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Fifteen or so years ago, I adopted an adorable little ball of fluff. They assured me he was a cat, but I had my doubts.
The vet assured he was perfectly healthy. He was just…a Foozle.
My ex and I often joked that if we could clone Foozle, we would have cornered a niche market. He was the perfect pet, an adorable snuggly teddy bear.
In his later years, as a senior cat, Foozle developed a thyroid issue, hyperthyroidism, and required medicine, twice a day, for the rest of his life. Being a Foozle, he put up no real fuss about it.
Unlike his brother, who had a different opinion about taking antibiotics.
Foozle didn’t meow until he was many years old. For the duration of his life, his meows had been so rare that, when they did occur, everyone exchanged a look. Is that…Foozle?
So for Foozle to meow, he was pretty serious about not using his normal water dish. I tried filling it from the tub faucet instead of his usual filtered water. No go. I tried lifting the dish up higher so he could sit or stand to drink from it. Nope. I tried filling it part way and tipping it at an angle. No can do.
I set back up this water dish I had purchased for a previous cat, Boo.
This drinking from the tub faucet continued onwards, day and night. At first, I hoped this was temporary, that once his medication was doing its job, he would return to using his dish. His weight and fur improved, but nothing changed with the water situation.
I figured some dish, some configuration would do the trick. Still nothing. Weeks turned to months, and I started to contemplate I might have a real problem on my hands. The vet said since he checked out fine, it was likely an ‘old cat’ thing.
The only thing I knew for sure was, it was turning into a no-sleep thing for me. He would wake me up anywhere from 4-12 times a night for water. I couldn’t in good conscience leave the tap on trickle all the time, or even for a night. Seemed wasteful.
A few months turned into a few more months.
Every night, I would tuck into bed only to hear the call of a thirsty cat: scratch, scratch, scratch.
I would dutifully throw back the covers and shuffle down the hall to use my privilege of being the owner of thumbs to water my house cat. When he had guzzled down his fill, we would return to bed where he would snuggle down with me. Then, from slumberland, I would hear it: scratch, scratch, scratch. Nearly half asleep, I would zombie-walk down the hall and turn on the faucet.
By the fifth time in the night, I would begin thinking if I could rewrite The Raven, about the Foozle and the scratching, scratching at the bathroom door.
By the seventh, I would think: This is me now. This is all life is, just a Foozle and the tub faucet.
By the eighth, I would remind myself: This is old age. I will miss him when he’s gone. But right now, I really miss my bed.
During the day, bleary eyed, I would occasionally browse through pet water dishes, but without much hope. I had long been through the array of water dishes and had a pretty good idea of what was out there. And none of them would suffice a Foozle.
I have a kennel water bottle, which I can assure no animal in my house has ever felt compelled to use and I couldn’t see Foozle starting now.
My friend purchased one of those waterfall dishes with a flower in the center for her cats. She reported they loved it.
No, he really needed a faucet-shaped dish. Something he could drink from exactly like he drank from the tub.
Many months into being an on-call butler for Foozle, I did a quick, hopeless search for faucet-shaped cat dishes.
And I found one.
Cue clouds parting, choir singing.
Would Foozle agree?
I purchased the dish before falling asleep at my keyboard, and I didn’t realize until it was delivered that I had managed to order two of them. I set one aside unopened to return it, and unboxed the other. The dish was hard plastic and white, and not much to it which would make both assembling it and cleaning it easy.
That was, of course, if it got any use.
This was Foozle. He was going to need some time to remember he should use this dish instead.
I had a plan. I was going to set it up as close to the tub as I could, and then once he used the dish, I would move it out incrementally until it was where I wanted it.
First, I cleaned up the dish, assembled, and filled it to test it out in its destination spot before starting Operation: Foozle Water Dish So I Can Sleep Again. The name didn’t have much of a ring to it, but I was exhausted.
When I sat up the dish, the cats gathered around, as they tend to do when anything new comes into their domain. The moment the spout began trickling water, Foozle perked up, looked impressed, then began to drink from it. Afterwards, he rubbed his head on the surrounding walls near the dish.
He liked it!
My bed and I exchanged longing looks at each other. We were going to spend time together again, soon, it seemed.
I had a new plan, then. Since Foozle had taken to the dish right away, if he scratched on the bathroom door, I would gently move him back to this dish.
I expected a long haul ahead, but a worthwhile one.
It never came to that. That night, for the first time in most of the year, I didn’t have to get up to let Foozle drink from the tub faucet. The next morning, I put the accidentally purchased second dish away in a cabinet instead of returning it.
Just in case.
Foozle used his dish for the rest of the years to follow without any complaints. The dish itself functioned with very little issue. It made only a small amount of noise when seated properly (I personally don’t mind the sound of trickling water anyway), and it was easy to keep clean.
As for the other cats, Spooky was intrigued and, with his lip curled back in a comical manner, tentatively drank from the stream. He then shook his head and went for it again, slightly less like an alien that time.
Grue never really took to the dish. The first few days, he sat a safe distance away, feet curled under, watching it as if he expected it might come to life and eat his brothers. In the end, he didn’t seem interested in risking it and stuck to his standing water bowl.
Can’t win ’em all.
As far as Foozle and I were concerned, that Pioneer Pet water dish was life changing.