This was my column in this week’s Greenville News.  Here’s the link; the text follows.–The-cats-are-in-the-bag

Have a great day!


The cats are in the bag.  (Open at your own peril!)

Much safer way to have cat in bag

Much safer way to have cat in bag

It began with the fleas.  While we were away on vacation, they attacked the house, took up residence in the carpet and established flea nurseries in our bedrooms.  When we arrived home, our two indoor cats looked at me with pleading eyes and cried with plaintive meows that said, through bouts of intense scratching, ‘you’re the advanced species, do something!’

The first night back from vacation, my nephews Quinn, 12 and Zane, 10 were staying the night.  Zane, ever the master of the concrete, said, ‘Uncle Ed, there are fleas!’  ‘I know Zane, I’m sorry,’  ‘But there are fleas, do you understand?’  ‘Yes Zane, I get it, and I’m sorry.  Disgusted with my inaction, he eventually called his mother at her workplace to complain. Turns out, he was afraid he’d die from ‘The Black Death.’  At one point, with fleas making my white socks dark, I thought he might be correct.  Suffice it to say, someone had to die.  It had to be the fleas.

We engaged in several flea offensives.  We treated the cats, set off several ‘flea bombs,’ the kind of chemical fogger that requires every living thing to leave the house.  By the third round, I felt myself starting to twitch just a little from low-grade chemical exposure.  No success.

Well, mama doesn’t like fleas; or any bugs for that matter.  It reminds me of the enormous spider I had to kill one evening as it ran up our bedroom wall, after jumping from the canopy of our bed.  Never let it be said that a pellet-gun and years of practice don’t come in handy.  That’s all I have to say about that…

But Jan was right.  My patients, frustrated with medical conditions, often say, ‘something has got to be done.’  In this case, that something was Terminix.  God bless those guys, we called them and out they came to launch a nuclear assault on our insect squatters.

However, knowing the chemical massacre to come, I had to get the cats out of the house and board them at the Walhalla Veterinary Clinic.  Years ago, we faced a similar struggle.  I well recall the day I tried to take the cats to the vet for the same reason.  Jan and the kids were away, and it was up to me to put the cats into the cat carrier.  Mind you, these cats, siblings, had never been anywhere but this house (except for a brief overnight escape), since we brought them home from the rescue shelter.

So, when I pulled out the brown, plastic and metal cage and began to insert said cats into said carrier, chaos ensued.  Yes, I tried setting it upright and lowering the cat into the box.  The cat, unknown to me, used rarely seen steel springs in its hind legs, and vaulted out of the carrier.  His sibling spread all four paws out, claws extended, hissing and growling, certain that I was taking him to some nefarious cat-sausage factory.  In the end, I gave up and my wife called me a big baby.

Fast forward to our recent flea debacle, and I recalled that a vet-tech had told me to put the cats in pillow cases.  Jan, knowing my weakness, helped me lower them into the cases.  Cat one, Barbie, went with minimal fuss.  The other, not so much.  I’ll say right now, I’ve watched people put rattlesnakes in bags with less danger to life or limb.  The cat in question, named Socks, tried his best to climb out of the bag, claws and teeth bared.  Think of yourself stuffing a frightened, surprised, angry panther into a sleeping bag.  Down-size it a bit, and you get the picture.  Now, I love these cats, but I had to give Socks one or two revolutions around the ferris-wheel, as it were, just to get him down into the bag so that I could tie it up.

For the next hour, until the vet’s office opened, the cast meowed and scooted across the floor, as if dressed like little ghosts on the hardwood.  They fussed and cried all the way to the office, and I walked through the rain, into the waiting area, with two bags full of flea-ridden, wet cats.

The fleas are gone now; the cats better.  But before I brought them home, I was anticipating their return visit in a couple of weeks.  I asked the vet for a sedative to help the transport.

I hope it doesn’t make me too drowsy to drive.

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