February 24, 2018

Visit to the Veterinarian

I woke up Thursday with a sense of dread. After avoiding making veterinary appointments for my cats Charlie and Linus, the day had finally come when I would have to capture the little beasts and confine them to their carriers. Fortunately, their appointments come only once a year, but I had vivid memories of the battle of wits that had occurred last year. By the time I had put the cat carriers into the car, I was bandaged and exhausted, and I was only slightly relieved that the cat hunt would likely not make us arrive late at our destination.

Charlie and Linus are wonderful and loving cats that, for most of the year, are a joy to have around. After sitting down at my desk or in front of the television, one or both cats usually finds his way to my lap. Well, Linus likes to be on my lap. So does Charlie, though he often climbs on my shoulder, which can make it hard to type or see the television screen.

I have never had any trouble picking up Charlie, to take him to the bathroom scale for a weighting, for example. (Each cat could afford to drop a couple of pounds. At the suggestion of my vet, I have been feeding them an obscenely expensive prescription food and making an attempt to monitor their weight.) Linus is another matter. Although the cats are litter mates, Linus has always been much more skittish than his brother. When I was first saw them considering adopting them, Charlie was willing to come close to me, but Linus did his best to hide.

Linus, in fact, is almost impossible to carry. If he is sitting on my lap and I try to rise and pick him up, he quickly escapes my grip and runs away. If he feels himself being restrained, he fights with a fearsomeness more often associated with the largest and meanest of carnivores. Although both cats often disappear behind or under furniture, Linus sequesters himself more frequently.

I had a plan for getting the cats into their carriers. To begin with, I followed the advice of various pet authorities and have had their carriers out and open for the past year. At one time or another, each cat had voluntarily entered one of the carriers, but this had not become a regular habit. Besides, I was less concerned with their comfort at being confined than I was with the process of confining them in the first place.

Preparation for the task ahead began with getting dressed. I put on my long-sleeve canvas Carhartt work shirt and had my leather gloves handy. I was hoping that shirt and gloves would provide protection from frantically waving claws. I closed the bedroom door to prevent any cat from retreating beneath the bed. (Extracting a cat from under the bad had proven difficult in the past.) Because the cats often sit on my lap or approach me in the bathroom, I had positioned one carrier beside my desk chair and one carrier in the bathroom just in case I got lucky.

My timing was probably a little off. In the early morning the cats are always out and about, waiting for food and fresh water. A bit later—I had not realized this before—they tend to nap, often in out-of-the-way places. I had timed the appointments to avoid rush hour traffic and to allow time to catch Charlie and Linus and put them into their carriers. I also took into account that I could have a helper, Olivia, around should she be needed. I put out two small bowls of cat treats in the hope that this would lure the animals out of their hiding places, but, when we pulled out of the driveway, the treats remained untouched.

One of the cat carriers
When my schedule called for corralling the cats, they were both under or behind furniture. It was time to call Olivia. Her job would be to wield a broom to flush the cats into the open. This worked pretty well for Charlie.  He walked out of his hiding place, and I was able to grab him without difficulty. I lowered him into the carrier, and Olivia zipped up the cover.

One down and one to go. Linus was hiding under a daybed. Two sides were blocked, and the two short sides were partially blocked. Olivia worked one side, and I worked the other. I thought I might be able to grab Linus as he came out from under the bed. He was, of course, much too fast for me. He ran between the litter box and the cat tree, which was set against the wall. I thought I had him trapped, but I was fooled again. Linus ran at breakneck speed across the room and up the stairs, a move I had not expected. At the top of the stairs was a closed door, so I seemed to have Linus trapped in a blind alley. I lunged to grab him, and he literally tried to climb the wall. The wall, however, was featureless plaster, and, although Linus gave it a good college try, there was nowhere for him to go. Moreover, his attempt to climb the wall meant the his body was stretched out so as to make him easy to grab. I clutched his torso, and thrust him into the carrier, which Olivia had brought up behind the two of us. A moment later, the top of the carrier was zipped up, and I was ready to put the cats into the car.

The trip to the vet was relatively uneventful. The cats rode in the back of the car, each huddled at one end of a carrier. They whimpered now and then, and I tried to say something reassuring in reply. Surprisingly, both cats were reasonably well behaved on the examination table. The vet even picked up and held Linus without injury to anyone present.

The ride home was uneventful. I let the cats out of their carriers at the top of the stairs, and I went downstairs myself a few minutes later. By that time, the treats had disappeared, and so had the cats. I poured myself a glass of port and relaxed with a movie. Charlie and Linus showed up later in the evening as though nothing out of the ordinary had happened.

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