So we have stray cats. Quite a few. I guess around eight or so. Over the past year, I’ve been getting them “fixed”, a few at a time, every few months, attempting to get ahead of the reproduction curve. Our local spay/neuter clinic had a special on for January - $20 neutering - fantabulous. I made my appointment, and the big day was this morning. The two male cats, both around a year old, had no idea of the great day in store for them.
The black cat, “LBC” (Little Black Cat), stayed indoors last night and was none the wiser when I picked him up this morning from in front of the fireplace and plopped him in the pet carrier. “Uh…what’s going on…” his eyes seemed to say.
The orange cat, “Thing One”, was outside waiting for food. Hey…here’s an idea Thing One, instead of eating kibble this morning, let’s go get your berries snipped! Being one year old, not wise to the world (and - being a cat), he had no frame of reference (do any of us??), so he was all in. Plop - Thing One goes into pet carrier number two. I sensed a tinge of regret at that moment from Thing One. Perhaps, he thought, this wasn’t such a grand idea.
I grab my coffee, and head out the door, warm up the car, and then bring the pet carriers out and place them in the car. Both cats are audibly upset at this second new development. In an effort to make them feel better, I unwisely stack the pet carriers one on top of the other in the passenger seat, facing me, so that I can talk to them and perhaps make them feel better on the twenty minute drive to the clinic. But really, what can I say?
“Oh…I’m sure it sounds worse than it is…”
“Well, in a couple days…you won’t even remember they were there…”
So instead of talking, I play some Korn. Well, I don’t know if it was Korn, or the highway noise, or just the drama of it all, about ten minutes into the drive, LBC, who is in the top carrier, decides to pee in the carrier. Now, I would not have been immediately aware of this, except for what happens when you get a cat’s paw wet. The carrier is a typical plastic pet carrier with a plastic bottom. Well, all of the urine pooled on the low side of the carrier, and LBC’s paws were standing in the pee pool. If you’ve ever watched a cat get his paws wet, you know they lift them up, and shake them as fast as Micheal J. Fox and Janet Reno doing the quick-step. The result? A fine mist of cat urine spraying out of the holes and front gate of the pet carrier - hitting me in the head, face, and entire right side of my body. So that’s how I learned that he peed.
So now I’m going 70 miles an hour down the interstate, watching in horror as the low side corner of the carrier is starting to fill with yellow cat urine as it trickles down the floor of the carrier. In a matter of seconds, it is brimming at the edge, threatening to spill over into the seat below, my console, and probably all over Thing One, who is squalling at the top of his lungs in the pet carrier below, no doubt concerned for manifold reasons, not the least of which is his impending testicle removal and/or the topping of the urine containment levy above his head.
I’m hitting the Exit 321 merge just as all this is unfolding, an area that can be sort of busy with cars and trucks changing lanes at rush hour. So I’m driving with my knee, reaching over with my left hand to tilt the carrier in an attempt to level it so that I have no “deep end of the urine pool” while simultaneously getting sprayed with urine coming off LBC’s paws that are vibrating like a cicada, and with my other hand I’m grabbing a work t-shirt to stuff in the opening to try to sop up the urine.
To a person witnessing this from a passing car, it must have looked like I was having a seizure. No doubt the grimace on my face from the smell of cat urine didn’t help.
I get the carrier front door open and stuff my shirt in, pushing LBC further back into the carrier. The last thing I need is a freaked out stray cat jumping out of the carrier with urine soaked paws and tearing around the car at this moment. Maybe at a red light or something, but not at 70 miles an hour. It was tempting to open a window, aim the door of the carrier at it, and let fate make the decision, but that was just a fleeting thought.
So I jam LBC back in the carrier and my white t-shirt quickly turns yellow with cat urine. I’m still holding the top of the carrier with my left hand to keep it level, twisted around in my seat, driving with my left knee, and rapidly wiping the bottom of the carrier with my right hand. Meanwhile, cars are going 40 mph in the right lane, and 80 mph in the left lane, and I’m in the center lane dealing with this Bellagio dancing fountain of cat urine. How could a cat have sooooo much pee in him? His name is "L"BC - as in, “Little”. He must be all bladder.
I make it through the merge zone, get over in the right lane, put the soaking wet t-shirt on the floor (thank God for Weather Tech mats), and soon reach my exit.
The clinic opens at 8am, but there are already people in line. I take my two cats, make my way in, and I can practically see the green bubble of cat urine stench that envelopes me like a shield from Endor. It’s in my hair, my face, my jacket. The lobby of the spay/neuter clinic is tiny, and there are probably eight people in line, with their carriers, looking far less harried, and smelling far better (and this is Gastonia, so that’s actually amazing). I smile, and go the route of explaining to the people in line that HE (pointing to LBC), peed in his cat carrier, and it isn’t ME that peed my pants, and THAT is what they smell. Everyone smiles encouragingly, and, as if I were Moses, take a few steps back to really let the airflow circulate.
After ten minutes, it’s my turn at the desk. LBC and Thing Two are in their carriers on the floor next to the check in desk, still squalling as if they were about to get their balls removed. Oh, well, yeah. So I’m finishing up the paperwork at the desk with the receptionist when a huge orange and black striped cat jumps up on the counter and saunters over to me. He is a rescue cat that lives at the clinic. He must weigh twenty pounds. He walks up to me, sniffing. And for a brief moment, I recall the words of the awesome comedian John Mulaney and think, “Well, this might as well happen…” and figure the cat is probably going to try to pee on me to contest my LBC brand musk.
That did not happen. But it probably should have. Clinic Cat took a few whiffs, jumped down, and went to check out the two maniacally screaming cats on the floor. I finish paying, and walk out the door, no doubt to the great relief of all those remaining in line…my urine stench cloud trailing along behind me like Pigpen from the Peanuts comic strip.
I get in my car, wipe down as much as I can, roll the windows down on this 25 degree morning, and drive home with all the windows down and the sunroof open. It’s freezing, I’m running the heat full blast, but hoping the car will get aired out. As I pull onto the highway, I get up to around 65 miles an hour, and suddenly, the Sunday newspaper, which is sitting in the back seat, explodes from the swirling wind in the car as if an IED were under it. I mean…it wasn’t just some ruffling and a page or two tearing free, it was as if it were a dying sun that decided to go supernova in a split second. The headlines, inserts, fliers, and the comics go flying around the inside of my car like an instant F5 tornado has struck. A few pages escape through the sunroof and get pinned to the racks above my car, some go out the side windows. The local section flies by my face and I catch a glimpse of a typical Gastonia headline: “Gaston Man Faults Ebola in Fallout Over Woman’s Shoes”. This county is awesome.
I quickly roll up the windows, glance in my rear view mirror to see if I’m about to get pulled by a trooper for littering (again, “This might as well happen…”)…but to my great relief, there are no blue lights trailing me. I arrive home, stinky, already exhausted for my day, park the car, and leave the windows down. As I walk up the steps…who is there to great me? Four more unfixed cats. They are hungry.