The Vet Trek

Cat carrier

Who hates going to the vet more – my cats or me?

It’s a toss-up, literally and figuratively. My three cats suffer terror for about an hour during the hunt and toss into carrier phase, the yowling drive there, the visit indignities (being pried or dumped out of carriers and having orifices probed), then the howling return drive. Once we are home, they are upset for another few hours, hissing at each other and growling at me. By the end of the day, all is forgiven and forgotten.

I don’t enjoy any of this either, but I am more upset before than during. In fact, I start worrying the night before as I carefully bring out the carriers and line them up on my office floor. What if I can’t catch them all? What if one of them runs and hides in a place where I can’t reach (like under my bed)? What if one of them bites or scratches me and I die of an infection? Why don’t I have a boyfriend or husband right now? Why the hell did I get three cats?

A few years ago I was taking care of an outdoor cat I had to take to the vet for a fight wound. Even with a neighbor’s help, I couldn’t hold Buster firmly enough to stuff him into the carrier. He was a sweet cat who belonged the neighborhood but there was no way he was going to endure being taken away. I was already running late for the appointment and finally called in desperation. The vet tech suggested we descend on poor Buster with a large towel or blanket. “That will calm him down.” It worked but I’m not sure I could have done it alone and poor Buster was suffocating in that writhing mass of blanket.

So, for my three, Dewey, Lily and Zoe, this would be my last choice. I reviewed some advice online. I was a little out of practice, since I hadn’t taken the cats to the vet in two years (I moved and put off finding a new vet). Keep carriers on firm surface, such as table, grab reluctant cat by scruff of neck. Oh yes, I remembered those worked. One article suggested “training” our cats to trust the carriers with a series of exercises (cat toys in carriers, moving them closer, etc.). This requires leaving the three carriers out permanently and a LOT of time. No thanks! I have a small apartment and hate clutter. By the time I finished all these steps, it would be time to go to the vet again! And while I have a friend whose cat loves to travel with her, I’m not planning any road trips soon, or even day trips, that include Dewey, Lily and Zoe, as much as I love their company.

Dewey, Lily, Zoe
Unsuspecting slumber — the calm before the storm

On The Morning, I decided to start with Dewey, the biggest, strongest and most frightened of my cats. Even though he is now 10 and very affectionate with me and his sisters, he runs from everyone else and hates to be picked up. When I adopted him at the age of two months, they told me at the Humane Society he’d been found abandoned and alone on a sidewalk; I guess that memory has never completely left him. I considered packing him up last, but was afraid the commotion of seeing his sisters carried off would totally freak him out.

I had to sneak up on him in his closet sleeping space, pretend to pet him and before I could hesitate (she who hesitates is scratched), grab the scruff of his neck with one hand and his 17-pound body with the other. Ran to the carrier on the dining table, pushed him in and zipped it up. Phew! I felt like a scorpion pouncing on my prey.

Six-year-old sisters Lily and Zoe are also large (17 and 15 pounds), but mellower and easy to pick up. Lily has even gone into the carrier on the floor by herself. Not this time, of course, especially with Dewey hissing. In the time it took me to chase and capture Lily, Zoe hid. My worst nightmare.

When I made the appointment, I said I would like to bring the cats separately (or two together and one alone). However, they prefer seeing pets together – and offer a good discount. Guess I’ll miss out on the discount I’m thinking as I search. Finally found her behind a chest in my closet and like a mother lifting a car off her kid, I called on my super-human strength to pull the chest and grab that little brat.

From there it was down the elevator, one wobbly carrier at a time, to my garage, hoping the manager would not see me, because she thinks I have two cats. But despite the wailing chorus, no one in the apartment building seemed to notice or care. If they did see me, they were probably glad it was me and not them.

The vet techs helped me carry the cats in and the friendly vet, a big man with a big house and six cats and seven dogs, said my three feline friends were healthy. Good teeth, no fleas. Yeah! Good for another year.


The Smart Phone Dumb Ass Dance

Pay Attention
Viral Pirate, March 28, 2016

Are we like frogs in boiling water? Adjusting to increasing discomfort until it’s too late to hop out?

Most of us by now are used to cell phone conversations invading our ear space. I may not LIKE overhearing detailed medical or romantic problems while standing in line at the grocery store or even while sauntering down the sidewalk, but I am no longer as uncomfortable as I was a few years ago. I’ve gotten used to it. Is this a good thing or not? Are cell phones turning us into blabbing idiots and giving us cancer? Maybe we are already brain wave scrambled.

I confess I answer phone calls in public sometimes too, but because I am quiet by nature, I try to sneak into an unoccupied nook (not a bathroom stall, I learned the hard way) and keep my voice down.

Now what is taking me by increasingly unpleasant surprise is the cell-phone shuffle, the zigzagging around those walking, noses into texts and Facebook on their phones, totally unaware of surroundings. Which includes me and hundreds of others.

I think it’s getting worse. In fact, almost every time I go somewhere now, I have to maneuver around several people with their heads down, headed straight for me or stopped right in the line of traffic or a doorway. All ages and types too, teenagers, businessmen and women, families, seniors. The ones who scare me the most are the young parents with strollers. It’s hard enough getting around them when they are not on phones, but when they are, they are like rogue missiles.

And even when I am being watchful, amping up my vigilance and doing this dance, there are surprises. The other night at the movies a woman slammed into me from BEHIND. We were less than 30 seconds from filing out after the movie and she was already checking for messages, in the middle of a moving mob. To her credit, she did apologize. The implications of this are scary. What if we were escaping a fire? Would she still be reading texts? Frankly, if she stopped, she’d be trampled and deserve it. However those around her would not deserve to have their buns toasted.

We’ve been warned about the dangers of texting and driving and it’s even illegal in some states. Maybe it’s time we thought more about the dangers of texting and walking, which are actually greater? Many studies point to an increase in pedestrian injuries and death due to cell phone use (talking and texting).

Here in San Diego last Christmas, a young man plunged 60 feet to his death off our oceanfront cliffs while using his phone. A few months earlier a texting teenager was killed stepping off a curb into a truck. In Florida a woman walked into a train but survived, getting clipped. She was fortunate. Others have hurt or killed themselves by falling off platforms, or into manholes and fountains.

Some cities are putting “bumpers” around lampposts. School and colleges are hanging signs in stairways reminding students to look up. Apple is working on making screens transparent so we can see ahead of us while looking at the phone.

All these could be helpful, but they don’t really solve the problem of not paying attention, of being considerate of those around us. Why should it be something we adjust to? Is it time to hop out of the hot pot while we still can?


Lantanas. For Orlando

LantanaThey bloom every day ’til they die, year round, a good 10 years. They grow fast too.

Every lantana flower head looks like a little bouquet. They smile in single colors (yellow, orange, pink, cream) or in combinations (magenta and yellow, purple and yellow, orange and yellow). One multi-colored variation called Carnival includes blossoms that are pink, red, lavender and yellow – all in one little bouquet.

Lantanas thrive here in our beach climate and I pass them every morning spilling from front yards onto the sidewalk. Time to buy one of my own and nestle it into my balcony garden. It’s crowded now, since I potted a jasmine, but there’s always room for one more flower, especially a happy one that will keep the color coming, even if times are not happy.

Lantanas are a tropical and subtropical plant that arrived here from Central and South America and are popular in the warmer coastal regions of the world. They like sun and don’t need a lot of water. Because they grow so quickly, they are considered invasive when they take over open areas, as in Australia. LantanaThe flowers are poisonous to animals and can harm livestock. In gardens, they attract birds and butterflies.

Since I don’t have cattle grazing on my balcony, and my cats show no interest, I will focus on the birds and the butterflies. And how the lantana flower heads remind me of all occasions requiring bouquets.

Dances, graduations, weddings. Weddings across all ages and colors and genders. Celebrating the beauty of each individual and also the blending to create a whole. Saluting the welcoming, the bringing together, of divergent ideas to make us all stronger. The carnival of life for laughter and tears. Funerals, memorials, for those who sang and danced and are now gone but will not be forgotten.

In addition to Carnival, lantanas bloom in other varieties. Confetti. Pink Frolic. Radiation. Sunburst. Spreading Sunshine. Spreading Sunset.