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.