Published 12:02 pm Thursday, September 21, 2023

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It started with a seemingly innocuous little sneeze from our 16-year-old cat, Tippy, whom we’ve had since a rescued kitten. And then, as happens in a household of children, an upper respiratory infection spread like wildfire through all five cats, despite being vaccinated for everything and living indoors.

I had let them out on our upstairs balcony which is something not dissimilar to a tree house in that they can lie luxuriously in the sun and watch squirrels scurry up and down trees and birds wing overhead. Had some mysterious, air-borne illness come over them? We don’t know but I will tell you this: while I can easily parallel park a dually pick-up in two moves (without a back-up camera, you amateurs), and operate a 1954 tractor with panache, child, that is nothing compared to both Paul’s and my skill of loading five cats up in carriers to take en masse to the vet. 

Because once you even drag out the first carrier, all five cats leave skid marks as they dive under different beds. They freeze the moment they simply hear the turn of the knob to the ‘Harry Potter’ storage closet beneath the stairs regardless if they are eating or posing with one leg inelegantly stretched to the sky while doing a spot of grooming, tongues still poking out. There was, however, less of a struggle this time in that Bernie was developing a fever and distinctly unwell while two others were already congested.

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There was the usual disagreement of which cats would share a carrier: “Mia will rip everyone to shreds,” “Bernie’s too big to share,” and “Georgie will totally freak out on his own” but in the end, we dropped them in their respective carriers using the trick of turning the carriers on their sides and lowering each cat inside—much easier than trying to push them in.

Making the short drive to the vet’s office filled our heads with ‘Bank Balance Russian Roulette:’ would each cat need only a cursory exam followed by the administration of antibiotics, or would bloodwork also be necessary with added medications?

Mind you, I’ve not had a check-up in 3 years. The cats (and horses, natch) drain finances with annual checkups and annual dental exams as well. I tend to only make a dental appointment just before my own teeth start looking like Indian corn.

We chose soft classical music to play as we were serenaded by pitiful yowls coming from the backseat of Paul’s Subaru and I kept Mia, in her single crate, on my lap. Glancing sympathetically at her through the caged door I was met with a demonic stare that promised flayed flesh in return. Alrighty, then…

It was a relief to learn that all cats would need only a shot of antibiotics although Bernie also came home with an oral anti-fever medication. When we returned we opened their carrier doors and stood quickly back so as not to take a hit to the solar plexus by five, hurtling fur-covered footballs. They were discombobulated, not quite trusting the ground on which they tread, or doorways they thought they knew well. And they looked at us with complete distrust. I don’t blame them. Nobody likes to go to the doctor. Which reminds me: I’ve got to schedule the dreaded colonoscopy.

Paul’s going to need to find a huge crate to carry me in.