Vet day for Mooch is always a production. It comes only once a year and we missed it last year, mostly out of fear. Mine. I know that is not a good reason for a responsible cat owner but last time we went, there was bloodshed. Mine, again.
Mooch arrived on our back porch eight years ago. Our house backed a huge wetlands and strays often found their way to our back porch. My husband swears I had a huge visible-to-cats-only neon sign on our upper deck encouraging all strays, ferals and even locals to come on down for free eats.
Not true, but during the five years we lived in that house, I did make friends with, neuter/spay, get vaccinated, and find homes for nine strays. Then came Mooch.
He was about two years old when he first started sneaking onto the porch to eat cat kibble. Then he began hanging around more and more, sleeping on the cat’s outside climber at night and napping on a bench in the sun during the day. I loved him — he was a good sized tuxedo cat with perfectly symmetrical markings and a little black Poirot mustache. We named him Mooch for the cat in the Mutts comic strip.
|MUTTS by Patrick McDonnell | March 14, 2012|
After about a year of me cooing at him and feeding him, he began to use the cat’s window to come inside for food (cautiously passing as we sat silently on the couch). I stopped feeding him outside, thus encouraging him to venture inside. By now he was part of the family, following behind as we took the cats on walks along the edge of the wetlands to the beach.
It was clear we weren’t going to be finding him a new home and it was just as clear that I was not going to let him go. So, about two years after his arrival, my husband and I trapped him in the house, cornered him in the bathroom and caught him. Well, my husband did, while I stood behind him saying, “Don’t hurt him, don’t hurt him!”
Once in the carrier he was docile, probably just scared and resigned. We took him to our vet where he was checked over, given his shots, and spent the night to be chipped and neutered. The next day we released him on the back porch and I assumed we’d never see him again.
That night he was back in time for dinner and he’s been around ever since. He continued to come and go as before, always showing up for meals and even becoming a bit more comfortable around us. The only caveat was that I not get any closer to him than about two feet unless I had a treat, which I was allowed to hold out for him to sniff but then had to drop before he’d eat it. The cats and I loved him. My husband was a little less enamored; he doesn’t see the attraction of a cat he can’t touch. And the feeling was mutual — Mooch doesn’t like giants with heavy shoes.
Two years ago we moved from that house and his wetland home and by then he was coming and going quite frequently through the cat window even occasionally napping inside. He was sort of tamed (I use the word very loosely since we were still not touching him) and I knew we couldn’t leave him behind.
Here comes the blood shed, so cover your eyes. We timed his annual vet visit with our move. The plan was to capture him, see the vet and then drive on to the new house which was only an hour away. My husband was away and since Mooch is closer to me anyway, it fell to me to capture him.
I was feeling pretty confident, thinking that by now he might not freak out when I tried to touch him. Wrong. I grabbed him at the nape of the neck and he jerked his head around. He shredded me. I had slices up and down my arms and all over my hands. In the process of getting him into the cage (I was determined not to leave him behind.), I spread my blood all over the wall, carpet and clothes and Mooch was totally traumatized. Silly me. I hadn’t covered my arms and hands (and eyes!) in preparation and I’d also assumed Mooch might come quietly.
Well, again, once in the cage he was docile. I bandaged myself as best I could and we went to the vet. They brought an army of techs into the room with us once they saw my wounds, but Mooch was very quiet so the army left and the exam went well. He moved with us as planned and has adjusted rather well given that he doesn’t have his wetlands to run in anymore. He’s quite the house cat, comes when he’s called, and even sleeps on the bed with us now and then.
But I still can’t touch him.
And, today’s the annual visit to the vet … in 80 minutes. I’ve got him confined to the living room, I’m wearing two layers on my arms and I’ve got glasses on. He’s pacing likely because he’s picked up my anxiousness and that of my older cat who sees the carrier and FREAKS.
I’m dreading this. So is he. 79 minutes.
Update: We’re home, it’s over and the only wound is my right thumb which Mooch managed to bite almost all the way through, twice. And, as usual, he was totally quiet once in the cage and while at the vet. Clean bill of health, all his inoculations, home again and hiding.
I’m already dreading next year. Let’s see 365 days times 60 minutes times 24 hours = 525,600 minutes and counting. My thumb should be healed by then.