Tag Archives: cats


24 Apr
2013-04-10 14.16.59

The Classic Lion Cut

I used to hate cats. It wasn’t so much a hatred as a deep fear. Being in the same room with one would give me anxiety. If one walked on me or touched me, I could feel my heart pounding in my chest. Everything about them freaked me out, from their long, curling claws to their rubber-band like skeletons.

Then, during a particularly rough time in my life, I met these kittens. They were so helpless and adorable. We kept them at the clinic for a couple of months, as I watched them grow from innocent kittens to adorable, gentle cats. It somehow helped me break through the fear. I still didn’t LOVE cats, but I was no longer panic stricken by being around them.

My boss sat me down a couple of months ago for my performance review, it was a rave review…except for one little thing. Cats. I don’t handle them well. As a vet tech, my greatest struggle is dealing with cats. I believe that there are two types of people in the world. Dog people and cat people. I don’t know whether it’s nature or nuture or divine providence, but everyone has a preference, whether slight or definitive. I will always sway towards dogs. Two of my co-workers (a vet and a fellow vet tech) are both avid cat people and are consistently trying to change my mind, to teach me to love cats. Their guidance has helped me a lot in learning what to look for in an angry cat (tail flicks, low ears) and how to coax a cat into calming down. I’ve become my clinic’s resident expert on the lion cut (see picture) where I shave matted cats. I love doing it. Something extremely satisfying about getting those matts off and exposing the skin beneath. I can entertain my inner perfectionist and spend long periods of time getting the shave perfectly even, leaving a poof tail and “Ugg” boots.

But on the other end of the co-worker spectrum is Darryl, who shares my history of cat fear. Every cat he sees, he eyes sideways, mumbling to himself, “I don’t trust him.” He uses a harsh scruff to restrain, and there are usually beads of sweat dripping down his brow by the end of the exam. My cat-loving co-workers tell me not to listen to him, less restraint is better. But somewhere deep inside of me, I don’t trust any of those cats either.

I’ve worked hard to suppress my inner-Darryl and have even recently gotten a pat on the back from my boss for handing what we call a “cat rodeo.” This is when a cat loses its shit at some point in the exam. As a technician, the only thing to do is hold on to that scruff and ride it out. Grab a towel with the other hand, grab a knock-down box with the other hand, but above all don’t let go of that scruff. Because once that cat is out of the staff’s hands and on the ground, it becomes nearly impossible to get them back into a safe restraint.

So last week, I’m holding a fat orange cat named Mama Rose for Dr. L. The cat was calm and didn’t seem bothered. I even was teasing her, calling her “a whole lotta woman.” Perhaps my fat joke went too far, because the cat spontaneously lost it. No warning, just decided to fling her body off the examination table. I lunge for her scruff, trying to stop her. But because she’s fat and had a jump start on me, my grip is weak. She flips herself in the air, contorts her body around, and slashes my hand and wrist. Dr. L in the meantime had grabbed a towel to wrangle the cat.

I yell a couple of expletives and feel searing pain in my hand. There’s blood dripping down my wrist from those cuts, but it is nothing compared to the pain I’m experiencing in my hand. I can’t feel my pinkie or ring finger, and the gash into the meat of my hand goes deep. I rinse it under cold water and try to calm myself down.

“That’s not enough, Chris,” Dr S says, pulling me toward the surgical, scrub sink. “Those wounds in the thick of your hand are the worst and will get infected.” He hands me the rough bristled brush that the doctors use to scrub in for surgery. “You need to scrub it with this for at least 10 minutes. And you need to make it bleed.”

I can’t tell you how difficult it is to roughly scrub an already painful, open wound. But I did, and I watched the blood ooze from my hand. I opened the wound wider, to expose the torn layers of flesh. Digging deeper in there to pull out any remnant of cat germs.

And now I’m back on the Darryl train of thought. Never trust a cat.

My two days of cat ownership

26 Nov

imageI went back to Nevada to visit my parents for a quick spell, and while I was away, one of my roommates agreed to cat sit. I was informed of this via text and didn’t think much of it. I returned to New York the evening of Thanksgiving, exhausted from the eight hour journey across the United States. I heard my roommate knock on my door, and I begrudgingly opened it to see her standing there, holding a cat. She introduced us as the cat leaped from her arms and ran under my bed. I was tired and did not want to deal with this furry creature.

For some reason, this cat would not leave my side. When I went into the kitchen, he followed me. When I put moisturizer on in front of my mirror, he likewise stood in front of the mirror gazing at his reflection. When I studied a bit on my computer, he walked back and forth over my hands, meowing for attention. And when I snuggled in my bed to watch Ru Paul’s Drag Race, he curled up next to me and purred.

So this is what cat ownership is like? In the last couple of years, I have desperately wanted a furry friend of my own. Ideally, I’d like to own a dog, but I know that I do not have the time or the resources to own one. For meager city-living, cats are really the ideal pet. As long as you leave them food and a litter box, they’ll generally take care of themselves. And oh, how I’ve craved one. It was a blissful two days with Kitty. I’d come home from work, and he’d run out from under the couch and begin following me everywhere I want. Sure, he wreaked some havoc by knocking all of my picture frames off their shelf and clawing at my scarves, but overall, it was so nice to have someone to come home to who wanted nothing more than to follow me around and do whatever I wanted.

On Saturday night, I didn’t have any plans, so I bought a bunch of ingredients to make some homemade soup and planned on watching a movie. Kitty and I. I imagined him nuzzling my ankles whilst I stirred, sitting on my lap while I picked out the movie on Netflix. But, alas, as soon as I walked in the door, I saw his litter box and carrier were gone. I was kitty-less once again. I so desperately wish I could adopt a kitty, but my landlord doesn’t allow them. My apartment feels so incomplete without one.

Eat, Pray, Poop

3 Sep



Rusty Thomas

I don’t really have a good excuse for why I haven’t posted in so long, but I do have excuses. I’ve been working 50+ hours a week. I’ve been traveling to the beach. I’ve been playing soccer. I’ve had some time-consuming summer romances. I applied to post-bac pre-med programs (fingers crossed, fingers crossed!). I’ve read some good books (Cheryl Strayed is my hero). The memory card on my phone is corrupted, and it makes taking pictures extremely difficult. So when I finally put myself in front of my laptop to write a little something, my browser magically opens to Netflix, and I find myself drifting to sleep while watching either “Law and Order” or “Intervention.”

Like I said, no good excuses.

I will say, though, that I have written a number of posts in my head, taken a number of pictures for said posts (that become corrupted, damn you technology) but it just never made it on here. So I’m sorry. That’s that.

This post I’ve been thinking about for a week, when this cat came in. Rusty Thomas. I’m completely a dog person, but this cat stole my heart. He really is a special animal. All owners say that when they bring their pets in, but Rusty Thomas, he’s…different.

He came in as a new patient, he hadn’t eaten for a couple of days. We ran a bevy of tests on him, but nothing obvious seemed to be wrong. So our new doctor, Dr. L, admitted him for observation.

It turns out that the woman who brought him in, Iris, is actually the owner’s aunt. The owner of the cat is a teenage girl whose father died two years ago. Before he passed away, he gave his daughter this cat. Iris told us that they could not lose the cat. It would be too much loss for the family to take. We had to save Rusty Thomas.

Iris is an eccentric woman, and at first, we all thought of her as a high-maintenance client. She brought in toys and blankets for Rusty T to have during his hospital stay, but she also brought a boombox with a Meditation CD. She claimed that while she did yoga and meditated, Rusty T would likewise meditate, and she requested that we play it for him.

Rusty Thomas continued to not eat. So, we were forced to insert a feeding tube into his esophagus, and four times a day, we make a paste like food and insert it slowly through his feeding tube. During this time, I like to take him out of his cage and place him on the main treatment table. He’s a good cat that just sits there while I prepare his feeding. I turn on the meditation tape, and we listen to a rather monotone woman talk about breathing, about letting go of thoughts and emotions. Rusty sits still, purring away, staring off into the distance. Our feeding time together is so peaceful.

He quickly became a joke around the office. Some started referring to him as the “yoga cat,” and Dr. S will holler with pent-up rage if he hears the meditation tape playing.

“If I have to hear that woman’s voice one more time, I’m going to break that boombox!” he’ll bellow. If anyone needs to get in touch with the Buddha, it’s that man.

But with all that mocking, this cat has had a noticeable effect on the office. Last Wednesday, I was doing his feeding, listening to the tape. The woman was telling us to breathe deeply, to focus on the breath, to feel the breath. I looked up to see everyone in the room quiet, not just quiet, but they were all breathing deeply, all in sync with each other and with the meditative instructions of the woman. The only sound was the rumbling purr of Rusty Thomas.

So we found a way to feed the cat, the only problem now was that he wasn’t pooping. We were waiting until he had a nice BM before we sent him home. At last, it came. And you have never seen a group of people happier about a cat pooping than our office on that day. He could go home to his new-age family that loved him.

He was discharged yesterday afternoon, but I fed him in the morning. It was 8:30AM, and the office was quiet. I was exhausted from working so much the last week. Since I was alone, I told Rusty Thomas how much I was going to miss him, and how happy I was that he was finally pooping. That fat cat curled up into my arms while I pushed a slurry of cat food into his tube. I put my head against his back and listened to the motorcycle-like thrum of purring. We breathed in and out together.

Oh, Rusty Thomas, I hope everything works out well for you in Yonkers. Namaste.