September 26, 2019

Our cat, Ave Purrsephone Jingle Bells Christmas Miracle Watson, is great. And what I mean is that she’s great as long as she’s happy. And she’s happy as long as she is doing exactly what she wants to be doing. And what she wants to do is sleep, and eat, and occasionally sit in a lap, and scratch up our couches, and maybe try to kill our parakeets once in awhile. What she does NOT want to do is get stuffed into a cat carrier to go to the vet.

Unfortunately, getting stuffed into a cat carrier to go to the vet is exactly what the universe required of her not so long ago, and it fell somewhat short of being a relaxing experience.

Let me start by saying that our Percy is a wee bit high-strung. She was born to a stray mother, and I can only assume that her father was a bobcat or a weasel or perhaps a raccoon? Because while she has certainly become calmer and gentler and sweeter with age, she nonetheless gives the impression now and then of being the tiniest bit feral. Sometimes the devil gets her and she tears through the house leaping and flinging herself at walls. Sometimes she snaps at me when I try to pick her up. Sometimes overzealous toddlers chase her around the house until she finally decides she’s had enough and pounces on them, scratching any skin that might have the misfortune of being exposed. Sometimes when I go to check on one of our kids late at night, she comes gliding silently out of the darkness, claws and teeth bared, and attempts to wrap herself bat-like around my leg while I scream and laugh in terror. For instance.

It will therefore come as no surprise that she has Opinions about being unceremoniously thrust into a cat carrier. She has Feelings. And Thoughts. If she had the ability to utilize language, she would create petitions demanding that all cat carriers in the world be disposed of. If she was a queen she would command that they all be brought to her and burned in a huge bonfire, a la the spinning wheels in Sleeping Beauty. But she is neither literate nor royal, so she has been forced to employ other methods.

The day of the appointment, she knew something was up. Cats are creepy smart like that, and about an hour before her appointment she made herself scarce. Once she was discovered (in the box springs under the guest bed, where she has torn a hole for occasions such as this), we lured her out with treats. I picked her up and attempted to deposit her in the cat carrier, which was also filled with treats. It did not go well. She hid again, we found her again, I grabbed her again, and I tried to push her into the carrier again, jabbering cheerfully about all the treats she could eat if she would JUST GO IN but this attempt had equally scratchy (and unsuccessful) results.

Mayhem reigned from that point on. My eleven-year-old son Cooper and I ran around closing every door that could possibly conceal her, while Percy went tearing through the house in search of hiding spots, pausing now and then to glare and hiss at us. With the start-time of our appointment drawing ever nearer, Cooper and I kept up our desperately futile attempts to get a hold of her, and my six-year-old Foss simply stood in the middle of it all, watching and crying as we all ran frantic circles around him.

That was awfully fun, but it also wasn’t working, so Cooper and I finally switched tactics. We stopped, we took some deep breaths, and then we started pacing slowly in what we hoped was a calm, nonchalant manner, and we started talking in gentle, baby-ish voices. I guess we thought we could fool her, as if, perhaps, after all that hubbub and chaos, she would suddenly find nothing at all amiss with our increasingly-weird behavior. Oh look, she would think, they’re just taking a relaxing little walk around the house. Like they do. I’m so delighted by this sudden turn of events, I think I’ll just march myself into that cat carrier and eat those treats after all. #worthit (Cats totally hashtag their inner dialogue.)

But, instead of doing that, she acted crazier than ever, and just kept running and hiding and doing that weird, low-pitched moaning sound cats do when they sense a predator nearby. And Foss kept crying.

This new slow-chase was just as ineffective as the frantic one, and now the stress was beginning to make me sweat — even more so when I realized that we were most definitely going to be late to our appointment. I called the vet to inform them of this fact (our lateness, not my sweaty-ness), and then I asked them if a cat carrier is actually required for transporting her.

Did you know the answer to that question is no? For some reason, I did not know that. I worried that if I showed up at the vet with an un-cat-carriered cat, I would receive judgmental glares from the other (more responsible) pet-owners and alarmed stares from the staff, who would come running over to me, asking in angry whispers what in the world I was thinking. Turns out that nope, it’s totally fine. You — the proud and loving owner of a cat — have the veterinary stamp of approval to simply put the cat in the car and go.

I could have saved a great deal of time (and skin) had I known this information from the start.

But fortunately — miraculously, even — I finally got a hold of her, and then I rushed her out to the car, receiving many more scratches along the way, and I tossed her in. I closed the door as quickly as I could, shrieking loudly as I did (because it looked for a hot second as though she had tried to leap out of the car just as the door slammed shut), and then, breathing heavily, sweating profusely, covered in scratches, and terribly late, I hurled myself into the driver’s seat and started to back out of the garage. As I did, Percy leapt onto my lap and stared at me with wild eyes. I stared back at her, my eyes equally wild, and I waited for her to tear my face off. Instead, after several tense seconds, she suddenly curled up in my lap and started meowing pitifully, which she continued to do for the duration of our drive, which was mercifully quite short.

Once we reached the vet’s office, a transformation occurred, and a sudden calmness overtook the formerly-psychotic Percy. For reasons undiscoverable to mortal minds, my once insane, possibly homicidal cat morphed into a calm, cooperative angel-kitten. She let the vet stick a thermometer up her bum to take her temperature, she let him pry her mouth open to look at all her teeth, she let him give her shots (several of them), and she didn’t fight or even make a peep. The vet and his assistant both kept commenting on a what a well-behaved, easy-going cat she is.

At one point, as he considered whether or not to prescribe medication for something, he commented that oral medications can be quite difficult to give to cats. “But I don’t think this sweetheart would give you any trouble!” he said, petting her affectionately. This was too much. I silently held out my forearm, which was covered in angry scratches. He looked at my arm, looked at Percy, and then he laughed and laughed. “Not always so sweet then, eh?” he said, and he continued to chuckle, while Percy continued to sit quietly, as pure and innocent as the driven snow.

When the appointment ended, we drove home, we went inside the house, and Percy went as far away from me as humanly felinely possible (probably into the chewed-up underside of our guest bed), while I applied generous amounts of hydrogen peroxide to my arm and then changed out of my clothes, which were covered in layers of fur that Percy had stress-shed.

She gave me the cold shoulder for several days after that, and I can’t say that I blame her. I mean, if giants — even generally friendly ones — started following me around trying to throw me into a tiny cage, I’d fight tooth and nail as well, and I’d be proud of every last scratch I gave them.

She and I have made up since then. I’m generally her favorite human, and I’m also the one who feeds her (maybe that’s why I’m her favorite…), so I wasn’t too worried. When she finally hopped on to my lap one evening, I petted her head and told her I was very sorry about all that drama, and she simply yawned, because, as you remember, she doesn’t actually have any idea what I’m talking about most of the time. But if she was an articulate creature, she and I might have had a good laugh about it all, and we would have talked about our mutual dislike of cat carriers, and all the trouble and anxiety they cause, and we might have burned ours in a friendly act of solidarity.

Percy Has Opinions: The Vet

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