleep through treaments and still got the benefits.
    Now he plays soccer, baseball and football, knows his peak number, when he needs the neb, and when the inhaler will do. Hang in there, Luv.

    Ree October 26, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    Delurking to sending get well prayers to Jasper. And to tell you how very much I love your writing.

    Sharon October 26, 2009 at 9:43 pm

    This is probably going to make you say, ‘duh’, but have you tried distraction? My daughter has gotten croup very, very regularly since she was little. When we’ve had to go the nebulizer route, the tv (turned up WAY loud, of course, so she can hear over the nebulizer) really helped distract her.

    Sorry if this falls into the category of ‘assvice’ ;-) . HANG IN THERE. I know this really sucks.

    Her Bad Mother October 27, 2009 at 10:51 am

    Distraction is excellent advice, thank you!

    (I don’t consider any advice assvice, really. I’ll take all the help I can get ;) )

    tracey October 26, 2009 at 11:37 pm

    Ohhh… poor little guy. Poor Mommy! Hope he gets better soon.
    .-= tracey´s last blog ..Stages of childhood… =-.

    Colleen October 27, 2009 at 1:29 am

    Poor, poor Jasper. We have cats that come running and yowling every time one of the kids cries, etc. Luckily they haven’t attacked us yet….my three year old likes to hold the nebulizer in his mouth, hates the mask. It’s messy but works. Good luck through this.

    Amanda October 27, 2009 at 6:11 am

    I have to say, it’s not any easier to administer those breathing treatments when your little one sees you get it out, forces a cough, and says “See? Dinosaur mask. I coughing.” That he knows what it’s for, that it makes him feel better, that he even needs it, kills me every time. I hope your son feels better soon.
    .-= Amanda´s last blog ..Let’s Try Parenting =-.

    mimi October 27, 2009 at 10:16 am

    Nana Doob! Long time no see …

    I’m choosing to read the heartwarming part, which is that Jasper has such a staunch ally in the cat. That’s a pretty great thing for him, and he’s going to really get a kick out of that as he gets older.

    Hang in there, C.
    .-= mimi´s last blog ..Last night, an Arrowroot cookie saved my life =-.

    Her Bad Mother October 27, 2009 at 10:50 am

    I love that you remembered Nana Doob. LOVE. Considered linking back to her old security posts, but then couldn’t be bothered. But yeah. Love the Nana Doob.

    kblogger October 27, 2009 at 10:20 am

    What a precious photo! I hope he feels better so soon!

    Totally out of left field, because I don’t know the history, but speaking from my own personal experience – is there any possibility that his breathing problems could be associated with the cat? Cat dander is the only thing which makes me have terrible trouble breathing – my lungs, throat, I get itchy, sneezy, wheezy… and only seems worse, not better, with time around cats. Nothing else triggers this response.

    You may already have considered it, but when I saw him sleeping with the cat, and read the story, it popped into my mind.

    Peace to you…
    .-= kblogger´s last blog ..Staying Healthy through the Winter =-.

    Her Bad Mother October 27, 2009 at 10:49 am

    The cat doesn’t usually sleep with him, and is actually kept out of his room (much to her distress) – I had cat allergies as a child, so I worry about this. In this picture, he was actually napping on my bed with me, the cat (George) protecting him in case I got any crazy ideas about, you know, ventilating him or some such.

    kblogger October 27, 2009 at 11:26 am

    Catherine, I worry about it myself because I don’t want my children to have cat allergies, and often wonder if the solution would be raising them WITH pets… the slow-acclimation type of thing. But I’d be miserable. But then they might not have to give cats wide berth for the rest of their lives. Sigh.
    Just wear protective gear next time you attempt to help your son & the cat is on watch. ;)
    .-= kblogger´s last blog ..Staying Healthy through the Winter =-.

    Julie @ The Mom Slant October 27, 2009 at 10:25 am

    Wishing Jasper well – and you the strength to help him get there.
    .-= Julie @ The Mom Slant´s last blog ..The Military Slant: Speaking for themselves =-.

    red pen mama October 27, 2009 at 11:00 am

    First, I hope Jasper recovers soon. My goodness, I never would have guessed from the images here that his lungs could be a trouble spot. My heart and prayers go out to you & the boy.

    Second, this sounds oddly like the struggle I had to ice Kate’s forehead the other night when she hit it and raised a horrific (to a mother) goose egg on it. Poor Kate does not have a cat to defend her from The Big Person (that is, me).

    hugs, and chocolate, and wine,
    .-= red pen mama´s last blog ..Snippet: Sweet =-.

    LAVENDULA October 27, 2009 at 11:41 am

    oh poor little guy hope he feels better soon.you have to love cats they have so much personality…hope your head doesn’t hurt to much

    Kathryn October 27, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    Sorry your little guy hates the mask so much. We have to do the nebulizer for croup, and one of the masks we got looks like one of the Backyardigans. Of course he loves that mask and gives us no trouble when he has to wear it for a treatment.

    You might try something like that, and letting him play with it when he’s not getting a treatment. Hope he’s feeling better soon.

    Shannon October 27, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    maybe earphones and a read along storybook while the treatments happen? so the noise is down, and he has distraction? Just an idea.
    I have zero experience int he area so just throwing it out there?
    As for the cat, that is sweet. My daughters cat still- at 5 years old, gets in her hair and kneads his paws. He also sleeps on the boys bed. He and the boy have grown up together :) both are 5.
    I love that they are so protective!

    robin October 27, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    I love that family pets step in when they are needed. There is something so tender about your cat sleeping with him, spending time with him, and comforting him.

    I am praying that he feels better soon.

    mamalang October 27, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    TV helped when my son had to start and would fight it, but not always. It also helped when we pretended he was a firefighter, or going on a deep sea dive…lol. But it does suck those times he just didn’t want to do one. Like Brooke said, I hate that both him and my daughter are on so many meds, but it’s better than not breathing. And their doctor is good about giving them a “break” in the summer, when they don’t need them.

    I’m glad he’s feeling better. I try to remember that even 10 years ago, he would have probably been in the hospital in an oxygen tent instead of getting treatments at home.
    .-= mamalang´s last blog ..Arlington =-.

    Pamela October 27, 2009 at 9:01 pm

    Just want to send positive thoughts your way, and speak in praise of the comfort of cats. Hopefully he doesn’t have a sensitivity to cat dander.

    We’ve got asthma in the family – my husband – and so far the boys haven’t shown any signs, though the 4yo has gotten croup a couple of times. Hearing a loved one struggle for breath is one of the worst things imaginable. I’m sure Jasper will get over it soon. Much love to you and yours.
    .-= Pamela´s last blog ..Albatrosses and Plastics =-.

    Heather October 27, 2009 at 9:33 pm

    I have an award for you on my blog~http://wwwtheadventuresofcrazymumcom.blogspot.com/2009/10/3rd-time-is-charm.html
    .-= Heather´s last blog ..3rd time is a charm… =-.

    Maya October 27, 2009 at 10:14 pm

    Aw, my heart breaks reading this! How hard it is watching your child be sick :-( I hope Jasper is feeling better soon!
    .-= Maya´s last blog ..Small Blessings =-.

    Shawna October 28, 2009 at 6:11 am

    We, like commenter Colleen, have had success with the mouthpiece instead of the mask, but ours had not been classified as “asthma” (yet), so don’t know if the mouthpiece is an option for you. (The mask seems more effective to me, but our pede said if the mouthpiece works, go for it.) Good luck and hang in there (to both of you :) )
    .-= Shawna´s last blog ..Oh the irony! =-.

    Lisa October 28, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    This post strikes home. My just 2 yr old son has had his own nebulizer since he was 11 months. After 5 cases of bronchitis, he is really good at it (and equally good and saying no No NO when he is done). Our cats do not defend him, thankfully, or I would have long since screamed in frustration. Our ped has always had us use the mouthpiece and Jake will even put it in his mouth. Having a Thomas episode on and telling him that as long as he is good Thomas will be on during treatment seems to work. We have not had to turn it off yet…
    I do hope that Jasper does not get to be as good at this as Jake is!

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