Thankfully, that’s something I don’t have to do at the last appointment of my last day at my practice on the Upper East Side.
It’s simply needle time for Cecily.
I administer a distemper shot to a sleek black cat decked out in a bejeweled velvet collar, then scratch the kitty’s chin. “There you go, Cecily. What a good girl.”
The cat lifts her head, eagerly accepting the chin rub—give it up for the cat whisperer in the house—while her owner smiles demurely and taps her lip. “One more thing, Dr. Harris.”
She flips her red hair off her shoulder and poses her question. “If Cecily is having trouble sleeping, like, say, she’s waking up in the middle of the night and can’t fall back asleep, what should I do?” Perhaps realizing her blunder, Blair straightens, clears her throat, then smooths a hand down the cat’s back. “For her. What should I do for Cecily? The cat?”
Of course. Because so many cats suffer insomnia. It’s amazing there’s not more research into the problem.
“Well, funny you should ask, Blair,” I deadpan. “I see a lot of cats who have trouble sleeping through the night.”
“Really?” Blair’s green eyes widen, looking delighted by my answer. She must really want validation. Or really not want to see her internist for her sleeplessness woes.
She’ll be so disappointed to learn I can’t prescribe Ambien.
I nod, still straight-faced. “It’s true. It’s a very common problem with nocturnal animals.”
“I had no idea.” She misses my irony completely. “What do you recommend, doctor? Is there something she should take?”
First of all, I recommend asking a human doctor. As in, a doctor for humans.
I don’t say that though, because as much as I dislike twofers, they’re a part of life as a vet. And being a glass-half-full person, it’s not that hard to pass along a little tip.
Ugh, I’m such a softie sometimes. If I were a country vet, I’d be that guy with a llama, a goat, and an emu roaming my garden.
Come to think of it, raising an emu isn’t such a bad idea. Will I have room for one in Duck Falls, I wonder?
I shake my head, force my straying thoughts back to the present. There will be time later to daydream about patches of land and the possibility of flightless birds.
“For starters, you’d want to look at Cecily’s sleep habits,” I say, stroking Cecily’s chin—such an Upper East Side name for a cat. “Ask yourself: Is Cecily going to bed at a decent hour? Is Cecily drinking too much caffeine late in the evening? Is she turning off her phone?” I rattle off all the bad habits that might lead to poor sleep for, ahem, cats. “And more so, is she looking at her mobile in the middle of the night when she wakes up to use the litter box? That is the single biggest cause of sleep interruptions.”
“L-litter box visits?” Blair asks, her brow creasing.
“No. It’s the time the cat spends checking out email or Instagram on the phone while in the litter box.”
“I had no idea.” She sounds as if I’ve just dazzled her by pulling a rabbit out of a top hat.
“Yes,” I say, nodding as I pet the soft, silky Cecily, who purrs with each stroke. “Do you think that might be preventing her from nodding back off? The blue light of screens wakes up the feline brain.”
“The blue light of screens,” Blair says, like I’ve handed her the answer to all her problems. Twofer indeed. Though Google would have told her the same thing. Maybe I should charge extra for the advice sessions.
“There you go. Maybe you . . . I mean, Cecily,” I say dryly, finally meeting Blair’s eyes and giving her the I see what you did there look, “should stop peering at her phone in the middle of the night.”
A contrite grimace twists her face, and she dips her head, hand on her chest. “Sorry, it was me. I’m having trouble sleeping, and I do check my Insta at night.”
“Yes, I was able to put two and two together. But if the troubles persist, you should see your doctor. One who has an MD. Especially if you’re going to need to take something to aid your sleep. But hopefully some good, old-fashioned unplugging will do the trick. I’m sure all those pokes and finger tags will still be there in the morning.”
“Finger tags?” Her brow knits.
“Finger taps?” Social media is right up there with broccoli for me.
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