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November 5th, 2006

I took a day off on Friday, to run errands and write. This involved two visits to the vet, for check ups.

The dog was easy. The dog is always easy. He is a golden retriever. He likes the car, the ride, the people and the attention. He doesn’t hold it against them that they have given him shots, baths, boarding, and major surgery. He doesn’t take any of this personally and lopes through life, thinking every moment will bring a dog treat and a belly rub.

The cat is another matter.

Fluffer is my husband’s cat. It doesn’t matter how many times he insists that he is a dog person. He has a cat, until Fluffer decides otherwise.

We live in the country, and Fluffer came to us as an abandoned house pet, the kitty equivalent of nine months pregnant. I was talking to someone while standing in out driveway, and looking out over our hill, where half a dozen chipmunks were popping their heads out of holes in the ground like a live action game of whack-a-mole. And I said, “I wish we had a cat to take care of this…”

And Fluffer stepped out from behind an outbuilding and said, “C’est Moi!” Even as a stray, she was a beauty. Big green eyes, long gray hair, dainty movements, except for the waddle in her walk from imminent kittens.

She followed me to the house.

I got a bowl of milk and a can of tuna.

Around mouthfulls of food, she explained, in a serious of indignant meows, that there had been a terrible injustice done. That she’d screwed up once. Just once. And this was how the word treated her.

I explained the job description.

She finished off the tuna, then killed a chipmunk and ate it.
And then she killed another one, said, “I really shouldn’t. But I’m eating for five.” And ate that too.

She allowed my sons, ages 3 and 5, to pick her up and carry her around without so much as a twitch. She allowed the dog to give her a complete sniffing, although the look on her face clearly said she’d do it for us but she didn’t have to like it. She had a sweet and agreeable nature, almost doglike in her willingness to please.

So we had a cat.

After she had the kittens and we found them homes, and she’d been fixed to prevent any further kittens, we allowed her to transition from barn cat to house cat.

She stepped across the threshold and instantly became Bette Davis in a gray fur coat. “God, what a dump.” She walked straight to the dog dish and began eating his food. The next year we got a second cat, a feral Tom that Fluffer beat up on a regular basis. She gave up mousing, preferring to steal kills from the other cat. She will catch the occasional, little gray house mouse; bring it into the living room to show how attractively it matches her fur; and then release it live so we can all enjoy it.

This is not mousing. It is showing off.

For a brief time, we had a third cat, but I swear Fluffer hated him so much she scared him into the path of an oncoming truck. She denies everything, of course. But I’m sure that, though she spends a fair amount of time laying on a step half way down, and swearing at me as I try to step over her, the day I’m found dead at the foot of the stairs, she’ll have an iron-clad alibi.

Because she only likes men. My husband in particular.

So I took her to the vet, Friday. I scooped her up, off the pile of clean laundry where she was sleeping, and transported her, wrapped in a towel.

She moaned the whole way there, and refused to leave the towel after we got to the vet, preferring to lay on the examining table like a terry cloth eggroll. Still moaning. The vet and tech came in, and examined her without any problems. But when they were done, she stood up on her hind legs, put her paws on my shoulder, laid her head against my neck, and wept.

“You hairy, liar,” I said.

She climbed up on my shoulder and wrapped herself around my throat like I was the last lifeboat on the Titanic.

“This is not my cat. This cat hates me. Really.”

The vet and tech were looking at me like I was crazy. They were both male.
For female vets, this cat is 12 pounds of razor clawed, needle toothed, slobbering hell.
But for men?
I think she was auditioning for a Disney movie.