Today my husband and I spent two hours trying to place our cat, Sparky, in a pet carrier crate.
I’m still struggling with the aftermath, one of the Walking Wounded if you will. I’m drained and exhausted beyond belief – both physically and emotionally. My battle scars will heal, but I’m not sure I can forget the mental trauma.
Our cat is not friendly. He isn’t cuddly, or cute, or regal, or any other of the adjectives Devoted Cat People use to describe the feline species. Even referring to him as “a pet” pushes the bounds of honesty. It’s more like we decided to invite a wild jungle cat into our home. At times he condescends to occupy the same room as us. Typically he avoids us completely, other than his not infrequent attempts to bring us to our knees by running directly into our feet. For our part, we feed him, keep his litter pan clean, and even buy him the odd toy when the mood takes us. He isn’t lovable, but I’ve decided to love him anyway.
That isn’t to say I don’t have the odd fantasy about him running away from time to time. I’m no saint, after all.
The main thing to remember about Sparky is to NEVER TOUCH HIM. He doesn’t like physical attention of any kind. On rare occasion you can give him a brief scratch behind the ears – BRIEF!!! – but, if you would prefer to avoid the experience of having your flesh shredded to ribbons by claws of slicing death (and who doesn’t?) then it’s best to simply keep your hands off.
Unfortunately, Sparky is a long haired cat – one who staunchly refuses to groom himself, to boot. This could be a result of his being separated from his mother from a very early age. We found him on our porch years ago, a tiny starving kitten, barely clinging to life, a frail creature far too small to be on his own. We rescued him, literally pulling him back from the brink of death, and he shows his gratitude by not gnawing our carotid arteries open while we sleep. Since he won’t take care of himself (and won’t tolerate us brushing him) he suffers from matted and tangled hair. The only solution is to have his fur completely sheared off when he visits the vet for his yearly shots and exam.
The hairstyle he receives is called a Lion Cut, and it’s comical to behold. All of his fur is sheared down to the skin except for a ruffle of hair around his head, four puffs of fur on his feet and a small puff at the end of his tail. (One time they shaved his whole tail bald, and he looked like a 12 pound rat.) Of course, he needs to be rendered unconscious to complete this procedure.
Today was haircut day. I woke early, as I needed to drop Sparky off at the vet between 7:30 and 8:00 am. After getting myself ready, I turned to the task at hand. Here’s how the morning went:
6:50 AM: I pick Sparky up in a firm, but loving, manner and try to scoot him through the open door of his crate. He instantly throws his front legs wide, and manages to hook one of his claws into the door grate. I attempt to gently unhook the claw, which stimulates a general panic in Sparky. He sinks his back claws through the cotton of my t-shirt, ripping several holes. The claws of one forepaw sink into my shoulder, while the claws I just freed from the grating are inserted into my right forearm. One of them is wedged in my skin like a barbed fishing hook. I scream like a stuck pig, alerting my slumbering husband that something may be “slightly amiss.” The cat leaps from me, and then runs to hide, hissing and spitting. I bolt to the bathroom to wash out my wounds.
7:00 AM: Brian (my husband) bravely picks up the cat and attempts to place him in the carrier. Sparky bites Brian on the thumbnail, driving his teeth through the nail bed into the flesh beneath. Interesting words are spoken.
7:10 AM: After tending to his wound, Brian decides to put on protective gear. He dons his heavy winter coat and pair of mittens, picks up the cat, and tries to place it in the carrier. The cat demonstrates the origin of the phrases “getting pissy” as well as that other familiar chestnut “taking a s&#! fit.”
7:15 AM: After cleaning and deodorizing the kitchen linoleum, I turn to review the state of my household. The cat is hissing and growling under the bed in my daughter’s room. A brief hiatus on the Kitty Cat Hunger Games is called so that the kids can get dressed and get off to school. The dog has been permanently banished to the outdoors where she continuously moans, whines, and barks. While I chase the kids out the door and take water to the dog, Brian turns his attention to developing new cat crating techniques. I am ready to give up and reschedule the appointment for a different day, but Brian hold the opinion that if we don’t persevere then our injuries count for nothing.
7:45 AM: With the kids safely out the door, we return to our attempts to corral Sparky. Attempts to lure him out from beneath the living room furniture with a ball of yarn fail. We try to tempt him by breaking out the ever popular red dot, but he seems to have entered a catatonic state.
7:50 AM: We decide to forget the cat carrier and decide to trap him in a Rubbermaid container with holes drilled into the lid instead. He won’t let us near him, so we try to drop it on him from above, hoping to slide the lid underneath after he is trapped…needless to say, this approach fails.
7:55 AM: Brian drives to the hardware store, mumbling something about leather armor as he leaves.
8:15 AM: Brian returns with two pairs of thick leather gloves. I assist him into putting both pairs on and help zip him into a old, heavy leather jacket. Thus protected, he picks up our cat and attempts to place him in the carrier. Sparky instantly goes on the attack, and I holler, “DROP HIM IN THE RUBBERMAID CRATE!” Brian does so, and I throw the lid on. Then we secure it with copious amounts of duct tape.
8:50 AM: We arrive at the vet and tell our tale of woe to the receptionist who thanks us for a “good laugh.” I try to kill her with my mind powers. My husband, a gentler soul, warns her of the volatile nature of the animal we are leaving in their care.
Oddly, once we taped the lid onto Sparky’s crate, we didn’t hear a single sound from him, from the time we left the house until we dropped him off at the vet’s office. Not one hiss, growl or spit. No scratching. No movement at all. I wondered if the morning’s exertions were too much for him; perhaps he had a heart attack and died. For a brief moment I was tempted to crack the lid open to check on him – I mean how humiliating would it be to deliver a dead cat to the veterinarian and ask for a lion cut?
After evaluating the risk in a move like that, I decided to leave the lid in its place.
About an hour ago, the phone rang. It was the technician from the vet office who proceeded to report that Sparky was a real sweetheart, and that they were able to give him his shots, take his temperature rectally, and conduct his exam ALL WITHOUT SEDATING HIM. Then they put him under and gave him his haircut. He is now coming out of his haze, and we should be able to pick him up in about an hour or two.
There can only be one explanation for this. They have the wrong cat. I am one hundred per cent convinced that when I arrive I will find someone else’s cat in my pet carrier.
The way I feel right now…I’m perfectly okay with that.