Beyond Blonde

Cat Scratch Fever

I am awarding my sister Paula the most peculiar pet award this year. There is no question in my mind that she and her cat deserve it. During our most recent transatlantic telephone conversation I inquired how her kitty was doing. "Oh she's doing great." she told me. "Now I know he was a boy the last time we talked, but he couldn't urinate properly and kept getting kidney stones, so they did a sex change operation on him, I mean her."

It took a couple of seconds for this to sink in. My sister has lived in Australia for the past 30 years and sounds Aussie to the core so at first I thought I misunderstood her. But then she told me how much it cost them for 'the operation' and I realized she had said what I had thought she said. And wasn't joking.

When the fact that those ingenious Aussie veterinarians had cured my sister's cat from kidney stones and urinary tract problems by changing it's sex really hit me I could only say in a choked voice, "Let me get this straight. Your cat had a sex change operation because it couldn't urinate properly."  As the full implications of what had happened to her kitty became clear to me I could only sit awe struck at the possibilities. It gave that favorite Aussie saying of "She'll be right, mate." a whole new meaning. Having spent thirteen years in the land down under myself, I thought nothing that an Aussie did would surprise me. This, I will have to admit, bowled me right over though.

She went on to tell me how before the operation they had nick-named their beloved cat Stevie because when they were peeling prawns for supper he would stand on his hind legs with his front paws on the cabinet, and sway back and forth with his eyes closed. "Looking", she said, "for all the world like a feline Stevie Wonder". Paula says now she is going to have to start calling him, her, Stephanie.

My sister, master of the understatement that she is, went on to tell me that owning a transvestite cat was not easy. I could only agree most heartily with her.

Of course to be politically correct he/she is not really a transvestite cat, unless of course he/she enjoys dressing up in women's clothing. But since the cat is now, medically speaking, a her, it wouldn't matter if she did like to dress up in women's clothing. Right? As this particular implication flashed across my brain I started to point it out to Paula but decided not to because I was afraid that she might tell me that before the cat became a she, he did enjoy dressing up in her clothing. "Curiosity", they say, "killed the cat." So considering what those Australian veterinarians had done to my sister's cat I decided to let that particular slumbering dog lie.

This is the kind of conversation that tends to stay in your thoughts though. I find myself wondering if that cat is now going to have to have counseling to help it through this difficult time. And what about it's sexual orientation? That is going to be one confused cat let me tell you. If she thought the vet bill was bad wait till she starts getting the bills from all those cat psychologists.

Am I going to turn on my T.V. one day and see my sister's cat on 'Geraldo'? And will he/she be the only cat like this? Or will there be others? Perhaps by then they will have banded together with their psychologists, and having decided that it was some form of mental abuse that caused them to have difficulty urinating, are now suing their owners. Is the world, or at least the down under part of it, about to be overrun with cats that have had to have sex change operations because their owners, in trying to house train, them did irreparable mental damage?