Author’s note: A slightly different version of this column was originally published many years ago in the pages of The Itawamba County Times. Given the time of year and the growing number of scabs on my cat’s skin (you’ll see what I’m talking about momentarily), I thought the time was right to share it with a new audience. I hope you enjoy it far more than I enjoy what inspired it.
My neurotic cat Bathory suffers from a descriptively titled condition known as “scabby cat disease.” I’m sure you think this is something I made up in one of my usual poor attempts to be funny. I did not. That’s what it’s called.
Every other month or so, Bathory has to be hauled to the vet for a steroid shot because she has scratched and bitten herself into near-oblivion. The doc tells me she’s allergic to something, although he said it’s darn near impossible to tell what. Could be her food; could be other cats; could be something in the house; could be life itself. No matter, the end result is that there are times when she’s little more than a pile of shredded flesh and patchy fur held together by patented feline willfulness.
These trips are not pleasant.
Given that I have to take her to see the doctor on a regular basis and, minus the car ride, the visit takes all of 30 seconds and makes her life a little less miserable for at least a few weeks, you’d think she’d be jumping for joy every time I break out the pet carrier.
This is, of course, not the case. It’s a fight every time.
Now, Bathory’s too dumb to remember she can A.) outrun me, and B.) squeeze into spaces only felines can fit, like the hairline gap between the couch and the living room wall or the area between particles of dust. Catching her isn’t a problem. However, squeezing her into the carrier as she twists and contorts her body into unnatural positions is a skill I have yet to master. It usually ends in bloodshed. Mostly mine.
Once she’s caged, Bathory makes sure to register her displeasure loudly and repeatedly, wailing as if I were steadily plucking out her claws and replacing each of them with hot sewing needles. This ballyhooing will continue throughout the 10-minute ride to our vet. If evildoers each get a personalized version of hell, mine would consist of an eternity of being locked in a car filled with caged cats.
Bathory is welcomed by her vet with gentle tones and sympathies she doesn’t deserve. When I open her cage door, I fully expect the cat to explode all over the veterinarian. In my heart, I know I will have to step gingerly when we leave his office or else risk slipping in the gallons of blood or bits of tattered skin that will soon be covering his floor.
Instead, my cat comes creeping out of her cage as pleased as can be, tail held high like she owns the darn place. The doctor snatches her up, takes her internal temperature the unpleasant but necessary way, and gives her her shot all in a matter of seconds.
She doesn’t utter a single word of complaint. When he’s finished, he gently coaxes her back into her cage, into which she goes willingly. Bathory does everything short of sending him a personalized thank-you card.
“She’s a good cat,” he says, and I respond earnestly, “Yeah, she really is.”
My opinion changes over the 10-minute ride back home.