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Sunday, November 27, 2011



Talking with my friend Carole on the phone yesterday morning, I was mentioning Caterpillar's big knot of hair under her tail. It has been a problem for her in the litter box. I was thinking it needs done now, not tomorrow. This was Friday morning. Last day of the week. We got off the phone, I put a pillow in the cat carrier, then picked up Caterpillar to put her in the box. She wasn't going in. She made certain I understood I could not force her inside the box. I never, ever have handled her with force, hands that say I am taking charge of you. I made the mistake of not telling her we would be going to the doctor's office to get that knot of hair taken off her backside. She would have been ok with that. She wouldn't like it, but she has enough experience to know she comes back from the doctor better than she went in. I wasn't thinking and did it the old way, the way I had to do when the cats were younger and could run outside and disappear or hide in some place in the house. If I even pictured in my mind the vet's office, they were gone. At vet time, I had to pick one up by surprise and pop it in the box. They've never liked it. I don't like it either, but when we're out in the network of human society with cars and pavement and unfamiliar territory, a cat belongs secure in a cat carrier.

The moment I stuffed Caterpillar in far enough that I could get the door closed, she started howling. Howling as only Caterpillar can howl. It was a child's temper tantrum. Every breath she made a cat howl, rou-urr, two syllables, sometimes three when she was so frustrated she had to add emphasis. All the way to the vet, at 20 minute drive, Caterpillar howled. I could not comfort her by singing to her. I'd rub her nose, and that settled her for a short time. By the time we made it to the parking lot she'd wound down a little bit and wasn't doing it so relentlessly. I opened her door and pulled the cage out and she started again, louder that ever. She was mad and she was telling the world. I opened the door and carried her in howling and everyone's head jerked around. A woman at the counter said, "That cat is mad." Caterpillar's howling was so exaggerated it was comic, except it made all of us feel for her frustration. She meant business and and there was no two ways about it. She wanted out of that box.

Dr Michelle Tompkins was the one who would do the operation. I told her Caterpillar is not a biter and I'd hold her while she did whatever she did. Caterpillar doesn't like hands back there. I know she won't bite me, and I believed she would be more comfortable with her friend of her whole life she lived with holding her than a stranger. Michelle and I both were surprised at how Caterpillar calmed right down when I put her on the stainless steel table on her belly. I wondered if she'd go bananas over the electric clippers back there, but she seemed to understand what we were doing there, what was happening. She never made another fuss. It took 5 minutes, start to finish. Once she saw what we were doing there, she was happy with it. She made no fuss all the way home. I let her out of the cage in the house and she disappeared. She stayed in a hiding place all day and into the night. She might have been glad to be rid of that knot of hair, but she wasn't happy with me. I acted like we didn't know each other, when we do know each other. I overpowered her with my human will, which I don't like to do. I'd forgotten she's 14 1/2 and doesn't have a lot of resistance in her. I just overwhelmed her without explaining anything and tossed her in a box when she thought she was getting picked up to be held. I pissed her off by bypassing our closeness. We do communicate, and I acted like we don't.

Today she came out and sat on my lap while I watched a documentary about Andy Warhol. I'd picked up a tube of the one-spot flea eradication at the vet's office. I have always had to put it on in the past by surprise. While she was relaxed, I played with the fur on the back of her neck, separating it to get to the skin, then dabbed the tube on her and she acted like nothing happened. Caterpillar has become more vocal now that it's just the two of us. I talk to her in words and she has taken to vocalizing to me in cat language. She'll use her voice to get my attention, something she never did before. I read her tone of voice and she reads my tone of voice. We use eyes too when we talk. It's been 2 years of just us. We've learned from each other how to communicate, and we do pretty well now. When we don't, it's my lapse, not hers. She always took the back seat where my attention was concerned when Tapo and TarBaby were with us. Caterpillar let them get the attention and stayed to herself much of the time. 

Caterpillar was beginning to smell. When I estimated how much more she would smell if I waited all weekend to take her to the vet Monday, it needed doing today. I feel a great deal of love taking one of my friends to the doctor, Twin Oaks Vet has never let me down. I've always had the confidence they could help my friends and they always have. I felt almost as good taking Caterpillar home as I have an idea she felt knowing that knot of fur is gone from her rear end. She didn't know what to do about it, and now it's no longer an issue. That tantrum she threw was the most she has ever vocalized her displeasure. Though I felt for her frustration, I couldn't do anything about it. This is how we go to the doctor with cats. Once she got the picture where she was, I opened the door and spoke to her, asking her to come on out. I spoke to her like I do at home. Before picking her up, I asked if I could pick her up. She stopped and waited for me to lift her. I could talk to her and she responded casually. It seemed like when she saw where she was, she calmed down. She never made another fuss. But she was happy to get home.


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