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In Our Own Backyard....It's a case of Jekyll and Hyde

I swore it was going to be different this time. My cats' last visit to the vet turned out to be a non-stop nightmare of screeches, growls and unexplained thumping all the way there. And try as I might, it was difficult to concentrate on my driving with Mufasa and Sunshine trying to outdo one another the entire 30-mile trip.

All three of us arrived wild-eyed at the clinic, and I managed to lug their two crazily rocking crates in through the front door. Then, they betrayed me by purring and sashaying around for the vet like perfect little lap kitties. But as soon I carried them back out the door, they turned into feral cats once again and were not to be appeased until I dumped them out in the middle of their own living room floor once again.

"Never again," I muttered to myself. "Never again...."

I kept putting off their annual visit to the vet this year, coming up with all sorts of excuses as to why I couldn't do it on this week or that. I felt guilty every time I got one of those little reminder cards in the mail that gently prodded me to "protect your cat's health and longevity by making annual visits to their veterinarian."

I knew I could put it off no longer. This time I decided to take a new approach by making a separate appointment, a week apart, for each cat. That way they wouldn't be able to aid and abet each other in their caterwauling, and I would only have to lug one crate instead of two. It seemed like the perfect plan.

Sunshine was first up. I brought the cat crate in from the garage several hours ahead of time and left it in the living room with door ajar for her to explore. I put a soft fleece blanket inside it with one of her favorite catnip mice. All morning, I wandered nonchalantly around it as though it was nothing more out of the ordinary than the television set or the ottoman. Sunshine cast it a few uneasy glances and kept her distance.

When it came time to leave, I gently scooped her up, scratched her behind the ears, and slowly walked over to the carrier and eased her inside. Things seemed to be going well until somehow she managed to grab the door frame with her back toes and refused to go in any further. By the time I managed to unhook her claws and stuff her inside, she was already rocking and rolling.

I set her crate on the front seat of the car so she could see me, and I slid in behind the wheel, determined to keep driving no matter what. We were halfway down the driveway when the first blood curdling yowl came from inside the crate. I stopped next to the mailbox and turned on one of those "music of your life" stations on the radio, thinking it might sooth her.

We made it through Frank Sinatra, Al Martino and Engelbert Humperdinck before I came to the conclusion it wasn't working. Sunshine was making sounds that I'd never heard come out of her before, and I was having a hard time keeping my attention on the road.

I switched to a "golden oldies" station just as Bob Dylan began crooning "Lay Lady Lay." By that time, Sunshine was poking one paw through the door grate of her carrier in a vaguely threatening manner. I decided maybe if I talked to her, the sound of my voice might pacify her. For the next five minutes I discussed the relative merits of Dylan's song-writing genius versus his poor enunciation and gravel-plated vocal chords. Sunshine must not have agreed with me, because she let out a howl that lasted a full 10 seconds. "So much for soothing conversation," I decided, and cranked up Carlos Santana.

When at long last we arrived at the vet's office, Sunshine turned into the perfect little lady. She purred into the stethoscope and even licked the vet's wrist as she was having her claws clipped.

The ride home was a repeat of the ride into town. Sunshine's rage was eclipsed only by her pure misery. And just as we drove up the driveway, she tossed her cookies.

It was hard to say which of us was the most relieved to be home. Sunshine shot off into a closet somewhere, and I dropped into the love seat and closed my eyes.

Then I realized that Mufasa was yet to come....