May 01, 2006

Fun at the Rabies Clinic

It seemed like a simple task. Round up the seven cats that live at my house, drive them over to the rabies clinic for their shots, and cross one big item off my summer to-do list.

The three boys agreed to help. Well, that is, after I told them they had to. And I planned ahead of time. I borrowed cat carriers from my parents, found the one we own, and then rigged some makeshift cat carriers by putting laundry baskets upside down on plastic laundry hampers. I kept the cat carriers out in the car so that the cats would not see them ahead of time. I taped big signs on the front and back door telling everyone that that if they let a cat outside today, they would risk the eternal wrath of an angry mother.

All of our cats are former strays, kind of wild in temperament, and they don’t like being put into carriers. My daughter is pretty good at getting the cats to cooperate, but she wasn't here. And I was stupidly wearing a short sleeve shirt in honor of the first warm day we've had this year. That was a mistake. By the time we finally had all the cats loaded into the car, my arms were covered with scratches, and I had lost my temper with several of the cats -- and two of the humans. Our efforts to capture all of the cats had led to overturned beds, screams of pain, and a broken glass. I insisted the boys come along to help, so they wedged themselves sideways into the car, fitting their bodies against plastic boxes of hissing, scratching cats, some of whom smelled like urine by now, since at least one of the cats pees whenever she gets put into a closed container.

As we drove along, I apologized to the occupants of the car and tried to talk in a cheerful tone, as if somehow this was a fun outing. But the kind of technique that works with toddlers most certainly does not work with teenagers or cats. The cats continued to claw and hiss, and I could tell without looking that the boys were rolling their eyes, and giving each other the kind of look that said, "Yeah, she’s crazy." As I pulled into the parking lot, Boy in Black said, "Oh, look at all the dogs in line. That ought to help the situation."

The line stretched across the parking lot, and the animals in the line far outnumbered the humans. And most of the dogs were big dogs, straining at their leashes and barking wildly. While the boys stood guard over the cat containers, grabbing the edges of the makeshift ones every time a cat tried to escape, I attempted to make pleasant conversation with the pet owners around me. Some of our cats went silent, while others hissed and scratched. Thankfully, we stood in line for only twenty minutes or so, and the vet was able to give the cats their shots quickly.

It was a relief to finally get home, and let the cats loose. They disappeared to hide in their favorite spots, reappearing only when I opened some cat food. I felt worn out from the effort, and I know I smelled like cat pee. Spouse was conveniently working late tonight and missed the whole thing. When got home, he seemed surprised by my mood. "You were in such a happy mood when I came home from lunch – wanting to celebrate the last day of class and all that. How is that you are so miserable now?"

I hissed in return.

22 comments:

peripateticpolarbear said...

You're lucky that you didn't scratch him in return.

liz said...

Yowza.

Friday Mom said...

You have my deepest sympathies.

kabbage said...

At least you only have to do this once every 3 years, yes? (I know TX still requires yearly, but I think everybody else has realized that too many vaccinations can be bad, too, and gone to a 3-year protocol, at least for dogs.)

Do people ever train their cats to enjoy or at least tolerate carriers? I have a crate in the kitchen for my dogs. Either or both will go in willingly whether by choice or at my request. Teaching them to like the crate can take a bit of time, but it's so very useful over the lifetime. No cat training experience here, though. In her wild youth, one dog scaled a 7-foot fence to go after someone else's cat, so best not to expect her to live with one.

BeachMama said...

Good reply! Kudos for you, I think I would have done it in two trips.

We have two large dogs and it is a real treat to take them to the vet, let me tell ya ;)

jo(e) said...

Kabbage: Yeah, we don't have to do it again for three years.

Cats are not like dogs when it comes to being trained. Especially if they are former strays.

BeachMama: I did think of doing it in two trips but the clinic only runs for two hours (and it only happens once each year), and with all the waiting in line and all, I didn't think I would have time for two trips.

Mona Buonanotte said...

Sergei and I have this routine...when he takes the cat to the vet for her yearly exam/shots, he phones me at work and leaves a voice mail of the cat...meowingmeowingmeowing repeatedly and in cat-stress. I save those messages and re-play them when I have a bad day. They make me laugh...is that rude of me?

ccw said...

LOL! I have been trying to round my 5 up for a trip to the clinic, but the mean one seems to know that the shot clinic is only open one day a week and stays conveniently hidden until after 8 pm on Sundays.

Yankee T said...

I had one cat in my life who, when commanded, would get in the carrier. She was amazing. Every single other cat I have ever had made my life total hell on "vet day". I am howling with your relaying of the story-as much the part about the teenagers as about the hissing, pissing, scratching cats.
Glad it's over for a few years. Next time, you'll be without Boy In Black. You'll have to borrow an extra for help.

zelda1 said...

All the fun of cat transport, how well I remember. After a while, I just bought the vaccine at the coop and gave the cats their shots. I didn't, however, give my dog his, I felt we needed good documentation, not that he was a biter, but he did roam our community and while everyone loved him, you just never know when an old dog's bark might be a real warning that yep, I'm fed up.

Rana said...

I feel your pain. I'd have hissed too.

Whenever I'm visiting my parents, I inevitably get tapped to help my mom take pets to the vet. Our cats are not hissers or scratchers; they scrabble frantically and in terror on the way into the box, yowl piteously until hoarse in the car, cower in their crates in the waiting room, turn into rigid shedding lumps on the vet's table, and yowl and cry on the way home.

Exhausting. We must love the little buggers, eh?

Lorna said...

laughing and feeling bad that I did

HeyJules said...

Yeah, I'm with Lorna on this one. We do at least feel bad about the laughter...hopefully, you'll let us come and play here again. : )

Bitty said...

Best closing line ever!

Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

We occasionally put all three into one big carrier --they hate it, bu they finally get over it. You and the boys are good cat parents, even if the cats don't appreciate it :).

I hope the scratches heal soon!

Oldman said...

Great Heavens! Seven is at least 6 too many cats…

Kristiface said...

Ugh! We have only three!

The last time I transported one of them, the cat peed in the carrier while in my car... on the end where it hung off the seat so cat urine could get into the fabric of my car. Thanks a lot kitty-- it's no wonder we call him "the Pisser."

But bless you for getting them their shots in spite of all the trouble! Many people would do much less!

halloweenlover said...

I kept waiting to read that one had escaped while in line! What a nightmare that would be.

Glad it is over and done with for 3 years!

joanna said...

After our hideous romp with Snickerdoodle last fall, we've taken to using the cat leashes and harnesses. Although he hates it just as much, he is much easier to get into the car and into the vet's office. He was a feral kitten, and I think that he is honestly terrified of carriers and boxes since he has always run and hid from both.
I think you deserve a purple heart for taking SEVEN cats anywhere. You're a mighty powerful woman, Jo(e).

Sue said...

I've learned from my cats that hissing is a good response in many situations.

My big cat is due for his shots, but I'm putting it off because the vet will give me hell about his size. He's really not that fat -- he's just stocky. Also, we had to buy a small dog carrier to transport him there because the largest cat carrier was too small and he just wouldn't fit. I think he finds the dog carrier insulting. He hissed at me when I put him in it last time...

Psycgirl said...

My cat is good with a carrier, he goes in no problem and just sleeps when he's in there (my last cat involved a chase around the house and lots of clawing/hissing, feet stuck to the outside braced against you and peeing). It makes it AWESOME when we go to the vet or travel. My tips are:
- leave the carrier out somewhere so the cat can go in it when they want to. My cat sleeps in his carrier sometimes. If you pull it out once in a blue moon it signals catastrophe!
- take them places other than the vet in the carrier. We also travel to relatives homes, so its not only associated with the vet
- drive them around in the car in it when they're little.

Of course, teaching an old cat this trick.. I'm sure its impossible!

the reverend mommy said...

sounds like it almost was a cat-astophe.
=o)