Cat gags, hound yodels and donkey brays

Published 10:44 am Wednesday, April 5, 2023

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If Paul and I can go a month without a vet bill, it’s cause to clink two beer cans together in celebration.


We didn’t get that lucky stretch of thirty days this past month here at Downton Tabby, as my friend, John, has coined our cat infested cabin. Our dear Maine Coon/Manx mix, Bernie, showed digestive distress, so we set up an appointment with our vet and I drove him over.

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Bernie is huge and sweetly lovable. He’s not much of a lap cat—evidently, that is symptomatic of Maine Coons—but he loves to wind himself around one’s legs or bump his head against my hand or knees when sitting down. He’s been wonderfully acceptable to new arrivals William and the ever growing Georgie, who has yet to purr or show any sort of gratitude for anything. In fact, Georgie has entered our lives as if busting through saloon doors, sizing up the competition.


But Bernie, despite having paws like catcher gloves, has never used his claws or teeth. And when I placed him into the cat carrier, although worried, he meekly submitted and I placed the carrier gently next to me on the bench while waiting our turn to be called by Dr. Lindsey.


“You sure have one, quiet cat,” observed a woman sitting opposite, holding snugly onto the lead of her very large mongrel dog. “If it was my cat, he’d be howling his head off.”


“He’s a good boy,” I said, poking my finger through the carrier cage door for Bernie to rub against. “He doesn’t really meow, even at home. Sort of makes a chirping noise, like a bird.” I gave a vocal example.


“What’s he in for?” she asked, as if enquiring over a prison sentence.


“Something’s going on with his stomach,” I replied. “He’s trying to throw up, but can’t.”




“I don’t think so. You know, they all have that weird little cough when trying to bring up a hairball.” To illustrate, I made the obligatory sound of a hollow cough to illustrate. “But he’s making no noise at all. He just opens his mouth, tries, and that’s it.”


“Oh, yeah,” the woman went on. “That’s the hairball noise for sure. Then, if they’re sick in the night, it’s that ‘errpy’ sound and you have, like, 5 seconds to grab them before they vomit on the rug.” And, to distinguish between both conditions, she made a gagging sound exactly as if she’d just stuck her finger down her throat.


“You realize what we’re doing, right?” I asked her with a smile. She shook her head.


“We’re doing the same thing people do when they take their cars to the mechanic and try to make the noise their car is making.”


The woman, puzzled, frowned for a moment, then laughed. “I guess we are.”


Bernie was swept away by the kindly vet tech and later released with a prescription for anti-nausea tablets. Hopefully, they’ll do the trick. He probably ate a stink bug or something.


In the meantime, while many comedians are gifted with the ability of mimicry, doing wonderful impressions of movie stars or political figures, my talent seems to be limited to imitating critters. I may not be able to sound like Joan Rivers or Donald Trump, but I’ve now been able to add cat gags, hound yodels and donkey brays to my repertoire.


Not that impressive for my CV, but definitely in demand should anyone ever bring back “Hee-Haw.”