Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Cat wrangling 101

In my defense, I had a plan. It was a good plan. It was a well thought out plan. I had rehearsed the plan in my mind. I had set up every aspect of this plan to ensure success. I was confident that it would be executed smoothly and without undue angst to any of the parties involved.

It didn’t work.

Not only didn’t it work, it failed on a level of spectacularity that defies words. I am happy about two things. Number one, I did not get hurt. Number two, there were no witnesses. This was the sort of thing that makes the Farmer shake his head and walk away, then later, give me The Look when I try to talk about it.

Anyone who has tried to put a cat somewhere the cat does not want to go will understand.

The plan was to scoop up Wild this morning, stick her in a crate and take her to the vet to be spayed. Next week I would repeat the plan and take Bonus, the big gray tomcat, to the vet to be neutered. That would ensure the cat population on our farm was safely removed from the reproducing gene pool.

I think things started to go wrong about six months ago when I named her Wild.

Wild is essentially wild. She is a little yellow tiger striped cat with big yellow eyes and bobcat tufts of fur on the tips of her ears. She was born on our farm last spring and gradually moved from the outbuildings into the garage/machine shed where I feed the rest of the cats.

Wild and I had advanced our relationship to the point where I could pet her, providing she was distracted with a bowl of food and providing I didn’t get too familiar. Petting was restricted to happy cat butt scratches and fondling of her neck and ears. It was all good. There was no holding, cuddling or other manipulation of said cat. We existed in a contented plane of existence where we both knew our roles.

Then I decided she needed to be spayed. This is a non-negotiable issue. I don’t want multiple litters of feral kittens every year. I formed a simple plan. I’d pet her while she was eating, then quick as a flash I’d scoop her up, toss her in the little Vari-Kennel I use for transporting cats to and from the vet and we’d head on down the road. No prob. What could go wrong?

It wasn't my first day at the rodeo. I was prepared. I had the crate sitting nearby, door open. (This was extremely optimistic because as it turned out, it really didn’t matter if the door was open, closed or missing.) I was wearing heavy gloves and my Nanook of the North parka, A) because it was -4 degrees and B) to ensure protection of vital organs. Looking back, I think if I’d been wearing my Carhartt coveralls and the Farmer’s welding gauntlets and helmet things might have gone a little better. Chain mail would have been my second choice.

I called the cats. I poured their food in the pan. I waited until Wild was settling into her meal. I stroked her back. She arched up under my hand. I scratched her ears. She leaned companionably into my fingers. I gripped the scruff of her neck, scooped my other hand under her tummy and lifted, confident I could transport a smallish cat the distance of perhaps two feet without anything going wrong.

Wild begged to differ.

Did you know cats are capable of turning from solid to liquid? I think I should be awarded a Nobel Prize for my work in the field of this new  scientific principle.

The first hint that I was in trouble was the subtle shifting under my hands when Wild changed from a five-pound relatively domesticated farm cat to five-pounds of hissing, yowling, fur-covered demon spawn. How many toes does a normal cat have? Four on each paw? And one claw per toe? That adds up to 487 razor sharp claws slicing and digging at any available surface. There were claws embedded in the leg of my jeans and the arm of my coat. There were claws whizzing through the air near my face. I realized that my scruff-and-scoop plan might have been a tad optimistic. I realized the only part of this situation that I actually controlled was the two square inches of fur I was gripping  on the back of her neck. I realized this was not going to end well.

Wild transformed into her liquified cat state and in doing so, grew at least two more legs and 63 more claws. She found more places to embed the claws that weren’t spinning like ninja blades of death past my head. The volume of angry demon spawn squalling issuing forth from this small creature was startling. I don’t know if bodily fluids were leaking out of her but it was a distinct possibility they were going to leak out of me. I was afraid of what would happen if I turned her loose. I was afraid of what would happen if I didn’t.

In the end, Wild resolved the issue by slithering out of what I had thought was a death grip on her scruff. She bolted into the depths of the machine shed. Her yowls and my swearing echoed in the silence. A few tufts of fur drifted down on the cold morning air.

Bonus, the big gray tomcat, looked at me. I looked at him. I picked him up. I put him in the crate. I shut the door.

After all, I had an appointment at the vet’s office to get a cat altered. Darned if I wasn’t going to produce a cat.


  1. LOL, you poor thing. You may need to ask the vet to borrow their metal trap for catching critters. Thats the only way we've been able to catch some what feral cats. Sometimes I would have to let out a neighbors cat that I didnt mean I didnt mean to catch. We some how got our feral cat into a crate because we wanted it to get a rabies shot. Well remember Chavy Chase's Christmas Vacation , where the cat was in the box and it was shaking his arm all over the place? And there his hissing and screaming. That was us waiting in line to get a rabie's shot at one of the mobile clinic. LOL

  2. Some years ago I left town for several weeks and the neighborhood feral cat had her kittens in my garage. By the time I returned they were six weeks old and my too-earnest crazy cat lady neighbor had been feeding them every day. I wanted to call animal control. My neighbor lady had a meltdown. The compromise: we catch the kittens ourselves and THEN call animal control. There were five kittens. Catching them took one hour per kitten and we never did catch their mother. Kittens were hissing at me from the bottom of a 400-size Varikennel tipped on its end so they couldn't climb out (kitten claws have no purchase on fiberglass). Animal control officer was impressed. She offered me a job. I declined. :)

  3. I could read your writing all day.