Strange noises were coming from my examination room.
It sounded like pieces of metal being dropped on the floor while someone grunted with exasperation. With my decades of experience,
I knew exactly what was going on.
Iva Skrewloose was trying to take her cat carrier apart before I got into the room. Naturally, she was frustrated. The woman
is known to have mechanical abilities rivaling those of a fruit fly.
I entered the exam room just in time to see both carrier and owner become simultaneously unhinged. Parts of the carrier flew
in all directions. The cat took off for the nearest window sill, and Mrs. Skrewloose flopped into a chair, looking as if she
had just run a marathon.
As my technician came in and we began to examine the now-frightened cat, it became obvious that the fun was not over. Apparently,
Iva thought it would be an excellent time to begin the reassembly process.
So, the clanging, banging and frustration started all over again.
I don't know how I could have forgotten to mention Mrs. Skrewloose in last month's column, in which we documented the methods
our clients use for extracting cats from carriers.
You may recall the top three: Mrs. Tippit, who tilts the carrier a little bit and expects her cat to come sliding out. Mr.
Traction, who pulls on the towel beneath the cat and assumes that his pet will ride out on the "magic carpet." And Mr. Trauma,
the man who turns the carrier on end and shakes until either he or his pet falls unconscious.
Testing other strategies
With that list now complete, it's time to turn our attention to other examples of strange client behavior involving carriers.
Mrs. Bongo heads the list. There is a rhythmic drumming noise that persists throughout all of her visits to our office. Since
she thinks her kitten, Tom-Tom, is afraid to be away from home, she comforts him by whacking the side of the box. Apparently,
she read somewhere that a kitten will perceive the thumping to be its mother's heartbeat and will therefore be comforted.
This is all based on the widely accepted scientific principle known as crapola.
Mrs. Bongo (we call her Mrs. Bonkers when she isn't around) can understand why Tom-Tom looks traumatized in spite of her comforting
Unfortunately, pets are not the only things that show up along with their carriers. In fact, the animal often seems to be
crammed in as an afterthought. The last time that Chuck Full came in with his ferret Whispy, I decided to count the items
that were squeezed in with the little hob.
Not counting Whispy himself, there were two teddy bears, a pillow, two blankets, six stuffed mice and an old sock. At that
point I would hardly have been surprised to find a partridge in a pear tree.
At least Chuck Full doesn't put in messy things like Phil Emup. He seems to live in fear that his cat Jumbo will miss a meal.
The carrier has an open can of mackerel that you can smell from the next room. There are dry food, loose catnip and several
miscellaneous treats all floating around in the water that spilled from the dish on which Jumbo is now sitting. The cat is
a wet mess.
But he still isn't as bad as Mrs. Sticky. She likes to transport her babies on a bedding of cedar chips. By the time they
get to my office, her cats are covered with dusty flecks of wood that wind up all over the room. The last time she came to
see me, both cats had diarrhea. At that point, as you can imagine, they were really living up to their names, Tar and Feathers.
Dr. Obenski owns Allentown Clinic for Cats in Allentown, Pa.