Petsitting has become something of a side business for me. This happened slowly and rather naturally and I must say I enjoy the extra jingle in my pocket when I can get it. My most memorable job was petsitting for Lucy and Morgan– two privileged, older cats that lived in the nice end of downtown Birmingham, up on a hill in a stacked stone mansion. This petsitting venture stands apart from other jobs for a couple reasons– the first being that Luke, the timid Brittany Spaniel that absolutely adored me when I first met him, promptly tried to attack me once his family ran off to the beach. After strike two, I had him picked up by his owner’s father-in-law and sent off to the boarder for the week. I felt a little like a failure about my inability to bond with Luke, but I also didn’t want to bleed out in a vacant home with no one to rescue me from his viciousness, either. Lucy, the oldest cat, was fondly nicknamed Boo-Boo. Because she had a bit of boo-boo on her nose. In that she had no nose.
Seriously, she’s noseless. She also had no tail, but the the noselessness was the real attention getter, here.
Boo-Boo had an autoimmune disease that had somehow, sadly, eaten away her nose. She had to take AIDS medicine, but she could breathe fine and did not seem to miss her schnoz in the slightest. I have a bit of a soft spot for underdogs (undercat, in this instance) and so I immediately wanted to be Boo-Boo’s best friend and snuggle buddy. Only her owners advised me not to pet her. Because she bites. They said as much with furrowed eyebrows and a tentative point in her general direction.
In the week that I cared for Lucy and Morgan they became Moo-Moo and Boo-Boo to me. And every time I walked into their home, both cats were as sweet and darling as could be. Boo-Boo especially was loving and attentive and she didn’t try to bite me once. It’s true, sometimes I cringed when she rubbed her no-nose up against my dress and I could see the hem go inside her nose… but for the most part I tried to give her unconditional love.
I walked into work one day and told my coworkers all about Moo-Moo and Boo-Boo; but of course, I specifically focused my storytelling around Boo-bo0: how she’s noseless, how she followed me around the house, how her owners strangely seemed wary of my showing her affection.
“She has no nose?” one coworker asked me
“She has AIDS?” another exclaimed with horror.
“Maybe her owners are afraid she’ll bite you and you’ll, like, get AIDS,” another said earnestly.
This particular concern (surprisingly) hadn’t occurred to me before.
“Somehow I don’t think that’s going to happen,” I said (but the concerns were already whirling in my mind).
“Yes, homosapiens cannot contract AIDS from felines,” one coworker sagely offered.
“Are you sure you can’t get AIDS if she bites you and breaks the skin??”
“Well, have you Googled it?”
“No. It never occurred to me,” I said.
“I’d totally be looking that shiz up on the internet.”
If you were dying of curiosity on the subject, allow me to allay your fears here and now: Cats can contract and spread FIV while humans can contract and spread HIV. Both are horrible, but felines and homosabiens keep their respective AIDS to themselves.
So I continued to give Boo-Boo lots of love and opted not to worry about it. As long as she kept her no-nose away from the hem of my dress, it would be fine. And it was.