This has been my view for nearly two weeks:
I wake up, she’s watching me.
I go to sleep, she’s watching me.
I eat a popsicle, she’s watching me.
Even when her eyes are closed, if I breathe too loudly or my cough gets especially phlegmy, her ears swivel toward me and one eye might open as if to say, “Am I going to have to do something about this?”
You see, I’ve been sick. Quite sick. (Hovering over my keyboard, Brandy glances my way.) Okay, fine, I’ve had pneumonia.
I only hesitate to mention it because it tends to freak people out a bit. Not that it’s ever anything to take lightly, but I’ve had pneumonia so many times in my adult life (this is the fourth time) that I know the course and I know how my body deals with it. I’m well on my way to recovery. I’ve even ventured outdoors!
That last part about actually LEAVING THE APARTMENT might be the part that makes Brandy’s tail twitch. It’s not so much that she wants me out of the house, but I suspect she is ready to have me vacate her room, more specifically her bed.
Sure, she has her own heated cat bed, but with the temperature slowly rising in Yokohama, she prefers to lounge on my bed — her “daybed” — during daylight hours. She may be used to my company during the day since I work from home, but she’s not used to my company taking up her space.
While Nurse Brandy was at times adoring and soothing and sweet in the thick of my illness, and I have no doubt that my kitty has some serious affection for me, I also don’t doubt that she had some ulterior motives.
So in case you get sick in the future and are stuck in bed, on the couch, or just TAKING UP YOUR CAT’S SPACE, here is Nurse Brandy’s tip sheet on “How to Get Your Human to Cut the Crap and Get Out of Your Bed.”
1. Monitor your human’s vitals
Nurse Brandy says: “If your human won’t take care of herself, you have to take matters into your own paws. Or else she may NEVER get out of your fur!”
When I’d accidentally flip onto my back while dozing, causing me to choke or wheeze, Brandy would spring into action walking all over my chest and face, until I woke up and flipped onto my side.
Other times I’d wake out of a coughing fit to find Brandy yowling at my side.
When all else failed, she’d sit on my chest, her weight being so uncomfortable on my bursting lungs that I’d groggily prop myself up on some pillows just to make her leave me alone.
I was touched by her attentiveness and sensitivity to my weakened state. “CAT SAVES CHOKING OWNER!” — it’s the stuff of viral videos!
Then my husband pointed out that my coughing might just have been interrupting her nap time.
2. Make the human rest. Use force (or cute powers) if necessary
Nurse Brandy says: “The human must rest. Rest = no more sick stink = your daybed is yours again. Limit your human’s time with that wretched ‘com-poo-trrr.'”
I’ll admit, I’m the worst patient. I can’t stay away from work and my computer.
While Brandy always resents the glowing, metal “attention stealer” or “com-poo-trrr,” she got extra cranky when I was sick in bed clickety-clacking away at it when I was supposed to be resting.
To remedy my behavior, Nurse Brandy took to sidling right up to my computer and slowly oozing onto my keyboard. If this didn’t work, and I’d continue attempting to type under the weight of her face, she’d pull out all the cute she could muster — rolling around on her back, paws tapping my arm, purring and making little “mrrp mrrp” sounds.
And all work would cease. I’d settle in for a cuddle and victory would be hers. Her squinty-eyed, velvety-pawed, can’t-resist-when-she-makes-those-“mrrp mrrp”-noises victory.
3. Stay close, very close, all the time — your human needs you
Nurse Brandy says: “Your job is to soothe your human. A nervous human is an unhealthy human. And an annoying one.”
Brandy has been my constant companion.
More than just sharing my bed with me (sorry, her bed with her), she has literally been by my side at all times. When not snuggled up at my hip, legs akimbo, she’s curled up by my face, blinking at me.
On particularly unpleasant days, when the mere act of breathing was exhausting, she’d insist on snuggling up by my stomach or chest, her tail lightly curled around my arm. Sometimes she’d lick my arm or lightly nibble on my wrist or fingers.
I should note that Brandy rarely licks. It’s just not her thing. But since I’ve been sick I’ve been the recipient of more than a few licks and nibbles. When I was feeling really horrible, it brought tears to my eyes.
“Thank you sweet kitty,” I’d say. “I’m quite fond of you too.”
Being sick for so long can leave you feeling really low at times. At various stages of my sickness I felt frustrated, depressed, even angry. But I can honestly say that such negative thoughts and feelings were tempered by Brandy’s companionship.
I never felt lonely; I could never hold onto anger with her close by. I don’t know how people get over being sick without a cat.
So while I’m delighted to be making my way back to the land of the living, and Brandy I’m sure is elated to have her daybed back, a part of me is grateful that I had this time with her.
She was the best medicine I could ask for.
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About the author: Louise Hung is a morbidly inclined cat lady living in Yokohama, Japan, with her cat, her man, and probably a couple ghost cats. She also writes for xoJane. You can follow her on Twitter< or drop her a line at IamLouiseMicaela@gmail.com.