March 11, 2021
10:04 a.m. I am relaxing a bit, steeling myself for the annual trauma of getting my two cats to the veterinarian. It is not the trip to or from the Cat Clinic and Hospital that I dread, but the hazardous task of capturing the critters and placing them in their carriers. As this job is prone to inflict injuries, I am wearing jeans and my heaviest long-sleeved woolen shirt. Gloves are within easy reach.
Charlie and Linus do not normally seem high-strung. They are both lap cats who often arrange themselves on my lap when I sit down to watch television. (Although Charlie will sit on my lap, he actually prefers lying across my chest with his head on my shoulder.) Getting the cats ready for their annual veterinary visit involves (1) finding them, (2) capturing them, and (3) placing them into their temporary cages. Each of these steps can go awry.
I don’t know where either cat is at the moment. I haven’t seen them since I gave them their breakfast. To limit where they can hide, a number of doors are closed, and I spent much of my day yesterday straightening up, so that a crazed cat can do as little damage as possible. I blocked off known hiding places as best I could. Extracting a cat who doesn’t want to move from under a bed is a trying enterprise. The cats may be upstairs now, but I am confident that they will come downstairs eventually.
I schedule my veterinary appointments on a day when a student housekeeper can help with the requisite three tasks. Having a second person available, particularly a swift, young one, can be a great help. Actually, the second person is essential.
Either cat can give me a hard time, but working with Linus is by far the more difficult. Linus has never liked to be picked up and carried even though he loves laps and being petted. When picked up, he tends to fight as if his life depends on it. He does so with no holds barred, and he runs away after extracting himself from my clutches. (This is the point at which first aid may be necessary.) I am cautiously optimistic today, as Linus has seemed less skittish of late and occasionally allows me to carry him short distances without inflicting injuries. Charlie is generally more coöperative and likely will not put up too much of a fight once I’ve taken care of his more troublesome brother.
10:43 a.m. A quick check upstairs locates neither cat. I’m concerned but not yet panicked. I also check under my bed, even though I have been keeping my bedroom door closed. Both cats like to spend time under the bed, and I am gratified to find the area cat-free.
11:00 a.m. I’m taking a quick trip to Arby’s to get a sandwich for lunch. This allows me to take my mind off the cats for a while.
11:36 a.m. Lunch is over. Cats are still in hiding. I’m going to sit down and watch television for a few minutes, as this is usually an invitation to the cats to join me.
11:58 a.m. The television-watching strategy is unsuccessful. It is time for a thorough search of the house. Despite searching upstairs and down-, my helper and I discover no cats, having looked behind and under furniture, in bathrooms and closets, and into every nook or cranny that seems like a possible hiding place. Where could they be? The cats never disappear so completely. I try sitting in front of the television again. I spread some cat treats on the floor, which usually act as cat magnets. No cats appear.
12:35 p.m. Time to call the Cat Clinic to say I will either be late or will need to reschedule. A recorded message announces that the staff is at lunch.
12:43 p.m. After two more bootless calls, I decide to leave a callback message. I say that I may not make my 2 p.m. appointment and should be called as soon as possible.
1:15 p.m. My call is returned. I explain that I cannot find my cats and will be, at best, late. We decide to reschedule for the same time next week. Sigh!
1:45 p.m. I go back to watching television. (The Pittsburgh Pirates are playing a spring training game against the Baltimore Orioles.)
2:18 p.m. Linus appears upstairs from God knows where. There’s still no sign of Charlie. Linus runs downstairs, past the field of cat treats, and disappears behind the Clavinova, a favorite hiding place in times past. I look over the instrument and see him staring up at me sheepishly. I begin to think that the cats somehow knew what was in store for them today, but I don’t know how they might have known that.
3:15 p.m. Charlie jumps into my lap as I’m watching television. I have no idea where he came from. A few minutes later, he discovers the treats on the floor and devours most of them.
3:58 p.m. Linus discovers the few treats missed by Charlie.
Everyone is accounted for now. I still have no clue as to where the cats have been or why they decided to go there. Next Thursday, I plan to close the door at the top of the stairs, thereby confining the cats downstairs. They must have hidden somewhere upstairs. I hope that today’s episode will not be duplicated next week.
I will report on our visit to the Cat Clinic next week.