This Wednesday was going to be just another journey into civilization until I noticed that one of my cats was having trouble breathing. Oscar Brown, who was usually Oscar Brown the Meanest Cat in Town, was listless and lethargic and wheezing and rattling. I gave him his favorite wet food. He refused to eat. He refused to move. His eyes were glossy. His little lungs were trying to suck in air. It looked painful. He was pitiful. He needed medical care.
I called my usual country veterinarian, but was informed he was out vaccinating pigs and wouldn’t be available until morning. I couldn’t wait until morning. I had a meeting I did not want to miss in Lexington at 7pm. And, I was not about to leave a distressed Oscar on his own. I called my Lexington vet. He could get me in at 4pm if I could get to town. It was 2:30, the drive was an hour, and I hadn’t even started to load the car.
I ran back and forth across the dock, cart bouncing behind, boob sweat pouring, leaping over duck dung and finally got the car packed up except for the beasts. I wrestled Oscar into his cat carrier and hooked up the dogs. When we got to the car, Doc Grizzly decided he wanted to ride in the front seat, which was where Oscar needed to be. I had to physically lift all eighty-five pounds and shove him in the back. This was not done without much cursing that echoed across the water. I grabbed the cat carrier. Simultaneously, Oscar urinated and defecated on himself. It was now 2:50pm. No time to go back. I dumped the carrier, snatched a Sponge Bob beach towel from the dirty laundry, wrapped Oscar in it, and put him on my lap. On the way out of Norman’s Camp, a giant S-10 pick-up nearly ran me off the road. I swerved into a ditch and out. The dogs fell in the floorboard. Oscar pissed again. This time all over me. Still, I drove and drove, through the Palisades—five miles of the most narrow and windy roadways always riddled with drivers who refuse to stay on their side and tractors that putt along at thirty miles an hour. As I went around a particularly sharp turn, an errant turd rolled out of the carrier and into the floorboard. Still, I drove and drove with a limp and stinking cat on my lap. I made it into town and pulled up to the vet’s office with no time to spare, which meant the dogs had to go in with me. We've established that Doc is eighty-five pounds. Rufus is one hundred and fifteen. So, that means I now must carry the cat and control two hundred pounds of canine.
I sat Oscar on the exam table. He immediately jumped up and began batting at a light cord. Somehow he was dry and all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. I was still soaked with urine and sweat and covered in orange fur clumps. The vet put the stethoscope to Oscar’s chest, which was no longer heaving.
“What do you hear? Is it bad?” I asked.
“I really can’t hear anything. He’s purring too loud. But he seems fine. Is he always this chill?”
Apparently, there were two possible explanations for Oscar’s miraculous recovery. Either the adrenalin and epinephrine from the ordeal acted as a natural steroid and cleared up his respiratory tract or it was kidney stones, which he passed when he pissed in my lap. As the smell wafted up from my dress, I demanded, “Euthanize him.” The vet refused, so I loaded cat and dogs back in the rank-smelling car and took them home where Oscar Brown resumed his reign as Meanest Cat in Town. Just another day in lake life.
I just wanted to give you a glimpse into my oh-so-so glamorous world.