Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.

This blog is dedicated to Commenter Jeff,who travels with his cat from New York City to his weekend place upstate and has never mentioned being deaf.

I am in a strange place right now, this place between Writing and Rewriting. I had been told by several experienced writer friends that I might experience something akin to post-partum depression when the first-draft was done. What I feel is more like the weird manic spurt of energy I felt when I sent Daughter to her first day of pre-school. The small emotional blip of “My baby…! My baby has a lunchbox…!” was quickly superseded by “I have three hours to call my own. I’ll…go to the gardening store without someone sticking her tiny fingers into bags of peat moss. No, wait! I’ll start taking ballet again. No, no, I’ve got it! I’ll join a daytime book club, and…wait! I can do all three! Today!” The book is only absent until it is present again and when it comes back it will come back with notes. To flog the analogy of the child at school: before I know it, the book will be home from school, vomiting and sporting an itchy rash. I had to gather my rosebuds while I may.

So, of course, I took the cat to the vet. Lulabelle's vaccinations were sorely overdue. When half of one's meals fervently object to being meals and tend to bite and scratch their way through the process of becoming digestive material, one get exposed to more diseases than the average indoor cat. As I've mentioned before, I don’t like Lu being an outdoor girl but she came to us as an outdoor cat and it’s nearly impossible to unring the bell of freedom and bloodlust once it's been set in place. I knew she needed her shots but between the holidays, and then starting to home-school, and then finishing the book, getting the cat jabbed in the backside kept slipping below the waterline of my list of priorities. I even kept the vet's reminder card in my purse so I would feel a nice cuticle-rip of guilt every time I looked for my keys. Eventually, though, I just factored pet vaccination guilt into all the other guilts which assault me upon purse-opening; things like “I really must use up these Christmas stamps…” and “Augh! Dental floss! Close the purse!”

Finally, I had no excuses left. Daughter and Consort were spending the morning together and the book was nestled snugly in the bowels of Hyperion Press. The cat was waiting around for her breakfast so she hadn’t left for the day. I glanced into the bedroom. She lay on the bed, lolling in the morning sun. I crept into the back room and quietly, patiently, slid the cat carrier down from it's shelf. I walked back out, hands empty. History had proven that if I even thought about a cat carrier or a veterinarian, Lulabelle would crouch in the two-inch space between the armoire and the wall for up to a week at a time, so I deliberately thought about sandals. Fat lot of good it did. I got to the bedroom door and Lulabelle’s head snapped up like a fire alarm. She sneered at me and made a break for it. I barricading the door with my body. She veered back and dived under the dresser, a place from which she can bat at me and I retaliate by getting batted at and inhaling a lungful of spider-carcasses and dust. When I paused to try to cough up what seemed to be one of Daughter’s hair-ribbons, Lulabelle made a bolt for the bedroom door. Being the moron I am, I grabbed her around the abdomen, compounding her shame by yelling something like “Ha HA!” which Lulabelle took as a request to walk across the length of my body using only her claws and incisors. Deciding that my most attractive traits are stubbornness and unstaunched bleeding, I chose to continue my hold on to her torso as she dragged herself and me out of the room.

Reaching the doorway, she gathered her strength and sprung from my grasp. Summoning my inner Cirque de Soleil, I vaulted forward, grabbing what I could reach of her, which of course was her tail; my chest and knees bouncing off the floor as I slid behind her like a water-skier. Her patience with me now thoroughly spent, she spun on her front legs and stuck her back nails in my nose; I howled in outrage and grabbed any part of her not currently giving my face edgy new piercings. It was then that the dog walked in. The cat and I froze, one of my hands holding her tail, another trying to put her in a headlock, her nails in my nose, her sphincter perilously close to my mouth. Whatever the dog thought, he backed out of the room, his eyes averted.

It took another fifteen minutes and three heartbreakingly close near-misses, but I was finally able to lock Lulabelle in her crate with nearly all of my extremities intact. It was then that the morning got really lively. I wasn’t entirely truthful before: her vaccinations had been postponed not only because of a wide-ranging schedule, but because Lulabelle is the least pleasant driving-companion I have ever known. I’ve had cats who vomited when driven places, or urinated, or made their feelings known vocally, but never had I had a cat who could pull off all three in under a minute. Wisely, knowing her ways, I had chosen not to feed her that morning, but that didn’t save me from her noise. If you will, imagine a motorcycle which revs eternally but never turns over. Now, layer over that a spoon caught in an industrial-strength garbage disposal and a sample of the world’s oldest man trying to cough up a pimento. That’s my baby. She makes this noise without cease until she is brought home and sprung from her molded plastic hell-hole.

I jammed the case into the car.


I put in my iPod.


I turned up the volume slightly.


A trash truck went by, dragging a pipe behind it. We drove by a building being demolished. An ambulance sped past. I heard nothing from outside the car.


The parking lot for the vet was full. This was street-cleaning day and the legal side of the street was packed. I parked three blocks away. The fresh air invigorated her.


I held the case away from my body because she kept trying to sever my tendons. People on the sidewalk gave me the same look the dog had.

We walked in to the vet’s office, into the usual cacophony of nervous owners and nervous pets and classical music playing loudly to remind us all to relax. Please. Just relax. This annoyed the cat.


All the humans stopped talking. The animals shut up and looked at one another in terror. The Wagner playing seemed a childish imitation of force of darkness and evil dwelling inside my crate. My demonic imp and I tiptoed up to the counter; the others parted to let us pass. I smiled at the receptionist in what I hoped was a gargle-negating way.

I began, “This-“


I thunked the side of the cage with my hand and began again.



I screamed in a ladylike way, “THIS IS LULABELLE, SHE NEEDS SHOTS.”

I then smiled primly.


The woman typed in her first and last name while also covering her ears. She frowned and said, “But-“



“THAT’S IMPOSSIBLE,” I shrieked over Lulabelle’s hellish rantings, “HERE’S THE NOTE YOU SENT ME.”

The woman took the card and read it and handed it back to me.




I thought over the gargling. I swore over the gargling. I believe I made a Pekinese cry.


Blogger Claire said...

Oh god, that is too funny. I think I just woke the neighbors laughing. Good luck with your free time (and your book)! (I finally delurked, so hello as well!)

8:16 PM  
Anonymous bethany actually said...

Oh, geez. I'm laughing so hard I'm crying and my own cat is giving me funny looks. WHEW!

As a Navy family that has always owned one or two cats, we've traveled across the country with our felines numerous times. We've had a few moments where we were ready to drop them off at the next truck stop, but overall we've been very fortunate that our cats have been pretty good travelers.

9:08 PM  
Anonymous Jeff said...

Commenter Jeff here, first off very flattered you thought of me and Tango the kitty, thank you. Second you don’t understand how timely you were. We are moving permanently to the weekend place next weekend and leaving behind many amenities of NYC, one being his cat only vet. My cat is on a special diet for a urinary tract problem common in male cats and purchasing this diet is a nightmare because it is only by prescription. Calling around to see if it is in stock always receives the answer. "It's only by prescription." Which I already knew and was not my question thank you. But I found a rogue vet that always has it in stock and says to hell with the prescription. So we have had a bit of a Dr. Feelgood for this food and now we need to actually go and have it prescribed for him which will, sadly for him mean a trip to a new vet upstate in two weeks. We’re gathering our rosebuds can by can from the NYC vet but I am still forcing myself to get him in quickly before we have any shortage. I’m sure he needs shots too. I’ll start clipping his nails this morning and hope for at least temporary deafness.

4:14 AM  
Anonymous --Deb said...

Oh God, I was not expecting that punch line... (chortle).

8:36 AM  
Anonymous Moose said...

I would have joined the sobbing Pekinese at that point. I admire your fortitude.

9:44 AM  
Blogger Michaél said...

Oh, the joy of being overprepared!!! This reminds me of a cousin who, after an entire day of drinking a gallon of what she likened to nuclear waste in preparation for her colonscopy, arrived at the doctor's office for the test only to be told, "You're a day early. Your appointment is not until tomorrow."

I do believe she has yet to go back.

Thank you for the laughs...can't wait for the book.



1:02 PM  
Blogger cndymkr / jean said...

I'm not sure which one of you has my sympathies.

7:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i do believe you may be my sister-from-another-mister! we have idenitical demonic felines- except that ours is declawed on the front (at a considerable discount from our vet, who was tired of losing small chunks of hand every time josie got shots).

at the last vet's visit, she got loose in the room and they used a wild animal snare to retrieve her. folks round there draw straws every time we hit the door to see who has to hold 'josie, kitty of rage'. declawed and all.

7:05 AM  
Blogger jessica said...

Oh my... what a day! Sorry you had to endure it, but I did enjoy reading about it! ha!

8:44 AM  
Blogger Chatty said...

Ohhhhh. I feel for you! This reminds me of a devil cat I once looked after for a week (NOT that Lulabelle is by any means a devil cat, except when travelling, or at the vet, or out of her comfort zone, of course...)Anyway, I had offered to pet-sit for my friends, who were going on vacation. At the time, they had two dogs and a cat. The dogs were wonderful – a charming, stately airedale and a sweet, kindly black poodle mix. The cat, however, was a demon on assignment from one of the rougher neighborhoods in Hades. He was coal black except for one white whisker. My friends had acquired him as a kitten shortly before their marriage. As they were leaving the pet store with the kitty nestled on Mrs. S’s shoulder, Mr. S swears the kitten drew himself up to glare back at Mr. S. as if to say “Back off, dude – she’s MINE now.” Or words to that effect. And it was true. He was a mama’s boy from day one. And ONLY a mama’s boy. He tolerated Mr. S but anyone else, not so much. He once went from a seated position 5 feet away to flying 5 feet upward and forward to bite a woman in the butt, all in one smooth, continuous movement. In fact, the cat was the reason I was pet-sitting – every single kennel in the area (and it was a big area) had cordially requested that he never return. Seriously – he was blacklisted! The last time he had been boarded, he had screamed and howled the entire week, and wouldn’t let anyone near his cage. When a good friend of Mr. and Mrs. S ill-advisedly went to pick him up in anticipation of their homecoming, the cat ripped his arm to shreds when he tried to get him out of the cage. “Mommy” was the only one who could do that. When told that I was to pet-sit, the friend muttered that he hoped my health insurance was paid up. It was a nightmarish week. I swear the cat tried to smother me while I slept - I woke up unable to breathe, because he was draped across my neck. After that, I slept with one eye open.

1:09 AM  
Blogger Judy said...

After all that, you did take her somewhere lovely for lunch, didn't you?

5:02 PM  
Blogger Paige said...

Hi Quinn--congrats on birthing the book! Cannot wait to read it. Maybe, in honor of me and commenter Jeff, you'll have to bring your book tour to upstate NY--I can organize a great event for you here! And Jeff, if you read this, I also live upstate and have a great vet...if you're in Columbia County, email me and I'll fill you in!

5:19 AM  
Blogger tenacious knitter said...

I laughed hysterically but had to do it silently in my quiet office - it hurts!

So funny - I didn't see that punch line coming either. For five minutes in my car, my cat does the howl and then ends in a gurgle signaling vomit and poo. Then all I get is sorrowful moaning. I guess I should be thankful!

Honestly, I feel for you. I have a vet reminder on my kitchen counter that I look at every day.

10:42 AM  
Blogger Lene Andersen said...

That made me laugh so hard I cried. Repeatedly. Thank you so much.

10:26 AM  
Anonymous Chris said...

Too funny....I needed that pick me up. My cat is a screamer as well. Funny thing is, when I get to the vet, getting out of the crate is nothing short of lifting the crate up on end and shaking furiously....hahaa..lol...thanks again!

1:17 PM  

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