These hiccups measured a 10 on the Bubba scale

May 28, 1997

If you have never had the occasion to watch a cat get the hiccups, you haven't lived.

I'd never witnessed such an event until this weekend when Bubba became afflicted. Either he swallowed wrong, breathed poorly or ate too fast (always a logical presumption when it comes to Bubba).

If my friend Frank (the Bubba Doc) or any other veterinarians are reading, they may want to consider patenting an inoculation that will give cats a case of the hiccups every so often, solely for the pleasure and entertainment of their owners. It's not cruel; cats owe us cat-owners something for all they put us through, and I think this is a good, sound, non-painful form of repayment.

Bubba had climbed up on the stereo speaker when he was stricken. He is a perfectly trained cat and never jumps up on anything he is not allowed to jump up on.


That's because there is nothing he is not permitted to jump up on. We came to this understanding early on. Training isn't in my cards and being trained isn't in his. He keeps his nose out of my food and I keep my nose out of his, and that's about all we ask of each other.

Anyway, he's arranged himself over the speaker in an attitude that could be comfortable only for a cat: Hind legs draped off the eastern exposure, forelegs draped off the western exposure and the head hanging off the northern exposure in a contortion that for a cat suggests blissful comfort, but for a human would suggest having been hit by a bus.

Then the first convulsion hit.

You know when a person gets the hiccups how the head may jerk a little? Or sometimes, if the case is really severe, you may see a slight twitch in the neck, or a heave in the chest, at the most?

Well when Bubba was rocked with the first hiccup all four legs locked straight out, his eyes bugged and he lifted a full inch off the speaker, so violent was the attack.

The beauty of this was, having apparently never had a case of hiccups in his life, Bubba had no idea what hit him. He sat up at full alert, like "What the heck was that?"

And after two minutes, he settled back down into his former pose, figuring, perhaps, he had dreamed the whole thing.

Another minute passed.

Then he got walloped again. Again his entire countenance became airborne and he landed back down on the woodwork with an ungracious whump.

Now, though, he was dealing with another tribulation, aside from the hiccup itself - that being me on the floor drowning in laughter, so total was his befuddlement.

He could stand the physical symptoms, but not this affront on his dignity.

And here I was, paralyzed in glee at the cost of his ego and self-respect.

Inwardly he began to seeth.

He glared out the window, he glared at me, he glared at a plant. His thoughts turned black and he began to calculate ways in which he could get even, and what tortures he would inflict on everyone and everything responsible for this and furthermore, he.... WHAM!

A particularly powerful hiccup somersaulted him skyward and temporarily shock-theropied all those evil thoughts from his brain. Upon landing he suddenly remembered an errand he needed to accomplish under the bed.

This was Monday. I've seen him once or twice since, always in fleeting moments when he'll come out to grab a snack or bite a passing toe. But at night I hear him pacing, his mind, I'm sure, bent on revenge. No cat has ever thought over a plot so thoroughly as this animal has been doing all week.

It's making me nervous. Everything indicates he is considering a profoundly stiff penalty. If you're guessing "cat" in the "kitchen" with the "lead pipe" you may have the winning hand.

My only hope is that if a cat can catch the hiccups, he may also be susceptible to amnesia.

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