Cats On Tuesday, Pt. 3

Emma Meets the Vet

Last week’s story continues, with a howling, virtually feral kitten in a cat carrier, screeching incessantly in the back of my tiny Toyota on a chilly November morning en route to the vet's office in Hoboken.

I'd been taking my cats to this particular veterinary clinic for nine years, and was friends with one of the vet techs and, by strange coincidence, one of the veterinarians and I had a mutual friend back in Georgia, where I'd grown up and she'd gone to vet school at UGA in Athens. But on that morning, neither of them were available.

Emma and I waited in the tidy little exam room, full of its strange antiseptic smells and the echoes of barks and scrabblings of other animals. I would've been frightened, too.

The yowls had subsided to the occasional hiss from the tiny tortie kitten in the crate.

Soon a vet tech appeared. Jose was tall and thin, with short dark hair and wore clean, green scrubs. I quickly explained our situation, and when he leaned in to look into the crate, Emma hissed and growled most threateningly.

He stepped back quickly and said, "I'll be right back.”

When he reappeared, he was wearing thick brown leather falconer gloves, the kind that protect your arms up above the elbows. "Okay," he continued, a bit shakily. "Let's see what we have."

No sooner was the cat carrier door opened than Emma shot out of the crate like a bottle rocket. She fired off the table and sprang from wall to wall to wall, scrambling from corner to corner of the tiny room.

Jose and I stood frozen, watching the fiery orange ball bounce from surface to surface, looking for a means of escape or, barring that, somewhere--anywhere--to hide.

Finally, the terrified little creature stopped moving for a moment to weigh her options, which she could see were very few. No escape, no place to hide. She froze about a foot away from me and looked me up and down.

"Oh, my gosh," I thought, in that kind of panicked, slow-motion way that happens in an emergency situation or a nightmare, "This demon-beast is going to climb up me like a tree."

Then I thought, "Well, at least I'm wearing overalls..."

And in an instant Emma did just that--a spring-loaded octopus with fistfuls of hypodermic needles, the wild-eyed, frenzied kitten tore right up me just like a tree and clung in terror to my shoulder (at least she didn’t climb any higher, to perch on my head with her fearsome little claws fish-hooked into my scalp).

Jose and I both remained frozen for another moment or two, with Emma panting next to my ear, firmly anchored to my left shoulder.

Jose slowly approached, reaching out with his leather gloves, and managed to get a firm hold on her, pulling her loose without damaging me (or her) in the process.

“Um, I think I’d better take her in the back,” he said. “We have to draw some blood.”

“Oh,” I replied, still a little stunned. “Okay.”

With the kitten held out in front of him at arms’ length, he turned to go, and I opened the door to the hall for him. The fight seemed to have gone out of her, and she hung there, limp and quiet.

But not for long…just moments after I shut the door behind them, I heard a loud crash, then curses and screams (both human and kitten) from across the hall. Another crash, then more yelling. Some running footsteps. More cursing, but muffled this time.

Then a long, suspenseful wait for me in the cold examining room. How could something so small cause such a ruckus?

After about fifteen mintues, one of the veterinarians returned with Jose. He didn’t look any worse for the wear, but eyed me and cautiously ventured, “Who told you that you could take in a feral kitten?”

I felt a bit defensive, but tried to remain steady. “Well, I’ve done it before. With my first cat, Grey. He hid for a few weeks, but now he’s a great cat.”

“Oh,” was all Jose had to say.

The vet stepped in. “We had to sedate her to get blood.”

I tried not to laugh. Something so tiny, getting the best of several people, to the point that it took a sedative to do something as simple as draw blood! (You go, little kitten!) But, wisely, I kept a straight face, knowing that she could’ve hurt me pretty badly too with that wild climb up my body.

“She needs to be spayed, too, if she’s old enough,” I said.

"She is--she's probably about six months old. But we don’t have any openings until tomorrow. Can you bring her back?”

Ha! I thought. Bring her back? Yeah, good luck getting that fiendess back in the carrier again.

“No, I don’t think so. I doubt I can get her back in the crate. Can you board her tonight, and spay her tomorrow?”

“Yes,” the vet conceded. “I suppose we could do that.”

“And maybe give her the vaccinations she needs while you’re at it?”


So that’s how Emma met the vet, and how five pounds of frightened kitten very nearly got the best of several hundred pounds of humans.

And by the way, as I was leaving, the vet did add, “Cats with those sort of tortiseshell markings tend to be little spitfires!”

Ah, so true.

Now Emma kneads my belly, curls up with us in bed, and is truly a lovely, loving and affectionate girl (as long as we never forget who’s in charge).

Only much later did I find out that that had been Jose’s first day as a vet tech.


Chris said...

Aww... Poor Jose - baptism by fire!!

Anonymous said...

I posted yesterday on your trap post...you can actually sedate in a trap with isolaters (sold at animal handling places, ACES, for example) so that the vet techs and cats don't need to risk injury and unneeded stress. I've even had them give muscle relaxers through traps for cats who couldn't be put under so they could rabies vacc them and get them to a kennel/do a quick exam. It's a lot better for the cats then safety gloved/Kevlar sleeved hands manhandling them. I have a borderline feral who went to a vet who did this and it took over a year before I could *touch* him b/c he was so traumatized by it.

Anonymous said...

Now the question is ...
was it Jose's LAST day as a vet tech?

Emma is a very pretty girl. I'm glad she calmed down for you. We had a feral years ago. He never did calm down. :-(

Anonymous said...

WOW-What a story!!!
So what does it feel like to be a tree? Gee,I wonder if Emma could talk what her version would be?
I am sure Jose will never forget Emma and he probably told this story a million times since that day.

Elizabeth said...

A great tale! You're lucky she calmed down. I have had a stray (my big grey) tear up the wall at a vet's and ruin a window blind. Appears he has 'issues' being confined :)
I have a long feral story too but it will have to wait for next week, I'm afraid.

Obsidian Kitten said...

i wanted to thank jessecoug before for her wisdom on the havahart trap, and now she has even *more* great stuff to say on the cat-trapping matter.

i only realized later what a risk we were taking (both to ourselves and to Emma) by going about things the way we did, and how fortunate I am that she's turned out to be such a well-adjusted cat after such a horrifying ordeal.

mrspao said...

She is gorgeous! We have wild Perdita who hasn't completely calmed down yet...

Anonymous said...

I've enjoyed Emma's story. I have a Tortie Point Siamese, and she has "tortitude". Victoria is a very loving warrior princess. She can sharpen her claws while hanging from her cat tree. What a gal! Anyway, I recognize Emma's "tortitude" too.

Gattina said...

Sorry I missed you yesterday because you didn't put your link in Mr. Linky ! It always starts from my blog except next week it's at Caylinn's (link on my blog) Sorry I am in a hurry I just came by to tell you that our suitcases are packed and Pookie sleeps in one. Tomorrow at 7 am we are off ! I am happy to escape this bad Belgian weather !

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

Glaistig said...

“Cats with those sort of tortiseshell markings tend to be little spitfires!”

Ha, the markings of a diva for sure! JLo stand aside, ya hear!

RheLynn said...

Ahhh, wonderful story - you had me awwing and laughing ;o) Poor Emma and Jose and you! What a wonderful thing you have done though, maybe when you got home Grey 'explained' things to her?

Anonymous said...

My pleasure! I'm glad she's turning out to be so wonderful as well! :)

Obsidian Kitten said...

tortitude, haw!

that's the word for it, alright! lol

MsFortuknit said...

Mrs peel should hook up with damian!b Talk about a couple! hahah