In February 2003, I adopted JoJo at 11 months old back in Liverpool, NY (a “suburb” of Syracuse). I’d been in the cat room (mostly free-roaming, except those with special needs) twice before and never saw her. She was hiding those times. Third time in there, I walked in and was instantly greeted by the big ol’ Siamese who was as friendly as a Golden Retriever puppy, only not as bouncy. He already had at least 5 potential adopters, but he laid on the charm as if it was his last day on earth. Come to think of it, he may have been my inspiration for Milo in my Library Cat Chronicles series. He was a lover.
Then I saw this scrawny little orange fuzzball on a perch around my shoulder height. To make a long story short, when I got distracted from petting her and turned away, I felt a paw on my shoulder, turned to look and saw this pitiful little orange and white face doing the whole RCA dog head cocked to one side look at me. I was adopted. I may have paid her fee and paid for all the supplies over the years, but she chose me, paws down.
Since that day, we’ve moved to Chicago (three different apartments), and then to Portland (two apartments). She got an adopted brother (Jack) who developed Acute Renal Failure in 2010, right after my birthday, and I made the choice to have him put to sleep, as I couldn’t guarantee a good quality of life for him. He was 6 months younger than JoJo. A few weeks later, on October 30th, I brought Portia home. A 4-5 years old, sassy, not-too-bright but sweet as apple pie dilute tortoiseshell long hair. She’s now roughly 11 years old.
Now, about those carriers. I grew up with outdoor cats. My parents (I think my mom’s doing more than my dad’s, even though she said it was his rule) didn’t DO indoor pets. When we did haul a cat to the vet, we had those cardboard carriers. All I ever really knew.
Her first time to the vet, a few days after adoption, ended up with chasing her through every room in the townhouse I lived in, several attempts at getting her IN the cardboard carrier, and me, bloodied from Bast knows how many scratches all over my body. Including one from when she clawed her way over my shoulder to escape (successfully for that round) and one of her back claws dug into the front of my left shoulder and ran straight down on the diagonal between my boobs and stopping under my right one. I was wearing a tanktop. To this day, that tanktop STILL has the claw hole. I’m amazed I don’t have a scar. Eventually, I got her in the carrier, me out of breath, her blessed little indoor-feral* heart racing, and was at least half an hour late to the vet appt. But we survived.
The next day, I went shopping for a plastic carrier.
She hasn’t had to go to the vet as much as Jack did. But when she did go (or when moving), the carrier was her arch-nemesis. The tricks I learned over time:
- wrap feline in towel or blanket to contain the claws
- tip carrier on back end
- put feline into carrier tail-first
- Use Feliway if at all possible
- Do. Not. Panic.
Now, that last one… unless the trip is an emergency (injured and bleeding, etc), get the carrier out well beforehand. Let it sit, gate open, where they can check it out. I got the carrier out of it’s hiding place last night and set it up near the front door and the bathroom (where the gigantic litter box is. Actually, it’s one of those under-the-bed storage boxes w/o the lid. When you have two slightly larger than average cats, normal LB’s don’t work well). Stay calm, be cool. Cats can sense mood changes. If you are worried or panicking, trust me, they CAN and WILL sense it.
We’ve had many rounds of cramming her into carriers. At one point, the small carriers weren’t good for her as she was overweight at 17, nearing 18, pounds. Fitting her into a small cat carrier was no easy feat. I eventually got an early model pet stroller, but it was clunky and you had to remove the carrier part to collapse the frame. I junked the carrier part months ago. I still have the frame and will be setting the plastic carrier (larger than the others, which are in storage and I can’t get to them) on the mesh base of the frame so that carrying her isn’t as awkward. The vet is a block away. The e-vet, in case of very bad news, is about 8 blocks in the other direction.
I’m hoping for good, manageable news. I’m not ready to say goodbye to my soul-kitty yet. I’ll update here and on FB when we get back. She’s going in at 3 Pacific time.
* She was 11 months, but had spent 5 of those six months in a public cat room with about 40 other cats, most of them bigger than her. She was scrawny because she got bullied away from the food bowl. She was spooked by humans and it took me a year to get her to sit on my lap for more than 5 seconds without bolting. I don’t know what her first 6 months were like, but she chose me, and I’m the only human she fully trusts.