I was in Canada last month. I’d forgotten how disconcerting driving through rush hour can be, particularly with a cat clinging to my head. Other drivers didn’t stare — perhaps city folks are used to odd things like that, or perhaps they assumed that as it was a chilly day, the cat was a fur hat. Be that as it may, cat-as-a-hat in heavy traffic was distracting and I really had to concentrate to avoid a collision.
I didn’t start the journey to the vet with a cat on my head. Pussy bolted from the tender clutches of my sister who was in the back seat, and seeing the window was slightly open, made a dash for freedom (the cat, not my sister). It was obvious that the cat hated being in a car.
Although cats in a car apparently are not good for your blood pressure — and probably not so good for the cat’s either — it is a proven fact that, in general, having a pet reduces one’s blood pressure. Upon checking this fact with Mr. Google, however, I found a lot of information about how dogs help reduce blood pressure, but cats? Not so much. I’ve seen happy dogs hanging out of car windows, tongue out and wind in their faces. I’ve never seen a happy cat hanging out of a window. You want stress? Put a cat in your car. Stress can cause high blood pressure, and that can lead to atherosclerosis, stroke, kidney disease, heart failure … the list is long. There are many things that are bad for you. I looked. Bad news: the list appears longer than the things that are good for you. Good news: poor eating habits rank high, and this is actually something that parents have some control over that can improve the health of their kids.
My husband and I did our best to raise healthy little ones, and being the cook in the house, it was my job to make sure that what they put in their mouths was usually healthy. This may sound easy to some, but any parent of young children will agree that sugary snacks and salty crisps trump broccoli and chicken any time when it comes to their picky palates. Figuring out how to get some good protein into those little tummies can be difficult. A parent must be sneaky.
We live in the tropics, so something cool is a good place to put the protein. Never one to waste, and not wanting to use oh-so-bad-for-you dye, I have, for example, saved the water from the boiled beets, mixed it with tofu or yogurt (or both for that extra kick) added a little sweetener to disguise the concoction, froze it into plastic Popsicle containers, and presto! A fine healthy snack. The kids loved them; husband, by now suspicious of my concoctions, less so.
I recall one day when our son, who had an ear infection at the time asked what was for snacks. Unfortunately at the same time I had laryngitis. When I croaked “Popsicles” he asked, puzzled, “Hot pickles?” “Popsicles” I said as loudly as I could. “Hot pickles,” he repeated, with a slump of his shoulders. When our son trotted to the living room to announce to his puzzled daddy what was on the snack menu that day, his daddy yelled from the living room, “What the heck are you feeding them now?”
I remain unfazed. Your children will get ear infections, colds and fever, but if they have a healthy diet and environment, they will get through it all much quicker and have a better chance of survival if they are healthy. I haven’t lost any kids yet. I almost lost that cat, though, when I rolled down the window.
Faye Lippitt is the author of “16 Chickens on a Trampoline” and the children’s book, “The Great Caribbean Chicken Caper.”