I have a cat. Me and my cat, we have been together a long time. We get along. She’s not a cuddly, sit on your lap cat. She’s more a sit on the floor staring at you and meowing loudly until you start saying “WHAT? WHAT IS IT? Did Timmy fall down the well or are you just hungry?” kind of cat. But we are happy together. She doesn’t want to sit on me, she wants to sit next to me. And she doesn’t want a bite of my chicken, she wants all of my chicken. It works out fine. Well, it works out fine for her.
I know she is getting old and I know that it’s ghoulish but I think quite a bit about her mortality…catality? Whatever. And I know that there will come a time when no one is sitting on the floor staring and meowing loudly and it makes me sad. But I am a realist about these things. I am because having a cat has made me so. No, really, I was set up for my cat’s demise when she was only a wee kitten. And for a long time when I thought about it, it was kind of funny. Maybe not so much anymore…no…it’s still funny.
See, Miss Audrey..what? THAT’S HER NAME. I can call her Audrey but she really prefers you not be so familiar with her. She was a parking lot cat, rescued along with her brother (his name is Atila the Hun and last we heard he lived in Pennsylvania. Having a brother named Atila should give you some idea of Miss Audrey’s personality. She is, after all, named after a Honeymooner, a movie star and a man-eating plant) from some industrial park. I had always wanted a cat but my father claimed to not like the nasty little beasties. He agreed to let Miss Audrey move in with us only if he could refer to her as “the dog” and insisted upon teaching her to bark. He was duly shocked when she did.
OK, anyway, when Miss Audrey first came to live with us, I took her to the vet, as all responsible pet parents should. They told me to bring her back in a few months to have her spayed and when the time came we set of the veterinarians office. She was tucked into her jaunty tan cat carrier and was dropped off with only a few plaintive yowls (from her, not from me). They told me that the surgery itself didn’t take very long but that the recovery could take a bit of time. She would be grumpy from the antastezia and tender from the stitches (turns out the grumpy part was just her natural state of being). The doctor said he would call me later in the day to let me know when I could pick her up.
It was midday when he called and he told me that there had been a little problem with the surgery. I had only had this kitten for a few months but I was firmly attached to her and she seemed to be just as attached to me. The words “little problem” nearly made me swoon. Luckily it wasn’t as bad as all that. Turns out that when they spay a cat, they make a small incision and move the fallopian tubes outside the body. When they had moved Miss Audrey’s, one of them snapped and was pulled back into her body. It sounded gruesome but the end result was only that they had to make a wider incision than normal and that she would be tender from the manhandling. Other than that, she was fine and I could pick her up at the end of the day.
The vet’s office was unusually busy when I arrived. I had paid in advance and only needed to pick the cat up so I stood at the front desk until an assistant could help me. I told her that I was here to pick up my cat, Audrey, and she sent some dude in the back to get her.
After a few minutes wait he showed up with a cardboard box. Since Miss Audrey had arrived in her jaunty tan cat carrier, I assumed this was someone else’s pet. The dude put the box on the counter in front of me and said, “I’m so sorry.” It was only then that I noticed that the cardboard box bore the legend “Kitty Coffin.” (OK I will swear to you that it actually did say “Kitty Coffin” on the side of the box but I could be lying. It definitely said “coffin” though because I knew enough to recoil in horror from a little cardboard box.) I was…I don’t even know what I was. I remember feeling the blood rush from my head and stammering out “But…but…she was only here to get spayed. What happened?” I remember holding on the counter and losing my mind a little bit. The nurse looked at me, looked at the box and said “Oh my god. You got her the wrong cat!”
She apologized. The dude took the kitty coffin into the back room and I sat down to wait. It took a little longer than it should. I wondered if indeed something had gone horribly wrong. Or if maybe they were trying to reanimate my tiny kitten or something awful but in a few minutes the jaunty tan cat carrier arrived with many apologies.
Miss Audrey is fine. She rules the house with an iron paw and has since her kittenhood. But that was a bad day for both of us.