Two Sleepy People
(And One Wide-Awake Cat)
by Lorna M. Kaine
Cats are not dumb animals. They listen in to phone conversations, they read calendars. They will even snoop in your mailbox. Avoiding a trip to the vet is kittens' play to them. All a cat has to do is find a brand new hiding place. Humans, being creatures of habit, will look for the cat in the places he normally hangs out. As soon as the cat hears the phone call to the vet canceling the appointment, he will magically appear from his latest secret hiding place.
Having been the victim of our cat, Ninja's, superior intellect a few times, I quickly hid the reminder from the vet which came in the mail. Before I called for an appointment, I put the cat out. Something new had been added to the vet's services since my last appointment. He now had what were euphemistically called "evening appointments".
"Fine," I said to the girl. "How about seven or eight o'clock?"
"Evening appointments don't start till ten o'clock," she said, her voice icy. "The next vacancy is eleven o'clock tonight."
Before I said no, I called to my husband, Gene. "Do you want to take the cat to the vet at eleven o'clock tonight?"
The dirty rat said, "Yeah, might as well get it over with."
"That's past my bedtime," I protested. "I turn into a pumpkin before then."
"That's okay, you can sleep late."
I returned to the telephone. "We'll be there at eleven," I said.
The cat, having read the calendar, knowing that his immunizations were due, disappeared for the remainder of the day. However, he thought it was safe to come in for supper. After which, thinking the vet's office was closed for the day, he crawled beneath the coffee table for his evening nap.
At ten forty-five, Ninja blissfully chased mice in his dreams. At ten forty-five and one second, I approached, holding his collar. He awoke and shot across the living room like a bottle rocket. Gene cornered him in the kitchen. Once we had outfitted the cat with his traveling clothes – a collar and leash – Gene handed him to me and went to get the car.
Ninja is a Russian Blue stray. He thinks he is Russian royalty. This is good because he feels it is beneath him to use his claws in any sort of combat. His eyes were full of disgust and fear, but he accepted the inevitable and didn't try to escape. We arrived at the vet's office promptly at eleven o'clock.
The place was bedlam. All sorts of emergencies arrived, from a pet rat with a hole in its stomach to a puppy with bleeding ears. Ninja sat on my lap, his ears laid back, eyes wide open, taking it all in. As usual when I take him there, passers-by remarked on his good looks. After a while I could see his ego was bolstered by the compliments. He relaxed, his ears came forward, he even purred a bit.
Time was passing, however. I looked at my watch, eleven-thirty. I glanced at Gene. His eyes were closed. Mr. "you can sleep late" was asleep. Eleven forty-five, a diabetic cat wrapped in a blanket was rushed into the examining room. Ninja eyed a Sharpei being led through the office. The dog paid no attention to him, but his owner, a young woman, asked if she might pet the "pretty kitty." Ninja, who hates to be touched by strangers, said nothing as she patted his head, but I could feel him tremble.
Finally, at midnight, we were admitted to the examining room. The vet read over Ninja's chart. "What's wrong with him?"
"Nothing," we said. "He's here for his shots."
The doc breathed a sigh of relief. "Thank heavens, a healthy animal." Still there were things to be done, a search for ear mites, a black-light scan of the cat's coat for signs of a fungus infection, and a check of his teeth. Finally the injections were given and Ninja was officially healthy for another year. At the last moment, the vet checked Ninja's record for his age. "Hmm," he said, "better give him some vitamins." So one more injection into the cat's hip.
By the time we paid the bill, I was so sleepy all I could see were a pair of sulfurous eyes in the cat's grey face. Gene, operating on some type of sonar, barely missed the door frame as he walked out.
It was one o'clock in the morning when we arrived home. Ninja's vitamins had kicked in. He frisked out of the car and disappeared into the night. Gene and I stumbled off to bed. As usual I awoke before six o'clock next morning. I opened the kitchen door to let in the cat. He was in fine fettle, purring like a chain saw. I fed him and, unable to stand his cheerful demeanor, dangled his collar in front of him. I opened the door and watched the furry bottle rocket disappear into the shrubbery.
I thought about looking for my newspaper, a morning ritual that involves searching through an azalea thicket and inspecting my neighbors’ drives. Instead I looked toward the eastern sky to see a waning moon, Venus and Jupiter all in a row. This was enough of a heavenly omen for me. I crawled back to bed to await a more auspicious awakening to my morning.