Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Confession #5: I Kidnapped Ronald Weasley

I never took him across state lines, though. And really, I feel there was no wrong-doing on my part.

However, there does seem to be some disagreement regarding the exact circumstances.

I'll let you decide. 

My Version:

Last summer, my sister and her family went on a longish road trip and asked me to watch their pets. A dog, Dixie, who later became known only as "Idiot", and a cat, Ronald Weasley, who happens to be Severus's littermate. Having mooched resided in their basement rent-free for several months the year before, I owed them big-time. So I said no problem.

I stopped by their house a few hours after they had left to pick up the animals and add two more to the zoo at home. 

Ronald is not what you would call a good traveler. Every time Ronald gets into the car, terrible things happen. Terrible, terrible things. My sister told me to give Ronald some Benedryl.  I got a little plate and dumped some Fancy Feast onto it and shoved the pill into the middle. Normally, it would have been gone in seconds. Ronald refused to even sniff it. Now I'd have to get a little hands on. I've found butter helps pills slide down cat gullets a little easier. So, I buttered it up, held Ronald, and then I don't really remember what happened next. I didn't know where the pill went. I just knew where it wasn't. So, we drove off undrugged. Terrible, terrible things occurred.

When we pulled into the garage, I decided to re-introduce Dixie and Charlie before taking care of Ronald and his terribleness. Things went pretty well between Dixie, Charlie, and my cats. I brought Ronald in and set his carrier down on the floor and left to prepare a nice, relaxing bath. However, Ronald didn't seem to enjoy it at all. Some cats just don't appreciate amenities.

Shortly after Ronald's bath, the dogs had to go outside. After a few minutes, Dixie slipped out of his collar and proceeded to run down the sidewalk. Being an intelligent dog owner, I knew not to chase him or yell at him, but to try and catch his attention by making him think I'm doing something much more fun and interesting. And it was working. He came right up to me and I got his collar on and then, out of the blue, he had a major freak out. He started biting and scratching and peed all over  himself.......and me. That was the point at which he became "Idiot." So, two more baths were in order. 

The rest of the week and a half went much more smoothly. There was much hissing between the cats, but otherwise peaceful. With one exception. Mrs. Weasley was still just a lil thing and super playful. Her favorite game was "Sneak Attack!" She's a wee ginger ninja. And her favorite target became Ronald. Probably because of his extreme over-reaction. He's kind of a drama queen. He would jump about a foot in the air, and then get this look of hurt outrage while shouting, "Why????????????? WHY would you DO such a thing???? To ME????"

Oh, and there was the nightly mrowing outside my door. But living with Myrtle, one learns to sleep through that kind of thing.

Dixie Idiot developed a seriously annoying attachment to me. I guess peeing all over someone creates a deep feeling of adoration and adulation. The feeling was NOT mutual. 

All in all, I was very happy to return my sister's fur family at the end of their trip. And let them deal with Ronald's terrible, terrible travel aftermath. Life with a dog, a cat, a cat, a cat, a cat, a cat, and an idiot, was a bit much, even for me.

Ronald's Version (as transcribed from what he apparently thought was his video blog):

It is day 346 of my captivity. Or maybe it has only been an hour. I just don't even know. Because I am a cat. What I do know is a lady that sometimes comes over, came over. My People were not there to protect me. I now hate my People. This lady attempted to drug me. But I foiled her attempt. Twice. I am not Dog. You cannot trick me with your pills stuffed in Fancy Feast or butter. I hope my People slip on the buttered pill that I regurgitated on the floor...and die. Alas, my captor overpowered me and stuffed me into a small portable jail cell. Dog trotted along and hopped in the vehicle. Dog is an idiot.

As my captor drove off with us, I tried to soften her heart by singing the song of my people. It is a mournful dirge of 97 verses. She was unmoved. Enraged, I loosed many scathing epithets....and then....my bowels. I thought she would stop and then I would make my escape. She did not stop. My only consolation is that I made the remainder of the journey quite unpleasant for her. Dog did nothing but gaze eagerly out the window. Dog is an idiot.

We drove into a dark cavern. I was left alone for a moment as my captor took Dog somewhere. Then I felt myself being moved. I smelled much danger. She set me down. Immediately I felt a surge of hope. Ones like me surrounded my cell- surely to rescue me?

No, no. Fate is a cruel mistress. The Others hissed in mockery. Taunting. Baiting. I hate the Others. To make things worse, after the Others left Big Dog came sniffing around. But then, mercifully, my captor lifted me away. Little did I know she was about to subject me to an unspeakable hell.

Bath time.

I cannot describe the indignities. Suffice it to say, my suffering was great.

The next few hours or days or years are a blur. My captor has allowed me to wander the house...a false freedom...what with Big Dog and the Others constantly hunting me. The worst of them all is the smallest one, who, ironically, is a facsimile of myself during kittenhood. She is most vicious, employing guerrilla tactics and inducing near heart attacks at regular intervals. I continue to suffer most grievously.

One unexpected high point was when Dog showed surprising resourcefulness when he attempted an escape and viciously attacked our captor. Within hours, however, Dog succumbed to extreme Stockholm syndrome and now slavishly follows our captor about. Dog is an idiot.

I have nearly given up hope of being rescued and resign myself to a life of captivity for now. I while away the long hours of daylight hiding from my tormentors. The time is not wasted, though. I have composed a ballad of my suffering. Each night I pace the corridor of my captor's bedchamber and sing my lament.

Oh cat gods of Felinia, hear my plea!!! May my lament travel upon the Zephyr winds and reach the ears of my People.

They must save me. They must. They can leave Dog. Dog is an idiot.

It will be a joyous reunion. I shall ignore them for a while, to impress upon them my intense displeasure. But being a feline of generous nature, above pettiness, I shall, after a time, bestow upon them my forgiveness. In the form of a deceased bird. And there shall be much rejoicing and rubbing of ankles.

Now I must go. My captor is returning. She must not find me here.

If you are watching this, contact the authorities. Save me.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Confession #4: I Said Some Swears At Motel 666

After Myrtle's morning round of Ultimate Hide-and-Seek, we quickly made for the Iowa border on Day Three of our journey. Charlie had fun pretending he was Big Dog on the Prairie.

The cats were quiet again. I started listening to Harry Potter on CD. The cats loved it. Only Myrtle complained. Probably because her name wasn't mentioned as often as the others' were. The day seemed to fly by, and before I knew it, we were in the outskirts of Des Moines. This Motel 6 was pretty fancy-schmancy for a Motel 6. It even had an elevator. But we didn't have to take it. I'd requested a first floor room and we were kitty-corner (ha!) to the lobby. So nice when trying to load/unload so much cargo. But I did get some looks from the desk clerk starting at my third out five trips. After my first night checking in, I learned to say, "Oh, and I have my dog and cats with me." No numbers. Never use numbers.

While I was checking in, there was an elderly couple in front of me. They took a while...they were one of those couples that calls each other "Mother" and "Dad" and they were filling the desk clerk in on their life history. So, I just took a seat, smiled, and enjoyed the show. They were a hoot.

I got checked in and was grabbing Charlie and my bags as they were shuffling back in with their things. The man said, "Hold up just a minute, Mother. I got something for this young lady."

He reached into his pocket and pulled out two shiny pennies with a cross cutout.

"This one's for you, God bless ya. And this one's for your pup dog. Even pup dogs need God's blessings."

I thanked him and they shuffled off to their room and Charlie and I shuffled off to ours. Sweet man. I should have gone back to find him to tell him that my kitten cats need God's blessings, too. Myrtle especially. I'm pretty sure she's renamed herself Myrtle Hellbeast von Satanspawn.

It had been our shortest driving day, but we were all beat and promptly sacked out for a three-hour nap. After we woke up, Charlie and I took a nice, long walk around the surrounding business park. It was another nice, relaxing evening. Not even any attempted great escapes.

In the morning, once again, Myrtle thought it would be fun to defy the odds and find an improbable hiding place. Somehow she found a gap in the platform bed. She must've cased the
joint while Charlie and I took our morning walk. But it was nothing a little muscle and quick reflexes couldn't solve.

Once we were on the road, things went much more smoothly. For a while.

As we crossed into Illinois, we hit road work. Then some more road work. And more. All day long. What was supposed to be a 6-hour drive, became 8-1/2 hours. We must have angered the travel gods. It wasn't bad enough that we kept having to sit through delays...the Harry Potter CD was EATEN by the car!!!!! EATEN!!!!!!!! It's still in there. It was not a magical day. We all just wanted to get to the motel and veg.  When we finally arrived, it turned out to be in the middle of NOWHERE. I pulled in and started getting a very Bates Motel vibe. I didn't get a chance to do a lot of looking around while I was dumping cats and luggage into the room. But I remember my first impression was, "Hey, this is pretty nice!" The room was huge, king bed, sofa and easy chair, fridge and microwave, etc.

Then I turned on the lights.

Are you familiar with this?

Well, Fozzie. I found the sad one. Without cute Muppet vermin.

Holes in the walls and ceiling.  The headboard of the bed was literally hanging by a nail. I had to reattach it a couple times. The bathroom was.....icky.....The carpet was moist. Moist, I tell you. I felt it through my socks. But I was so tired. I figured, I'd just stay in bed and not eat or drink or touch any surfaces whatsoever. However, I was pretty certain that even just breathing in the air I was one mutated motel germ away from becoming Patient Zero of the next world-wide pandemic. Even the cats were grossed out. They stayed off the floor as much as possible.

Severus was not impressed with our accommodations.

I'd just find the nearest gas station first thing in the morning to take care of....the necessities. And then I looked at the pillows. There was a hair on one.

I flipped it over.

There was half a face imprinted on it.

Orange-y foundation, smeared mascara, pink lipstick.

"Oh, Hell no! HELL NO!"

Sorry, Mama. I did. I said it. Real loud, too. I would have left, right then and there. But it was late, and when you're traveling with pets, especially with as many as I had, you don't have the luxury of simply walking in to the first hotel with a vacancy sign. I know I could have requested another pillow, or even another room, but I was afraid of what I would get. And the night manager lady was scary. Like mother of a serial killer scary. I ran out to the car with my body guard, Charlie, and grabbed Charlie's big travel blanket I had cushioning the back seat. I cocooned myself in it, so none of me touched the bedding. I would catch a few hours of sleep and be on my way at the crack of dawn.

Of course it didn't happen that way. The other cats wanted out of Motel 666 almost as much as I did, but Myrtle just had play her little games. When I couldn't find her I first checked behind the tv/chest of drawers console. Nope. Checked behind the couch. Nope. I even tried moving it. It weighed a ton and there was less than an inch between it's bottom and the floor. No way she was there. That left the platform bed. Again. I had known it was inevitable. But it was a king-sized bed. I wanted to be sure I wasn't moving it for nothing.

I moved it for nothing. She wasn't there.

That meant she HAD to be under the couch.


She was IN the couch.

I pulled off the cushions and discovered it was a fold-out bed and started unfolding it.

That cat is the most brilliant, evil, conniving....

 I should have left her at THAT motel. She could be one of those resident cats some places have. To give the place a cozy, homey atmosphere. Myrtle Hellbeast von Satanspawn of Motel 666 will leave the lights on for you.

But, I got her. And we began our fifth and final day of driving. Our new home was just a few hours away.

The drive into Indiana was slow and construction-filled, as well. But better than the previous day. We still had no Harry Potter, but I was able to find a decent radio station and we all sang along. By the time we made it over the Kentucky state line, things were flowing smoothly again. We pulled up to the farm a couple hours later and started a whole new adventure.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Confession #3: I Nearly Left Myrtle At a Motel 6 in Nebraska. On Purpose.

When last we met (refresh your memory here), it was an hour past departure. One cat was on the loose. Three cats were unmedicated. One human was a hot, bloody mess.

Luckily, Severus being a large-ish fellow, was not the master of camouflage he thought he was. Much of him was spilling out of his hiding place and I was able to snag him without much trouble. But putting him in his solo carrier? Suddenly he had eight legs made of unyielding, reinforced steel. I became sweatier and furrier by the second. To make matters worse, World War III had broken out in the large carrier. Stalincat, I mean, Myrtle, was busy establishing a kakistocracy.

By some miraculous feat, I managed to quickly exchange Severus for Myrtle without losing any other cats. Myrtle went into the smaller carrier without too much fuss. But with Severus in there, the large carrier was large no more. So I put together a spare carrier and put Mrs. Weasley in there and left Minerva with Severus. I didn't want to take up more room in the back seat, so I stacked the two smaller carriers on top of one another, strapping them together and securing them with bungees to the headrests in front and behind. Charlie jumped into the back seat and laid down. I pulled out of the garage at 2:00, and started down the road. I was so very impressed with my own cunning and creative problem solving. Don't worry, I got over my ego trip quickly.

Almost immediately the complaining began. But I was expecting that. I could put up with it. For now. What I wasn't expecting was the violent thrashing going on in the second story cat apartment in the back seat.

We made our first stop 5 minutes into the trip. When I pulled over and ran around to the back seat I found Charlie sitting up, his eyebrows doing his "what were you thinking???" dance. Mrs. Weasley was now toppled over in her carrier- right where Charlie's head had been.

So onto Plan........D......or......E.........possibly Z at this point. Poor Charlie had to squish over so that the carriers were side-by-side. But now we were all situated and ready to make some significant headway. We made it an hour and a half. The pitch and volume of the cats' cries had undulated unceasingly. I chose a scenic pullout for our first official stop. Charlie was eager to stretch, but I think I was even more anxious. Besides wanting a break from the cats, my tucchus was KILLING me. I'd fractured my coccyx a few months before, and sitting for more than 30 minutes was insanely uncomfortable. It was a delightful place to stretch out our respective limbs and tucchuses.

We got back into the car and started driving. The feline weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth resumed. Every few minutes a little paw would stretch out, beseechingly patting the empty air. It was truly pathetic. And although Mrs. Weasley was the only one successfully Benedryled, even she let out drowsy mrrrows of displeasure at random intervals- I'm assuming as a sign of cat solidarity. At some point horrible smells began wafting through the holes of the large carrier containing Minerva and Severus. But there was nothing to do but drive on. And on. And on. Until we reached Laramie, Wyoming around 10pm.

I was never so happy to see a Motel 6 in my entire life. I'd booked Motel 6 rooms the whole trip- being cheap and super pet friendly, they were my salvation. They didn't care how many cats I had. The room was decent, as Motel 6 rooms go. It was newly remodeled in the modern style the website had been proudly promoting, wood laminate flooring, fresh paint, etc. It took 5 trips to get everyone and their necessities into the room. I put the carriers in the bathroom and let Charlie hop on the bed.

Then I went back to the bathroom and closed the door to begin the cat extraction. Mrs. Weasley had fared well and happily popped out of the carrier and started to scope out the joint. Myrtle was still voicing her displeasure and slowly, suspiciously edged out, covered in shredded puppy pee pad. But it was dry and clean puppy pee pad. And then..............the large carrier. The one from whence the awful smells had been coming from for most of the drive. It was bad. BAD. B-A-D. Severus had emitted every disgusting thing that a cat could emit. It was emitted all over him. And all over the carrier. And all over his crate mate, poor, poor, poor Minerva. So, cat baths were in order. Amazingly, they were really cooperative and loved getting baths.

I'm lying.

It went as well as cat baths go.

All I wanted was to go to bed and sleep the sleep of the just. But it was not a restful night.

Seriously. It was like being locked in the room with five sugared-up toddlers. The cats were literally bouncing off the walls (and me). Basically, blowing off steam from being in their crates so long. The alternative was to keep them in the bathroom, but they did NOT like that and the acoustics carried the sorrowful song of their people a little too beautifully. Charlie kept yelling at them to knock off all their running and leaping and skidding on the slippery floor. And whenever someone would walk by the room, Charlie would start muttering threats using his James Earl Jones voice.

Incidentally, the Wyoming moon is a beautiful sight to behold. At four a.m. While your dog with the gargantuan bladder pees majestically into the chilly dawn. For nearly ten minutes.

Catching the cats the next morning was another exercise in being sweaty and getting covered in cat hairs and scratches. They are the wiliest, scratchingest, tauntingest SOBs (Superior Overlord Beings). But I got them into their respective carriers by whatever means necessary. They were unhappy, to say the least.

They chose to punish me that day by remaining coldly silent for the entire drive. However, apparently I managed to display a suitable attitude of penitent humility, because they were quite forgiving and friendly once we settled into our hotel in Nebraska. I was hoping I would be able to offend them into silence the next day. It was ever so pleasant driving in the silence.

Charlie- after the initial worry that he was going to be left somewhere and have to Incredible Journey himself back to me- began to thoroughly enjoy our traveling adventure. He developed a passion for rest areas. He found them fascinating and couldn't wait to sightpee (he combined sight seeing with the necessary pit stops- he's a very efficient and practical dog). He also liked the fact that when I ate my packages of peanut butter crackers, he always got the last cracker.
It was a fun day.

That night at the motel was absolutely wonderful, too. We got in around six. Charlie sacked out on the bed right away. No messes in the carriers, the kitties were much more relaxed, and the room had plenty of shelves for the cats to perch on.
Minerva discovered that she could slither up under the bedspread and hide from everyone. It was so relaxing. There was a nice park-like area adjacent to the hotel and I took Charlie to for a longish walk before bed time. The only glitch in the evening was when we got back and Charlie was going into the hotel room, Mrs. Weasley made a break for it. Luckily, the rooms were interior. Unluckily, we were right next to a stairwell and she streaked up the stairs and down the second floor hallway. Luckily, no one caught me making my mad dash up the stairs and down the hallway, hissing cat swears I'd learned from Myrtle. Mrs. W. was hastily scooped up and we returned to our room well-exercised. We all slept soundly, and even got to sleep in a little the next morning.

I should have known things were going FAR too smoothly. I was congratulating myself because there was literally NOWHERE for the kitties to hide in this particular hotel room. It was a nice open room, without nooks or crannies- best of all, the bed was on a platform, so there could be no hiding there.

The first three cats were quite willing to go into their crates- it took me less than a minute. Myrtle, however...

Myrtle. She is the wiliest and most conniving of the cats. She's menace. I should rename her.

 In the 60 seconds I was preoccupied with the other cats, Myrtle found an inch and a half gap in one of the shelving units and slithered into it.

 This picture was taken by sliding my phone down the gap so I could figure out exactly where she was. Look at that SMUG smile. Jerk cat. Apparently, the bottom was just a nice hollow 18" x 24" box. And we all know how cats love boxes. So, she settled in for a nice, long nap. 

But first, she popped up for just a moment to gloat when I called her name. She wasn't in the least concerned.

She calmly, and smugly, lowered herself back down. There she stayed while I contemplated the rather awkward conversation I would soon have to have with hotel management.

"So........funny story........"

Or, I could simply walk away and leave her for the next guest. Everyone loves extra amenities.

But I knew that when Myrtle finally chose to slither out of the woodwork, she would probably cause some sort of coronary episode. I couldn't have that on my conscience.

And, ironically, Myrtle is my favorite. I fearlove her so much.

So, I studied the shelf a little closer. It appeared to be similar to a Sauder bookshelf. Do you know how many of those shoddy things I've put together over the years?

A little further poking and prodding confirmed my suspicions. A well-aimed kick to each corner was enough to loosen the thin backing so I could reach in and snag the closest bit of Myrtle.

She was rather....unhappy.

And so, Day Three began.

Stay tuned for the next post, in which Charlie is blessed by an old man and we have a delightful stay at Motel 666!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Confession #2: Pushing Drugs Ain't Easy.

Remember how I never meant to become a cat lady?

Well, I REALLY never meant to become a cat lady driving a Chevy Malibu nearly 2,000 miles across the country with a dog, a cat, a cat, a cat, and a cat.

When I decided to quit my job of 13 years and move to a farm in the Middle-of-Nowhere, KY, it sounded exciting. A fresh start. New adventures. Endless possibilities.

What I neglected to consider was the actual journey. The actual long, long, looooooooooooooooooong journey.

It hit me about three weeks before the move........how the Hell-o, Dolly was I going to fit the animals, their pet paraphernalia, not to mention my belongings, into my mid-size sedan???

I began to panic.

I went so far as to try to pawn off some of the excess cats on my friends. I sent out desperate Facebook pleas. I got bubkes. I was secretly relieved. I love all the cats. Even Myrtle. But I was still panicked. I researched pet transport services. Insanely expensive for just one cat. When I thought about the cost for all four cats.....I threw up a little in my mouth. It was going to have to be all of us, all together, all the way. I began to spend a significant amount of time throughout the days leading up to the move, standing in the garage staring at my car with all four doors and the trunk open wide. Thinking. Strategizing. Panicking.

Two days before departure, thanks mainly to my sweet Tetris skills, I devised a brilliant mental blueprint to stuff everybody and everything in the car. I would have to leave a few things behind with my brother, but the the essentials would fit. The three small cats would ride up front in the large carrier. Big, fat Severus would curl up solo in a smallish carrier in the backseat, leaving plenty of room for Charlie the Giant Golden Retriever to comfortably stretch out. Everything else would be shoved under the seats and into the trunk.

The plan was to pack everything but the animals the night before and leave by noon the next day.

Of course it didn't happen like that. Nothing EVER goes as planned when you become involved in pushing drugs.

See, besides the logistics of fitting the cats INTO the car there was the matter of what they would do DURING the many hours of driving. Charlie is an angel. He's perfect. He is so patient and easy-going, I had absolutely no worries about traveling with him. But the cats. The cats. When I sold my house, I had a few months before I could head to Kentucky, so my awesome brother let me and the zoo move in for a bit. On the drive to my brother's house the cats HOWLED, SPIT, HISSED, YOWLED, and swore terrible, terrible cat swears. The whole way. All five minutes of it.

This did not bode well for our future travels.

So, courtesy of Google, I did some extensive research on traveling with cats. I also e-mailed my sister, Liz, who's basically an animal expert, for some advice- much of which saved my sanity in the end. I purchased every chew, spray, gel, and contraption labeled "pet calming" or "travel aid." However, after failed trials with most of them and no time to try the rest, I decided to put my trust in good old Benedryl. It was the most widely recommended on all the websites, and I'd had proven success using it with other animals years before. But pills and cats....I was trying to avoid that, if possible.

Back to moving day. I'd emptied the cats' food dishes several hours before, so they'd be traveling on empty stomachs till we reached the hotel for the night. I had lined the cat carriers with puppy pee pads, in case of accidents. The carriers and car were spritzed with calming spray. Now it was time to administer the Benydryl. I found Mrs. W. first, picked her up, popped the pill in her mouth, and stuck her into the large cat carrier before she knew what hit her.

Man, I'm GOOD at this, I thought.

Severus happened to walk by at this point, so I picked him up, and quickly realized I had a problem. He's soooooooooooooooo squishy fat. I had a hard time managing his girth single-handedly, while trying to open his mouth and slip a tiny pink pill into his mouth without him spitting it out. So, I set him on the counter and positioned him with his butt up against my shoulder. Kind of like a gun. A loaded gun. I wrapped my arm around him, with my hand on his chest and cuddled him against my body to restrain him. He was pretty cooperative up to this point. I was being super gentle and speaking soothingly, "Good kitty. That's a goooooood kitty. Just take this pill like a goooooooooooood kitty." Then he began to realize something was going down. He began writhing like an eel. Just as I got his mouth open and the pill in, he gave a mighty heave and tried to lurch from my arms. Apparently, he hadn't swallowed yet, because as I instinctively tightened my grip, he made a pffft-hiss sound and a tiny pink projectile sailed through the air. Like I said. A loaded gun. He hissed again and I let him jump from my arms and run off in righteous indignation. I was left standing there, covered in a thick layer of black cat hair, calling out, pleadingly, "I'm sorry! I had to. I'm sorry!"

Minerva and Myrtle had come in to see what all the fuss was about and to laugh at Severus. I made an executive decision and threw Minerva into the large cat carrier with Mrs. W. I figured she wouldn't be a problem, she's so chill. And, after a startled moment, she settled in with her cat friend and started napping.

Myrtle was a different story, though. She was named Moaning Myrtle for a reason. Her banshee cries reverberate off the walls and can be heard throughout a three-story house. Imagine that sound contained in a car. For 7-8 hours a day. For five days. She was getting that pink pill if it killed me.

"It's your turn, Myrtle."

She raised her catbrows, Yeah, right.

I knew I would have to go about this carefully. Myrtle was a cat from the school of hard knocks. She remembered her time on the streets. Sudden movements or loud noises, and she was a blur around the corner. So, I started my sales pitch. Always start with the sweet talk.

"Myr-tle, Myrrrrrrrr-tle," I began in a sweet, sing-song-y tone. "Who's a sweet kitty, Myrrrrrrrrtle?"

She looked up at me, I am. Duh. She started purring and making circle eights around my ankles to prove it.

"That's right, that's my sweet Myrtle. Let's take some drugs now." I leaned down to scoop her up and she snuggled up against my chest. As I set her on the counter, something in my demeanor, perhaps the determined glint in my eye tipped her off. She stiffened under my hands, This is a trap, isn't it?

If sweet talking doesn't work, appeal to their intelligence.

"I'm afraid it is, Myrtle. You know this is how it has to be. You'll be happier if you sleep through the drive. We'll all be happier."

I don't think so.

When appeals to intelligence fail, it is necessary to-

Shut up.

Five minutes later, I was breathing heavily, covered in sweat (my own), blood (my own), and another layer of fur (Myrtle's). Myrtle sat in a patch of sunshine bathing daintily, as if she had not just reigned unimaginable terror and destruction in the kitchen.

"Fine. You win." I scooped her up and put her into the large cat carrier with the other two. Drug-free.

Nancy Reagan would be so proud of my cat.

Tune in tomorrow to find out how the rest of the trip went. Because, after this amazing start, it could only be rainbows and unicorns the rest of the way, right?

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Confession #1: How I Became a Cat Lady

I didn't mean to become a cat lady.

At least, not until I was well into my 70s or 80s.

But I'm definitely not crazy. Not yet.

Some people think four cats is a lot. But it's not. It's technically not even 'several' or 'many.' If you had four cookies would you say, "I have many cookies" or "I have several cookies"? No, you would say, "I have a few cookies." (Personally, I would probably say, "I don't have ENOUGH cookies.")

See, here are the evidenciary number-to-descriptor standards:

1 = one
2 = a couple
3-4 = a few
5-6 = several
7-8 = many
9-10 = a lot
11+ = many a lots

(Source: Because I Said So)

I'm BARELY even a cat lady. I'm entry-level. Some real cat lady is probably reading this, saying, "Dahling, please....four cats and already calling yourself a Cat Lady? The presumption!"

Anyway, like I said, I never meant to become a cat lady at the tender age of *cough,cough*.

It is a wild tale of coercion, daring rescues, a desperate stow away, and sheer acquisitiveness.

Severus Comes Home
Two years ago, almost to the day, I was simply a lady with a dog. I was living in my sister's basement while I was waiting to close on my first house. One day my sister, Lara, came downstairs. This is how I remember it:

"Mandy! Carl said I can get a kitten! You HAVE to get one, too. Or I'll break all your fingers and toes and then you can never be a famous piano-playing ballerina. As has been your dearest wish since childhood. Get in the car and get a kitten with me, NOW!" So, of course I had to. Right?

Now, if you ask my sister, she'll probably tell you it happened like this:

Lara: "Mandy! Carl said I can get a kitten! You should get one, too!"

Me: "Yeah, I should!"

So I did.

Regardless of which story you choose to believe, the end result was that we both got kittens. Brothers, in fact. And being equally obsessed with Harry Potter, my sister named her ginger cat Ronald Weasley, and I named my black cat, Severus Snape. I momentarily toyed with "Sirius Black" but discarded it as too trite. Plus, even as a kitten, Severus demonstrated an uncannily Snape-ish cat sneer.

Minerva Comes Home
A couple months after Charlie, Severus, and I moved into our spacious new home, I made one fateful decision, uncovered a despicable aspect of humanity, and came face-to-face with some self-truths:

1) I joined the community's Facebook pet page

2) Many people in my very rural, and therefore transient, community (not many could stand the commute to civilization for very long) tended abandon pets rather than take them along or try to find them new homes.

3) I have a bleeding heart, a talent for rationalizing, and a debilitating weakness for kittens.

It was Fall Break and I was spending a delightfully lazy day curled up with Charlie and Severus, reading, watching t.v., and updating my Facebook Status to let the world know I was having a delightfully lazy day curled up with Charlie and Severus, reading and watching t.v. I decided to check out the pet page. I was scrolling through when I came upon a plea for help......and a picture of THE most beautiful kitten I had ever seen.

This lady said a stray kitten had been hanging around their house (one of the first completed homes in a new subdivision under construction). She had taken it in for a couple of days, but couldn't keep it. If no one responded by 3pm, the kitten was going to the pound when she went to run her errands. It was nearly 2:45pm. I looked at Charlie and Severus and said, "I am going to save that cat." They answered by continuing to sleep. I messaged the lady to text me her address and I would be there right away.

I jumped out of bed, threw my hair into a bun, shoved my feet into my slippers, grabbed my keys and the cat carrier and went out the door. By the time I had pulled out of the garage, the lady had texted me directions and I was on my way. I showed up at her door just before 3pm and more or less snatched the cat from her and drove away. The whole way back I rationalized my rashness. There's plenty of room, my house is 24-freakin-hundred square feet. Two cats are just as easy as one. Severus can have a playmate. Everybody needs a gray tabby...

Of course, when it came to naming her, it was a no-brainer. Gray tabby? M on her forehead? So, I introduced Charlie and Severus to their new roommate, Professor Minerva McGonagall.

Myrtle Comes Home
Myrtle's story is, by far, the strangest of tales. It's a Christmas story, too.

December 2012 was one of the most frigid winters I can remember. It was a couple days before Christmas, and I found myself at the InstaCare, horrifically sick. As in, blisters in the back of my throat, both ears infected, and the rest of my body was one giant ache. It was bad. All I could do was stare miserably at the doctor as he wrote out several prescriptions. Then he hugged me and called me Boo. Yes, that happened. He was a cute, little old doctor.

I pulled into the garage 30-minutes later, having skidded and slid my way home on the snowy, icy roads. Then I took my drugs and sacked out. I'm not sure how much later it was when something woke me up. I remember staring blearily up at the ceiling for a few minutes. Then I heard it. Meowing. I looked at Severus. He was nestled against my back, still sleeping. I sat up, listening closely for a few more minutes. Nothing. So, I went back to sleep. I was so sick, and so full of drugs, that I pretty much slept through the rest of the day and night. A few times I thought I heard meowing again, but figured it was a neighbor's cat, and went back to sleep each time.

By the next day, the drugs had kicked in and I was feeling much better and more alert. I was able to sit up and watch t.v. and read for a couple of hours at a time. And I kept hearing a cat meow. My ears were still pretty bad and all sounds were muffled, so I had a hard time telling which direction the meowing was coming from, but I figured it HAD to be the neighbor's cat. And I started thinking, Why don't they let it in?! It's freezing out there! Jerkwads! I decided that if they weren't going to let their cat in, I would bring it in to my house and keep it in the bathroom so it could get warm. So, I peeked out my window to see if it was at their front door. Nope. Then, I went out back, pretending to let Charlie out to pee, and checked their back door. Still no cat. Hmmm...

The rest of the day and evening, I continued to hear the poor kitty, and I shot dirty looks and self-righteous animal rights thoughts toward the neighbors.

On Christmas Eve day, I woke up feeling almost normal and my hearing significantly improved. Almost immediately, I started hearing cat meows again. More like banshee yowls, to be precise. And now I could tell that those yowls were coming from..............my house.

But I still couldn't pinpoint exactly where. The cat would yowl, a long, mournful wail, and then go silent for a while. I looked everywhere in the house. Running here and there each time the yowling began, I became certain I had a cat in the walls or maybe the attic crawl space. I thought, Good heavens, I'm going to have to put a freakin' hole in a wall to pull out this freakin' cat! I actually went around with a broomstick, first bumping the attic crawl space, then tapping walls and putting my ear up against them to listen for the slightest sound. Nothing. At this point, I was now pretty sure the drugs had scrambled my brains and I was having audio hallucinations or my house was haunted by a cat. A very loud cat.

Just when I was about to call someone to come over and see if they could hear this phantom cat, I happened to be walking past my garage door (you have to go through the kitchen to get to the garage) when the yowling began again. It was most definitely coming from the garage. But I had checked the garage, twice. I opened the door and started looking around again. There wasn't much to look at. My car, a couple of shovels, a rake, a couple bags of potting soil, a roll of carpet remnants, and a grill. That was it. NOWHERE for a cat to hide. Now I was seriously perplexed. Throughout the rest of the day, every time I'd hear the yowling, I'd rush over and yank the door open, but I never saw any movement. So, guess how I spent my Christmas Eve?

I propped open the door, placed a can of tuna in the center of the garage, turned on some Christmas music, wrapped myself in a blanket, and sat on my kitchen floor to stake out the garage. Nothing happened for about twenty minutes. Suddenly, there was a quick movement under the car and I saw a yellow flash of glowing eyes. I held my breath and tried to stay as still as possible. Then I saw a nose poke out of the shadows, then a head, then the rest of her was out. And then I did something stupid. I yelled, "You're really real!!!" And she disappeared again. But now that I knew I wasn't stark-raving mad, I shut the door and left her to her tuna. It took me until Christmas night to catch her and finally figure out why I hadn't been able to see her whenever I searched the garage. AND how she got into the garage in the first place.

Flashback to the InstaCare: FYI, there are horse stables just behind the building. With stable cats. Freezing cold day, nice warm engine...

My car: Just behind the engine block there's a small platform. Apparently large enough for a small, determined cat to ride through 12 miles of snowy, icy roads. How she stayed on, heaven only knows.

Given the circumstances, it was only appropriate that she be named Moaning Myrtle.

Mrs. Weasley Comes Home
Don't worry. This one's short. This is where the sheer acquisitiveness comes in.

It had been several months since I had acquired my last feline companion. I figured, three cats in about as many months. That's a little excessive. People must be thinking I'm starting to turn into one of those "crazy cat ladies." Yeah, no more cats. Three is plenty.

And then, in July, I was scrolling through that dangerous Facebook pet page. And another lady was asking for help. Someone to give a little kitten that had been abandoned on her doorstep a home. I looked at the picture and thought,

Everybody needs a ginger cat....