Some call me brave, while others call me an idiot behind my back when I mention I usually take more than one cat at a time to the vet. Typically two, sometimes three. That way I don’t get charged for two separate office visits. Every dime helps when it comes to providing medical care for eleventy-billion cats like I do.
On Saturday I noticed Jesse’s nose looked puffy, just like this time last year when it ballooned overnight to the size of Karl Malden’s (or Adrien Brody’s if you’re under thirty and never saw The Streets of San Francisco, or remember the television commercials for American Express Travelers Checks in the 1970s and 1980s when he told us, “Don’t leave home without them.”)
By Monday Jesse’s nose had doubled in size with both cracking and bleeding. Clearly there is something nasty in our local air that is hurting my cat, so I have my calendar marked for next year to get him a Depomedrol injection before allergens wreak havoc on his poor snooter.
After I made Jesse an appointment, I checked my cat records to see who else I could take in for ‘something’ and realized Frank was overdue for his annual vaccinations.
Frank! Oh ffffudge.
It couldn’t be sweet, shy little Dori or cool as a kitty cucumber Peaches. No. It had to be Frank.
In my attic I have an assortment of cat carriers. Some are soft-sided, designed for calm kitties without saber claws that easily slice through the netting. Others have hard sides but are meant for newborn kittens or cats weighing under six pounds. I also have two designer carriers that Herman uses when we travel, however I don’t use them for him or anyone else when we go to the vet for reasons you probably already know, but I will elaborate in a few paragraphs.
I have just one carrier that works well for all of my cat types. It has hard sides, a side opening and a top-load opening with a firm handle, and it doesn’t weigh a ton when empty. I reserve this carrier for my problem children.
On Monday this carrier had Frank’s name on it.
Jesse is sweet and easygoing. The soft-sided carrier with the netting and zip top had his name on it. I picked him up, placed him in the carrier, and then into the back seat. Voila! Easy-peasy.
Then I picked up Frank and stuffed him into the top-loader. It was like stuffing myself into panty hose after eating Thanksgiving dinner. Frank weighs 16 pounds. He also has claws that make X-Men’s Wolverine appear playful.
We refer to Frank as having an ‘edge.’ I’ve been on the receiving side of his edge when last year I had to battle him back with a broom in an attempt to stop him from pulverizing a sickly stray with one paw already on the Rainbow Bridge. In a fit of rage Frank turned on me, however I calmly swept him back again and again until he tuckered out, and then accepted my offer for a snack. Over the past year he’s mellowed considerably and hasn’t sliced open my skin in months.
Clearly Frank wasn’t happy about being stuffed inside the carrier, and began to yowl the moment the garage door rolled up. By the time I got to my street corner he was singing the song of his people at a volume that made my ears bleed. As I pulled into the animal clinic driveway eight minutes later he was spewing every morsel of food he’d digested since…birth. There was so much fragrant puke deposited at his carrier door, even Jesse turned to face the back of his carrier. I’m positive I saw him cover his nose.
But, I knew this was going to happen.
A year ago Frank performed the same drama, but from his opposite end. Back then I had to throw myself on the mercy of the laughing receptionist for toweling and a bag. This time I brought my own toweling and bag. Good thing too, because I went through half the roll, plus I had to chuck the perfectly good bath towel padding the carrier bottom because there was just too damn much cat puke.
As I got Frank cleaned up inside the car (by the way, I drive a Focus; a tiny car with an even tinier backseat), I used one hand to stop him from jumping into the parking lot while I mopped up the mess with my other hand.
I’m going to stop right here to allow you to applaud my supreme dexterity.
Once inside, Frank entertained the ladies behind the reception desk with his Mariah Carey-like vocals, ranging from soprano to baritone. As we were put into Cat Room #1 where Frank continued to sing, I noticed Jesse was suspiciously quiet. When Dr. Ellis arrived I removed Jess from his carrier, and quickly discovered why he was so quiet…and why the car had stunk so badly.
Apologies to Frank for blaming all the stink on him.
Dr. Ellis handed me the trashcan and I deposited Jesse’s #2 along with a wad of paper toweling, telling her, “Don’t say I never give you anything.” When I mentioned Frank had been sick in the car, she wondered whether it was motion sickness or stress. Probably both.
Jesse was given his Depomedrol injection, and Frank received his yearly vaccinations along with a large dose of Profender because God only knows what that boy puts in his mouth. I stuffed Frank back into his carrier, paid my bill, and loaded my boys back into the car.
Less than 3 minutes from the animal clinic I heard Frank moaning. When I stopped at a red light I turned to see he was hyperventilating with copious amounts of foam dripping from his mouth.
“Dude, pull it together. We’re almost home.”
It was then that I smelled something evil.
With one eye on the road and the other on my drama queen in the back seat, I began to choke. I think Jesse passed out. Not sure. I was seeing stars myself. I couldn’t get the windows down fast enough, or speed up because traffic was crawling in that sadistical way that cars will when you are in a super huge rush to get home because you have a fat tabby in your backseat doing the slip and slide in his own waste.
When Frank’s yowl hit a decibel that Mariah has yet to master, I told him, “You better be sitting at the opposite end of your toilet, buddy, because I’m out of paper toweling and I’m not stopping until we get home in four minutes.”
They were the longest four minutes either of us had ever experienced. While Frank yowled louder, panted harder, and foamed at the mouth until it dripped down his chest, I let my creativity fly by inventing a whole new strain of swear words.
Taking my street corner on two wheels, I pulled into my driveway and into my garage not a moment too soon. Gasping for breath, I released poor Jesse (who fled in search of fresh air) and then ran inside the house to get more paper toweling and cleaning solution. I used most of the toweling wiping Frank’s patootie and feet. Yep, he’d performed the slip and slide, all right.
I’d gladly describe it for you, but I figure if you’re a pet owner you have a good idea of what I was going through. Suffice to say, the aroma that comes out of Frank’s two ends is both memorable and vile.
When I finished with Frank he ran to the door, yowling to be let inside the house.
“Sorry. You need to walk on the grass and clean between your toes before you can go inside.”
He yowled some more, but eventually left the garage, mumbling under his breath.
It took a third roll of toweling to clean his carrier, plus half a bottle of detergent. I hope you’re not reading during lunch or dinner. If you are, my apologies.
Misery loves company.
Okay. Your turn. Tell me a story about your most memorable trip to the vet.