Published in the Rains County Leader on July 30, 2019:
Kitty is not a celebrity who seeks the spotlight. She is more like Greta Garbo, the Swedish-American movie star of the 1920’s and 30’s who is famous for the line, I want to be alone. Unlike some family pets who never meet a stranger, Kitty hides under the bed when visitors come, and even though she tries to sneak outside occasionally, she seems to prefer watching life go by from behind a pane of glass. However, the rules and regulations of society don’t favor the sensitivities of the recluse, and this week she had to go out into the world.
When she makes it outside, Kitty seems to be a prime target for fleas and other insects that make a furry feline itch. Even when she stays indoors, the pests seem to make it inside, possibly hitching a ride on jeans or shoes. Regardless of how they get there, Kitty is very aware of their presence, and so are we when she chooses to scratch in the middle of the bed at 3:00 am or when she evicts the little varmints into the couch or the carpet.
Thankfully, veterinary science has found a solution. Flea protection has progressed from the old-fashioned flea collar to a small tube of liquid that, when applied four times a year, ensures a scratch-free environment. This convenient remedy comes at a cost, though.
First, it’s quite expensive, but pet owners spare no expense when it comes to their fur babies. Second, it’s not easy to apply, at least on Kitty. The instructions say to part the hair and apply the solution directly to the skin. Good luck with that when the subject cat has extremely thick fur and won’t sit still long enough for their people to reach the skin. And third, the flea protection is only available by prescription, and the law requires the vet to see the patient at least once a year.
David mentioned recently that it was time to renew Kitty’s defense, so last week we dropped by the vet’s office. Apparently it had been over a year since she had visited this particular clinic because David came back empty handed. Kitty has had her annual shots at the Sulpher Springs clinic, but they don’t dispense this particular medicine. So we went home and began the ordeal of transporting Kitty.
David retrieved the pet carrier from the shed and set it on the floor with the door open. Cats are naturally curious, so she will sometimes walk in on her own. Not this time. He tried to tempt her with treats, but she saw right through him and ran off. He threw up his hands in defeat, so I went to the refrigerator for some milk. She always comes running for milk. However, before I opened the carton, she reappeared and walked into the carrier. A girl just likes to do things on her own schedule sometimes.
We made it to the vet’s office with no further problems and were ushered immediately into an examining room. David set Kitty’s carrier on the floor, and we waited a long while – at least it seemed long to Kitty who was trapped in a box. She pressed her face against the air holes on the side close to me and let out a plaintive meow. She’s not usually very vocal, but when she speaks, she’s very expressive.
I squatted down and put two fingers through the mesh, expecting her to express her feelings with teeth and claws. Instead, she pushed her face against my fingers and let me do the unthinkable – scratch under her chin. After being sufficiently reassured, she retired to the towel she had wadded up in the back. When the vet finally came in, I thought we were going to have to tip the carrier and pour her out, but her curiosity again got the better of her, and she came out.
The examination was superficial – taking her weight and temperature. She continued to behave well, and we were soon on our way. I stopped at the reception desk to pay, and David set Kitty down in the lobby to take advantage of another minute or two of air conditioning.
While I fished for my credit card, I heard a voice say, “Is that Kitty?” One of the ladies from my book club – and a City Girl reader – was standing at the lobby counter.
“Yes,” I answered. “That’s her.” We chatted until my credit card receipt was ready. I could see her out of the corner of my eye as she leaned down and talked to Kitty. On Saturday, we sat next to each other at the book club meeting, and I asked how Kitty had reacted to her visit.
“Oh, she was just like you describe her,” she answered. “She came closer to the door of the cage, but not too close, and she stared at me as if to say, ‘Who are you and why are you looking at me?’”
Apparently Kitty wasn’t impressed at being approached by a fan. In fact, she wasn’t impressed with the whole afternoon. Back at home she wanted nothing to do with having flea medication applied to the back of her neck, and she couldn’t decide whether she wanted anything to do with us. She alternated between rubbing against our ankles for attention and jumping out from a hiding place and biting those same ankles. I guess that kind of temperamental behavior is to be expected from a star who has spent her day dealing with her adoring public.