Saturday, May 9, 2015

Mini and Maxi visit the vet


‘I plan to get the cats sterilised.’
‘Why are you doing that? Cats can take care of themselves.
Just leave them in the forest.’ This is the usual comment one gets in India, particularly in smaller cities where keeping cats as pets, is yet to catch on.

After asking all round I zero in on the vet everyone says is the best surgeon in the city. In a phone call he assures me that he has sterilised a large number of cats, most of them brought to him from a nearby American school. In a visit, he says the same. The costs too are reasonable, and Mini and Maxi, two 9-month old males, get an appointment for Friday morning. I begin with the males as a test, as I know it is a simpler procedure.

Mini and Maxi spend the night indoors for the first time. They can have dinner, but no food after that, and no water after 5 am. At 4.30 am I check on them, and find them snuggled together, asleep in an open cat carrier. I shut it so that they cannot eat or drink anything. Later I put them in a large cage with newspaper, in case they want to do anything. Can’t let them out, or I may not be able to catch them again. At 9.45, they are back in the carrier, and with them on the backseat of the car, we set off for the vet. I have with me a Feliway spray, a cat toy, and a towel to help hold them.
Minty, on her first trip in a car, howled like a banshee and threw herself on all sides of the carrier in an attempt to escape. I expected the same from Mini and Maxi, but there was just one small miaow, even though it was hot in the car, and they hadn’t even had water. After a one-hour drive we reached the vet’s office--though nothing much was happening there, we had to wait another half-hour, in the waiting room. A Rottweiller and a dachshund looked in.
Then, says the vet, bring in one of the cats. ‘I have to bring both into a closed space first’, I explain. ‘I can’t open the carrier here.’ ‘Okay’, he says. I take the carrier in, but there is nowhere to put it. I need it on a table, so that I can safely open it, and bring one cat out, and catch it in the towel. I am also about to ask for a harness, as I have been to a vet in another city, where collars and leashes are immediately put on the cat when it emerges from the carrier. I don’t see the assistant with anything in his hand, but before I can say anything, he puts the carrier on the floor and opens it. Mini is out! And there is no closed space. As the assistant dives to catch him, he jumps up, and over the partition. There are three small rooms enclosed by these partitions, and terrified Mini jumps into the next one. The vet immediately says, ‘I can’t operate on this type of a cat. Please take it home.’
But the problem is to catch Mini. As two vets assistants chase her, he gets even more terrified, and the vet gets more and more cross. I remember the Feliway, which the vet has never heard of, but he grabs the bottle and sprays half of it towards Mini, by then hiding on a high shelf behind packets of food. Mini moves from there and the vet starts throwing things at him! The assistant brings another small cage and I put some Whiskas jelly in it to tempt him down, but he is too terrified. The assistant climbs after him, the vet throws things at him to stop him crossing the partition, and Mini drops--I try catching him but all claws are out, but as he dives behind some packages I get him by the tail--one assistant gets a scratch on the hand, the other, wearing gloves, shoves snarling Mini into the cage, and we manage to shut it. I have to pay for the cage and the Whiskas, and then we go home. But not before the vet has said that cats are not worth keeping. They don’t listen to anyone and bite the hand that feeds it, etc. I try to explain that Mini is only terrified, and that cats are very loving, but give up. We reach home--released, Mini rushes into the storeroom where he generally sleeps along with the other outside cats, and disappears among the boxes. He doesn’t emerge for the next two hours. Maxi meanwhile has never got out of his carrier, and saunters out, not much bothered.
I should have perhaps had them on harnesses to start with, but it was difficult enough to get them both in the carrier, and I thought the vet would know what to do.
How do I ever get them sterilised?