Today, we’re off to the Vet’s and it’s the turn of Ms Muppet and General Montgomery. If you’ve seen that three page treatise on how to give a cat a pill, you may be wondering why there isn’t one about getting cats into carriers. Well that’s because the process is so deeply traumatic that it can’t be reported without reopening deep psychological wounds. And we’re not talking about the cats here you understand.
Anyway, today is the day and, aiming for nonchalance, I set out the two carriers in a separate room. These are minutely explored, inspected and then inhabited by every cat except my two targets so that guerrilla tactics have finally to be employed. Nabbing Ms Muppet, who is essentially a two-cat-cat-in-a-one-cat-pack, I go for the cooperative approach, pointing her at the entrance to the carrier and shoving gently from behind. So she does what cats uniquely do under those circumstances and morphs into a star shape, grabs the sides of the carrier and hangs there like a gigantic Garfield. I regroup. Pulling backwards, I haul cat and carrier across the room, narrowly avoiding a backward somersault into the litter trays. Ms Muppet lets go to huff off into a corner and sits with her face up against the wall. I sneak up, apply an arm lock and propel her bum first into the box. Door shut, cat contained, job done. Now for the General. Again, I try dignity first, making the suggestion that he takes his seat in the carrier. Not a hope. Propulsion then. He assumes the position and, I swear, exposes an array of seven inch claws at all points, including his tail, simultaneously elongating his jaw and giving me a look that speaks of biomechanical devices lurking beneath fur that now hints at scales and body armour. This is no longer a cat; this is the nightmare product of an Alien-Borg union and I am neither Ripley nor Picard.
I take hold of the front end of the cat; the back end whips around, executes an extraordinarily balletic movement and Miladdo is over my shoulder and abseiling down the back of the computer. I take the carrier to the cat and sneak up from behind, manoeuvring the now winged and primeval monster into it backwards. Cat concertinas and exits via my scalp and I am reminded of an occasion long ago when, cleaning out the habitats of our pet rats, one ran up my arm and stood yelling on top of my head just as the power suddenly went off and cut the lights. There is something quite bizarre about standing in the dark with a shrieking rodent on your head and I subsequently employed it as a chat-up line but without much success, it has to be said.
Back on planet earth, my target is sitting attending to his personal force field and so I pounce – the carrier goes over his head and I worm the door underneath in the tried and tested method for nabbing spiders. Victory, we can leave! – although after all these shenanigans, a bit of a lie down wouldn’t go amiss. I lug them to the car and heave the carriers onto the seats. Block and tackle would be handy. Then comes the racket.
Strapped in and underway, these two set about building a rising cacophony of protest which can only end one way – poo in the blanket. The aroma gathers strength as we negotiate the Saturday traffic and I consider opening the windows to see if sharing it will improve our progress. It certainly gets us plenty of clearance in the waiting room and we’re into the consulting room rather quickly. The vet wrinkles his nose and looks over his glasses at me.
‘He’s a bit loose.’
‘So would you be if you’d been hanging upside down from the roof of your transport and trying to saw your way out with your teeth!’
He flares his nostrils like a horse and seems to conduct a search of his internal diagnostic catalogue for roof-dangling induced squit. He must come up short because he harrumphs, loads a syringe, and inoculates the squitter before you can say offensiveyellowdiarrhoea. We escape, load up, head home minus one offensive blanket, and twenty minutes later I discharge two thoroughly offended felines onto the driveway. Cat treats restore dispositions and my two aliens decamp to the sofa. I locate the savlon and consider tranquiliser darts for next year.
From Not Being First Fish by Suzanne Conboy-Hill. Available from Amazon (non-illustrated edition). Second edition (illustrated) due 2018.