I am not a cat person. Yes, cats are graceful and agile; their ability to land on their feet enviable; their independence exemplary when not infuriating; and their predilection for catching mice utterly pragmatic for barn owners. But I am allergic to them. Not life-threateningly so, just eyes itching and nose lighting up like Rudolph’s upon close encounters.
The MMSC has had a series of cats over my 5 year tenure. They come, they go. For quite sometime the MMSC had been in a “go” phase, courtesy of Swoop, the hawk, a self appointed rodent controller. But then one day Swoop went too. Enter the kittens: Jasper, the tuxedo with a Daniel Boone hunting instinct, and Sam, the cream tabby, a Don Juan.
At the MMSC, we advocate responsible animal ownership, which, of course, applies to cats, as well as horses. Spaying and neutering is a must. So when I got back after the New Year and saw that the two boys had come of age, an appointment was made at the Woodford Equine Hospital which so generously tends to our veterinary needs. On the day of this rite of passage, I incarcerated Sam and Jasper in the feed room (I didn’t want them to go MIA at the time of departure), and found a cardboard box large enough for both. Stabbing madly like the killer in the chilling shower scene in Psycho, I perforated the sides with a pair of red handled scissors. I am not a cat hater, after all. I didn’t want them to suffocate.
“Here, kitty kitties,” I crooned, cracking the feed room door. Smelling a “rat,” the two streaked through my legs. It took a while (during which the sky was darkening, the rain clouds were thickening and my language was getting increasingly colorful) before I caught them. I stuffed them (as gently as I could for you PETA people out there) into the Psycho box, and flipped down the cardboard sections of the top. But I wasn’t quick enough with the duck tape. One head popped out on the right, another on the left. Both tails ended up in my hands. I let go of Sam (the heftier of the two), clasped Jasper, shoved him down and sealed him in. It took a while longer to find another box as well as to lure Sam back into my good graces, but in time he, too, was in lock down.
The ride to the clinic was symphonic. Rain drummed on the windshield. The cats launched into arias of desperation as if they were being gutted alive for violin strings and I chimed apologies and reassurances in a taut falsetto. Not only that, but like the 1812 Overture that always finishes with cannon fire, our journey’s finale was marked by a powerful emission of a different kind, the distinctive odor of which hit my nostrils as I pulled up to the clinic’s door. “Thank the Lord,” I smugly thought, “I was smart enough to incarcerate them!”
|Dr. True Blue Baker and the three Gs, from left: Greta, Ginger Snap, and Gazelle|
Reeking I entered the clinic seeking one of the three Gs. No, not the three Gs of Antiquity--Splendor, Mirth, and Cheer-- but the three Gs of the Woodford Equine Hospital: “Gazelle” (veterinary assistant Marguerite Kissel with the long, leggy stride), “Greta,” (Dr. Julia Bentley, with the Garbo eyebrows), and “Ginger Snap,” (Dr. Jennifer Jordan, of the autumn eyes and hair and spicy personality), any of whom could have relieved me. In the Xray room with Dr. True Baker (Dr. True Blue because he is a totally classy gent inside and out and has beautiful blue eyes), these fair damsels curled up their noses upon Sam’s and my entrance--except for True, who smiled politely and shook his head in kind commiseration. Despite my tales of tribulations, none offered to take my stinking bundle, although, they did find another box in which to place him so I could fetch the Psycho box.
As I carried it in to the 3 Gs, I grew increasingly uneasy. It was quiet, disturbingly quiet. I tilted the box to one side: Slide...THUD! Then to the other: Slide....Thud!
“Oh NO! Ladies! I’ve killed him!,” I cried. “I knew I should have poked more holes!!!” I ripped open the top, dreading what I would see.
Jasper looked up at me, yawning. How impossibly arrogant and cat-like of him while I (not to mention Felix, my Chevy Equinox, who spent the next day in the barn, doors and windows open, heavily Fabreezed, replacing one pungent smell for another) was such a reeking wreck!!!
The following morning beloved intern Catherine Flowers spared me a repeat of this harrowing journey. Amazingly, Sam and Jasper arrived back at the MMSC dozing on the seats of her car in liberty. No Psycho box for her! But then again, I should have known. She is definitely a cat person. In fact, I think I am going to call her CAT-erine from now on.