You remember Tubby and Stupid, right?
The long haired Idiot Brothers were ‘free’ kittens. A neighbor gave them to us when we lived in California.
Free cats. One gray, one white. Cute little kittens.
Evil little bastards.
Of course, there’s nothing free about pets, especially cats. Right from the first moment they start costing you money. They need shots, and deworming, and ‘fixing.’ Cats need litter boxes. Yep you get to spend money on dirt for the cat to crap in so you can throw it out and go buy more – I tell you, it would be a whole lot more efficient if the cat just learned to wipe its ass on my wallet. Cats need special scratchin’ posts where they sharpen their claws so that they may more easily shred your furniture. Cats need special cat food, specially formulated to permanently stain your carpet when they yak all over the floor for no apparent reason.
In our case those free cats cost us money for full physicals and special certification because we were driving through Canada with them on the way to Alaska. That trip was a little over 10,000 miles (We drove to Alaska from Southern California via Arizona, Florida, and Michigan – What? How would you do it?) which meant we needed cat carriers and methods to feed, water, and do waste removal on the road. And it is in travelling that dogs clearly have the advantage as pets. Dogs understand travelling. A dogs will sleep in the back of the truck for hours without complaint. Need to entertain a dog on the road, open the window. Dogs understand priorities. Stop, open the door, dogs get right out and immediately take care of business; a dog understand the concept of a piss break. Stop, fill a disposable tinfoil pan with litter, put it in the back of the truck, put the cats in the pan – and watch them do everything but pee. You can sit there for an hour, and the cat will play with a little piece of fuzz and sniff the air and not use the litter pan. Put the cat back in the carrier and get back on the road, and the cat will start hollering - “Hey, I gotta go here!”
We did pretty well on that trip, but there were times I seriously considered snapping both their necks and tossing their fuzzy butts out the window. In the middle of the Yukon, for example, when despite offering them frequent opportunities for a potty break, both refused to go – seriously, after nearly a month on the road and 8,000 miles you’d think they would grasp the basic concept. Suddenly the cab was filled with the most foul stench imaginable, obviously at least one of them had let go in their travel container (both were smaller then, and they liked to be in the same travel kennel). We cranked down the windows and I found a spot to pull over. Now if you’ve never driven the Alcan (the Alaska Canadian ‘highway’), especially into the far Yukon, you probably aren’t understanding the situation. It’s not like I can pull into a gas station, dunk them in a tub of windshield washer fluid next to the pumps and rinse them off with the hose. We were at least a hundred and fifty miles from the nearest human habitation of any kind. We hadn’t even seen another vehicle in an hour, if not longer. We had just spent an hour negotiating our way through a herd of bison blocking the road. We were in the middle of a valley, surrounded by a weird dark forest – the kind inhabited by Sasquatch or the Blair Witch. We found a spot to pull over and I parked the truck. I took the cat carrier around back while my wife fished out a big container of wetnaps (best travel item ever invented, especially in the jumbo container) and a roll of paper towels. My son took the dog for a walk (I want to point out that the dog immediately found a spot and did her business, just saying). Now, you need to visualize this, I am standing in the middle of the Yukon, about to open a box with two shit covered, highly irate cats who are now making deep growling noises like demented Tasmanian Devils and clawing with very sharp claws at my hand on top of the carrier. I’m serious when I say that I would have rather have walked into a wolverine den wearing nothing but a raw hamburger jockstrap than reach into that cat carrier at that very moment.
My wife held up an old towel to prevent the cats from getting away, and I opened the cage and carefully reached in. They both lunged straight at me, and I deftly grabbed the clumsy Tubby by his neck, but Stupid managed to evade both my wife and myself and dashed across the road into the woods. I stood there unable to pursue because I was holding a shit covered cat by the scruff of its neck, a cat that was doing everything in its power to get away from me, biting and scratching and making hissing noises like the granddaddy of all pythons. I believe my swearing violated at least seven different Canadian laws, and at least two international sanctions. Good thing the Mounties weren’t around. I carefully handed Tubby to my wife, who wrapped him in the towel, and started across the road.
Picture it, me looking for a shit covered white cat deep in the dark dank spruce forest of the the Yukon. This is what my life had come down to. If a pack of wolves or a grizzly bear had shown up then, I probably would have lain down and let them kill me. Eventually I found the filthy stinking cat under a log a hundred yard back into the woods and managed though stealth and guile to snare the damned thing. He fought me every inch of the way back to the truck, and he was none to pleased with his subsequent wetnap bath. We locked both cats in the back of the truck while I cleaned the carrier with wetnaps and paper towels and bottled water. Both, working together obviously, had deposited enough crap in the carrier to equal their combined body weight. Christ, what a mess, from the looks of it they’d been saving it up since Edmonton. Then I had to bag up the paper towels and such in two layers of garbage bags and strap that stinking bundle under the cargo rack on the roof – I’m an American true, but I wasn’t going to leave a pile of used wetnaps for the Canadians to clean up.
A week later outside of Tok, Alaska, it happened again – only this time it was in the middle of a forest fire. Yay. Cats.
Life since then has been one feline adventure after another.
And you know what happened later, Stupid cost us a serious amount of money. We’d hoped, after the eagle incident, that we would still have enough money to send our son to at least a second rate college.
But alas, it is not to be.
Two days ago Stupid started barfing up his dinner. I figured it was hairballs and wasn’t particularly concerned, it’s not like the carpet isn’t already ruined anyway. But he was still barfing the next day, and making an unearthly moaning noise. He was in obvious pain even though we couldn’t tell what was wrong with him.
Becky took him to the Vet yesterday morning. He’s still there.
He’s got a bladder infection, which blocked his urinary track. He hadn’t peed in a couple of days, apparently. He needed to be catheterized and given intravenous antibiotics. Cat intensive care, want to take a guess at what that costs? Looks like community college and living at home until he’s twenty-five for my son – unless he manages to knock up the Governor’s other daughter, mmm, there’s an idea.
So far, this ‘free’ cat has cost me thousands and the counter is still ticking. I just got off the phone with the vet, they’ve got him drugged, he appears to be responding to the antibiotics, but he’s still peeing through a straw and there’s still some blood in his urine. The Vet indicated that this might happen again, so I should probably look around for a second job.
I suggested they use a couple of wetnaps – perhaps hold a wad of them over his nose and smother him in his sleep.