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Saturday, June 21, 2014

C is for -- Cat Carriers.

They are handy things to have around. Years ago when my husband and I were still in the early days of our marriage and were very poor, we would transport our cat Garfield in a large cardboard box. The problem with that was sealing it so he wouldn't suddenly pop out while on the back seat of the car or in the vet's waiting room (hell to pay!). To keep Garfield safe when moving him around in the cold, cruel world, we had no choice but to purchase a small, inexpensive plastic cat carrier.

But that led to new problems.

Garfield was chubby. The inexpensive cat carrier was really too small for him. Garfield did not like to be confined. Garfield did not like to travel anywhere, especially to visit the vet. Thus, once he was in the carrier, Garfield made horrible howling noises (incessantly), clawed frantically to get out, and mashed his face against the wire door so that his eyes bulged (something like this photo of another unhappy cat).

Our small son Daniel, sitting next to the carrier in the back seat, would see this display of angst and would begin to cry in pity (now TWO incessant howls and not in unison). Both hoped we'd feel sorry for this confinement and open the carrier door, but that was not to be while driving 65 mph on a Chicago expressway.

We took Garfield to the vet only when he was sick or for his annual checkup. To add insult to injury, he invariably got a shot -- rabies, distemper, or maybe an antibiotic. We learned to spend time at home before each appointment, reassuring him (while my husband and I, with all our might, shoved him into the carrier) that this vet visit was for his own good and he would feel soooooo much better when we brought him home again. The reassurances didn't work. Think mashed face on the wire carrier door. Frantic clawing. Bulging eyes. Howls.

Our second son Jeremy arrived in 1975. Eventually Garfield crossed the Rainbow Bridge and went to Kitty Heaven. When Jeremy started preschool and Daniel was in third grade, I went to work part time at the public library across the street from their school. Working meant there was extra money finally, so I bought a larger cat carrier (just in case...). Apparently, that was a sign. The stars had lined up, and we adopted a kitten.

A housecat belonging to one of Jeremy's classmates had had a litter of oh-so-adorable kittens. Jeremy decided he wanted the feistiest one whom he promptly named Rasputin. (Don't ask me how he knew anything about the real Rasputin or his reputation.) Of course, we tucked Rasputin into the smaller carrier for the trip to the vet for his young-kitten shots. It didn't take too many more months before he grew big enough to fit nicely in the larger carrier for his trip to the vet for neutering.

Two years later I adopted Thomas Jefferson (or rather, he adopted me) at the local cat shelter, so I bought a third carrier, a large soft-sided one. Big mistake.

It seemed perfect -- large enough room for an adult cat to turn around inside, mesh sides for viewing the world (and we could easily see the cat), a zippered opening on one end and also on top for ease of inserting said cat into the carrier, sturdy construction, and a suitcase-type handle. What could possibly be wrong with a soft-sided carrier?
As soon as we got one cat safely tucked inside, the other cat found immense joy in pouncing and bouncing on top of the carrier, flattening the cat inside. Since the two cats were only two years apart (Rasputin was a young adult and Thomas was a teenager), they rejoiced in tormenting each other, cat carrier or not.

The larger plastic carrier turned out to be ideal and has been our carrier of choice ever since. The top comes off easily, the cat can be gently deposited inside, there's plenty of room to turn around, the top can be quickly and easily latched back on, and the cat can view the passing world through the holes in the top and sides.. And, best of all, the cats like it (sort of).