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Getting the Runaround

Adjusting to a new roommate is always tricky business. It doesn’t matter whether that roommate is human, feline or some other species. Every creature in the home has to learn each other’s habits and quirky behavior. Some take longer than others to adjust to new surroundings. When we brought home our cat, Sam, he marched out of his carrier and went straight for the basket of toys. He inspected them and looked back at us with a “this will do,” expression and settled in. When we adopted our cat, Linus, he dove under the nearest blanket the moment he was free from his carrier. We knew that his adjustment period would take a bit longer than Sam’s. With patience and love, Linus has learned that the world on the other side of the blankets isn’t as scary as it had been before he moved in with us.

After a long afternoon of playing, Linus likes to kick back and relax.

After a long afternoon of playing, Linus likes to kick back and relax.

When Linus first emerged from his hiding place, he kept a watchful eye on us from a safe distance. We wanted to hug and comfort this frightened kitty, but we let Linus dictate how much interaction he could tolerate. As each day passed, he learned that he was safe and got a bit braver. Within a month of his arrival, he was hopping into our laps for on-demand snuggles. It was then that we noticed a problem. Linus had breath that could peel wallpaper.

It was like his breath was an entity all to itself and it usually entered the room just ahead of him.We were thrilled that he was approaching us and didn’t want to discourage his friendly advances, but now that we were getting up close and personal, there was no way to avoid his horrendous halitosis.To compound the problem, Linus is a talker. He loves to sit in our laps and meow, giving us an earful and a noseful. It is difficult to fully express your love while holding your nose.

We tried to explain away his malodorous breath.  Perhaps his body was adjusting to his new food. Perhaps he needed a date with a dentist. I checked his scant medical records and saw that he had seen a veterinary dentist and had a teeth cleaning shortly before he came to live with us. Breath that bad could be an indicator of a serious health condition. Rather than trying to force feed Tic Tacs to our cat, Oregano and I decided that Linus needed to visit the vet. That’s when our troubles began.

In order to take the cat to the vet, we would need to pick up said cat. While Linus had gotten braver, all of our interactions were on his terms. Whenever we moved towards him, he would run in the opposite direction. Everyone knows the jokes about giving a cat a pill, but little is said about having to catch the cat to go to the vet to get those pills.  We tried using Linus’s favorite toy to lure him into the bathroom and into his waiting carrier. Very quickly, he became suspicious of our behavior and hid from us. Since he was completely unreachable and because we didn’t want to terrorize him, we canceled our vet appointment and rescheduled for another day. Oregano and I formulated a plan and after much meowing and scrambling, we got Linus to the vet.

The vet examined him and said the bad breath and a few other health issues were caused either by allergies or a virus that he was probably exposed to while living in a shelter with 200 other cats. She recommended giving him allergy medication for a week to see if the symptoms cleared up. In addition to the allergy medication, the vet gave us teeny, tiny tranquilizers to give to Linus before we attempted to bring him back for his next visit.

How on Earth were we going to give this cat medication when we couldn’t hold him?  Even under the best circumstances, giving a cat a pill is an exercise in patience, endurance and agility, but a prerequisite to accomplishing that task is actually holding onto the cat. If our experience getting Linus to the vet was any indication, this was not going to be an easy process for any of the participants. A blow dart with a tip laced in medication seemed like the best choice, but that option wasn’t available to us. We tried all sorts of tricks, but nothing was working. After numerous failed attempts, we called the vet for advice. She found us a pharmacy half way across the country that could make the medication into a tuna-flavored treat. Of course, Linus wouldn’t eat the very expensive medicinal treats. When we crushed up the treat and disguised it in the smelliest cat food money could buy, he finally ate it. After a month, we had managed to get a week’s worth of medication into Linus. Now, we just had to catch him to take him back to the vet for his recheck.

Armed with pharmaceutical assistance, Oregano and I were optimistic about our chances of successfully making it to the next vet appointment. As directed by the doctor, 45 minutes before our appointment we crushed up the tranquilizer and hid it in Linus’s favorite stinky food. He was leery of a mid day snack, so he avoided our offering. We walked away thinking that he might come back and eat without us hovering over him. As I left the kitchen, I asked Oregano to keep an eye on the food bowl. When I emerged from the laundry room five minutes later, I saw Sam walking away from the empty bowl licking his lips. Not only did we fail to slow Linus down so that we’d be able to catch him, the wrong cat had eaten the tranquilizer!

As the time for our appointment neared, we talked about our plan for wrangling an untranquilized Linus. Oregano thought he’d be able to sneak up on Linus and take him into the bathroom where he would eventually walk happily into his carrier. Oregano was sure this would work. I didn’t share his confidence, but I didn’t want to interfere with his game plan. As a furry gray and white blur streaked past me and dove behind the TV, Oregano asked for my assistance.  He thought that if we each surrounded the TV, Linus would run out and one of us would be able to catch him. Let me just say this; it is not a good combination to have a cat that is smart and athletic. Smart and slow-moving is fine. Not too bright and agile also works in our favor, but a cat that is smart and athletic is a recipe for failure on our part. Linus launched himself over me and the chase was on.

Linus ran from room to room with us following in hot pursuit. I ran in one direction. Oregano ran in a different direction. Linus used evasive maneuvers to avoid us. At one point, I’m not sure who was chasing who. It quickly became obvious that two middle-aged humans did not have the speed or reflexes required to capture a very determined four-year old cat. Realizing we’d never be able to catch him on our own, we shifted our strategy. Since lunging and diving wasn’t working, we decided our best option was to continue running around the downstairs with him. Hopefully, we could wear him out so that he would slow down enough for us to get him into his carrier.

Oregano and I were laughing at how ridiculous we must have looked trotting in circles through our house. All that laughing made running even more difficult. Linus would run several laps then dive under the couch. Oregano and I would lift it up and Linus would shoot out from underneath. He ran a few more laps with us on his tail then hid under the couch again. We followed this pattern for 15 minutes. It was quite a thorough workout; cardio and weight lifting.  Eventually, Linus changed the path he was running. I think he was secretly hoping that Oregano and I would crash into each other, but Linus made a tactical error; he jumped onto the kitchen counter and cornered himself behind the mixer. Oregano put the carrier in front of him and he reluctantly surrendered. The house looked like a tornado had blown through it. All the while, Sam slept his peaceful, drug-induced sleep completely undisturbed by our antics.

The three of us were panting and covered in fur, but we made it to the appointment on time.  The allergy medication had not caused a noticeable change in his symptoms. Linus stood still while the vet examined his mouth and recommended that we brush his teeth twice a day every day. I turned and looked at Oregano wondering how we were going to accomplish that feat on a daily basis. As the blood drained from our faces, the vet began to laugh, “Just kidding!” she said then handed us an additive to put in the cats’ drinking water.

Thankfully, now the only thing that announces Linus’s arrival in a room is the jangle of his favorite toy and his sweet meow. Recently, we’ve discovered a new problem. What do you do when you have two lap cats and only one lap?

Sam and Linus sleeping

About Paprika Furstenburg

I was born with an overly developed sense of humor and poor coordination. The combination of these two character traits has taught me humility and given me the perspective to find the funny in everyday experiences.

70 responses »

  1. Pingback: Balloons everywhere! – The Fantastical Voyages of Flat Kathy

  2. This was too funny! And to think dogs get a reputation for being energetic…

    Reply
    • I’m glad you enjoyed our antics with Linus. We’ve been working with him a lot since that incident and he is much less fearful, but no less energetic than he was. He sill won’t let us cut his claws. We’ve been living under the working theory that if he lived in the jungle, no one would cut his claws then. The flaw in our thinking is that there is no carpet in the jungle. He is starting to stick to the carpet like his feet are made of Velcro. We’re going to attempt to take him to the vet for a manicure/pedicure this weekend. Stay tuned. Depending on how this goes, I may have enough material for another blog post 🙂

      Thanks so much for taking the time to read so many posts, comment and subscribe. Welcome to Good Humored!

      Reply
  3. Anytime Phoebe Buffay (from Friends) and “Smelly Cat” can be worked into a post is a good day!

    Reply
  4. I doubt how many people actually Laugh Out Loud when they write LOL (a much abused expression on the internet). But on reading this ‘cat chase’ I really did LOL.

    Reply
  5. What a sweet story. Cats can be so exasperating, but it’s hard to be mad at them for avoiding human meddling.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Gabriel. Cats can absolutely be exasperating when it comes to medication and the vet, but we felt so bad for Linus. He was so terrified (and cute) that it was hard to be mad at him. Thankfully, as each week has passed, he has learned to trust us. That said, I’m not eager to take him to the vet or give him medication any time soon.

      Reply
  6. oh, poor Sam, poor Linus, and poor you! too funny, in hindsight, although at the time it was probably much less than so. thanks for being such great caregivers to your little tigers, and thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  7. oh, too funny! i mean, poor you. but seriously, that was just too funny. i think you both did exceptionally well. and Linus, too, of course. and poor Sam, too. i think it is just as well he was so relaxed while you were on the chase. you are very good pet parents indeed to be so determined to help Linus. three cheers for you!
     
    Timmy likes to be held, so getting him into his carrying case for his first vet visit was actually much easier than it could have been. he sends purrs to Sam and Linus. 🙂

    Reply
    • We felt like we were terrorizing Linus and there was just no reasoning with him 🙂 We’ve been working with him diligently so that we hopefully won’t have this problem the next time we go to the vet. Last week was the first time he ever let me pick him up. He’s slowly learning that he is safe and he can trust us. Now, if he’d just let us cut those claws…

      Purrs to Timmy 🙂

      Reply
      • oh those claws, i know, i know. Timmy really needed them trimmed quite badly so we opted to have them done while at the vet. sorry about the double-comments above. i thought i had left one, and then did not see it, so i sent another. oops! 🙂

      • We considered letting the vet cut his claws on a regular basis, but we know what happens when we try to take him to the vet.

  8. lol your blog is funny. please take a look at mine and let me know what ya think. just starting out http://theroseofkesha.wordpress.com/2013/05/03/silly-ways-to-deal-with-the-winter-blues/

    Reply
  9. That sounds like quite a trip! My cats love the carrier because they think it’s a box. So it’s not quite as much as a hassle to get mine to cooperate. Carry on with your shenanigans! 🙂

    Reply
    • How lucky you are that your cats willingly climb into their carrier. We’ve tried leaving it out for them to play in and they avoid it like the plague. I’m so glad you enjoyed our shenanigans. Knowing my life, there will be plenty more to come.

      Thanks for taking the time to read, comment and subscribe. Welcome to Good Humored!

      Reply
  10. Spastic Sausage

    Great story! This totally made my day and as relatively new again kitten owner I could totally relate. I look forward to being able to share similar stories 🙂

    Reply
  11. This was hilarious! The stuff we put ourselves through. For comedy’s sake it’s good to keep taking him to the vet. For sanity’s sake you might want to take a look for a traveling vet. We’ve used one for years-she is actually less expensive than the vet’s office and can do almost anything for us in our own home. And the kitties are relaxed because they have no clue that Flo is the vet, and they’re on their own turf. She tosses catnip toys down as she comes in the house!

    Anyway, good luck with all that…

    Reply
    • I’m so glad you enjoyed our tale.

      The house-call vet is a good idea and yours sounds wonderful. Our vet seems to think that Linus had very little human contact when we was in the shelter before he came to Tabby’s Place. We’ve been working with him to pick him up a little at a time and making it a pleasant experience for him. It seems to be working. That said, I’m hoping we won’t need to go back to the vet for quite awhile. However, if I do run out of blog material, maybe I’ll just schedule an appointment for him 🙂

      Reply
  12. Oh my goodness…. that sounded so much like my two. We hid the pill in yogurt… to this day they both LOVE yogurt…LOL Fantastic write. Thanks for the laughter! 😀

    Reply
    • I’m so glad I could make you laugh 🙂 We tried the yogurt trick too since both cats really like it. Linus caught on quickly and refused to eat the yogurt. Every trick we tried work one time. He was onto us after that. It was a lot of work trying to outsmart him.

      Reply
  13. OMG – this one really had me laughing a lot! Linus is adorable, however, but I think you should have taken a picture of you and your husband after the chase. Now THAT I would like to have seen.

    So, now I have good news and bad news. Bad news – Mobley has several masses that are probably malignant. He had an ultrasound (after we couldn’t get him to move one morning), but decided not to go further. He is almost 14, and now we are doing “compassionate care,” medication (for pain which is working well) and thryoid medication (which is also working well). He is happy for now, pain free, enjoying being spoiled, and pretty much getting every treat he wants. The vet agreed with our decision (not an easy one), since any surgery (if they would even advise it after going in) would be difficult and affect the quality of his life. So we are taking it one day at a time.

    The good news – Sandy and I are going to be grandparents (yes, I know, Waffle will still be our first). Simon and Danna are having a baby. No, they are not married, but it was part of a plan (as much as a musician plans), so it will happen eventually. They are very happy and that makes me very happy. Of course, typical of my kids, he waits until we move down here. For now, we plan to go up north often!

    Hope all is well, and the work shit is just passing through you and not getting you down.

    Love, Paula

    Reply
    • I’m glad you got to laugh at our expense. We are both grateful that there were no pictures of us after this incident. I can only imagine what we looked like when we walked into the vet’s office.

      I’ll email you about all your other news.

      Reply
  14. Hysterical, Paprika. Dave and I have had to resort to sneaky maneuvers to get our cats to the vet. We put the carriers in the garage the night before. Then, the next morning … shock and awe. (They’re shocked they were tricked, and we’re in awe that we pulled it off.)

    Hope Sam had a good snooze. Glad Linus and you all are breathing easier when he is around.

    Reply
    • I’m impressed by your shock and awe technique. If only that would work here. We have to sneak in the house with the carrier making sure the sippers and handles don’t make any noise.

      We’ve been trying to teach Linus that it is OK for humans to pick him up. He’s making a lot of progress, but we’re hoping we don’t have to go to the vet for a long, long time.

      Reply
  15. My cats will sleep in the bird cage and their carrier, unless they think we are going somewhere at which point they will hide. This was a wonderful story. Your vet has a great sense of humor.

    Reply
  16. “A blow dart with a tip laced in medication….” So why wasn’t that option available to you? 😉 Very funny and yes, been there, done that, bought the funny hat!

    Reply
    • Believe me, if there was a way to have made those medicinal blow darts, we’d have tried it. I’m so happy to know that other people have had a similar experience I felt like the worst pet parent ever.

      Reply
  17. Too funny! Thanks for the story and the laughs!

    Reply
  18. Paprika, you should submit this funny cat story to publisherssyndicate.com. Believe it or not, they are accepting cat essays for their “Not Your Mother’s” series! Check it out!

    Reply
  19. There are two stray cats that have befriended our family and I got reminded of them while reading this post! Loved it. Linus sounds way too clever…I see streaks of brilliance. SuperCat, perhaps? 😀

    Reply
    • I’m so glad you enjoyed the post! Linus does seem to be clever. I guess that works both for us and against us. He is quickly learning that he is safe now and he can trust us, but he is too clever when it comes to figuring out how to avoid going to the vet.

      Reply
  20. Deb Weyrich-Cody

    OMG, how I feel for you two (but I sure would’ve paid to watch; ) So glad everything worked out eventually and LOVE the kitty pals pic: )

    Reply
  21. What a funny story! I bet Linus tricked Sam into eating the food. And I bet he was proud of himself. 🙂

    Cute picture!

    Reply
    • It wouldn’t surprise me if those two were in cahoots about the tranquilizer. Sam was a very willing participant in eating that food. He had been napping (or so we thought), but he snuck in there the second we left the bowl unguarded.

      Reply
  22. I always enjoy reading your articles, this one is right up there at the top =) Thank you!

    Reply
  23. It isn’t necessary to be a cat person or to own a cat to recognize the humor in this piece, Paprika. The visual images you created of you and Oregano chasing the cat around the house and practically on onto the roof were hilarious! And then Sam peacefully meandering over to Linus’ bowl and eating the food along with the tranquilizer was too precious.

    Reply
    • Thanks for that great compliment, Ronnie. I’m so glad you were able to conjure up the images of our antics. I always worry that these pet pieces will only appeal to pet parents.

      You should have seen our faces when we saw Sam walking away from that food bowl.

      Reply
  24. Oh, Paprika, that was hilarious to read! Very well written and so much fun to go on the journey with you and Oregano!! Kudos to you both for your perseverance in solving the problem….and as for the need for another lap….you have my number!! xoxo

    Reply
    • I’m glad you enjoyed reading about our adventure. If you had seen us, you would have been hysterical. I’m sure the next time you visit, your grandcats will take you up on the offer of your lap.

      Reply
  25. Hilarious, Paprika.

    We’ve always had dogs that are perfectly happy going to the vet — and getting in the car. One day we will pay dearly for our good fortune.

    Reply
  26. Ah, yes, another lesson for humans on how to be raised by their feline companions! Cutting nails is one of our girls’ favorite routines – NOT!

    Reply
  27. Simply hilarious – have been there trying not to alarm nervous cat, but must capture…for their own good! Hope the cat breath is solved Talking cats are very interesting – they do develop a definite vocabulary…once the cat gets you trained….
    (The best lap is the one already occupied – cute pix)

    Reply
    • Linus’s breath is much better. We are grateful that we don’t need to brush his teeth AND that he actually drinks the water with the additive in it. We are even more grateful that he has learned to live his life outside the blankets. He is such a happy cat now.

      I’ve never had such a chatty kitty. It’s quite funny to learn all his different meows. He is working very hard to train us and we are happy to oblige him.

      Thanks for the empathy. I had a feeling that many other pet parents would be able to relate to this tale.

      Reply
  28. Never had that kind of problem with Cookie–our very intelligent, but highly emotional poodle. She did not fight me picking her up, but as soon as we entered the car she realized we were headed for the vet or the groomer–two of her least favorite people. Cookie would scream at the top of her little lungs to demonstrate her displeasure with the pending visit. I was always worried that should we ever have to stop at a traffic light and had a policeman pulled along side, I would be arrested for animal cruelty. Thank goodness getting her there was where my obligation ended. However, the groomer had to call upon her husband, a fireman, who would use his swork-gloves to hold Cookie, lest she take a snip of her own, while his wife worked on the less than happy client. At the vets, she would make so much noise they would quickly usher us into the examining room so that she would not incite the other pets to riot. I would probably have traded some of the hearing loss that I acquired over the years for the periodic physical workout that you had to put up with. It is amazing what we have to put up with to receive the unconditional love from our pets…..(but as you know, it is well worth it.)

    Reply
    • Well, Bob, I must say that you have dispelled my long standing belief that dogs are easier to coax to the vet. After reading your comment, I’m not sure who I feel more sorry for, Cookie or those who had to deal with her in that agitated state.

      You are right, though. We do tolerate quite a bit when it comes to our pets, but it is worth it.

      Reply
  29. Uncle Sea Salt

    Linus acted exactly like Biskitt. We would have to develop tactical and strategic military-type plans weeks in advance of taking her to the Vet. Well, Biskitt has finally gone on to her great reward, caused in part by over-exertion during her daring great escapes. One last thought; have you tried a Taser? Just kidding….

    Reply
    • I know exactly what you mean about strategic and tactical planning. We tiptoed into the house holding all the zippers on the carrier so he wouldn’t hear it. We hadn’t considered a taser. With my luck I’d either tase myself or Oregano. I was wishing for some type of tranquilzer mist we could spray in Linus’s general direction.

      Reply
  30. OMG, this brought back so many memories of trying to take a cat to the vet. Jake is now old so he doesn’t fight. Both Mollie and Hazel however, can tell when something is up. As for meds, Hazel will use the pill pockets fairly successfully. Mollie will not have anything to do with them. That 7 pound wonder can spit a pill across a room! Right now she has a hairball that didn’t come up yet. I can’t get her to lick the gooey medication so I am waiting for the cat grass to grow! I do know what you mean about everyone and everything being full of fur at the end of one of these exercises!

    Reply
    • I can not even begin to calculate the amount of money we spent on pill trickery. We had pill shooters and pill pockets. We spent hours of our time trying to devise new ways to outsmart Linus. Everything worked exactly one time. By the time we finally figured out a food smelly enough to disguise the medication, we had used up all the pills we had and had to get more so that we could give him what he needed.

      It truly is amazing how far a cat can spit a pill and how squirmy they become when you try to give them one. Good luck to you and Hazel on the passing of the hairball.

      Reply
  31. Love it! Found myself laughing to myself as I read! Great visuals Paprika!

    Reply
  32. I laughed my head off, because I’ve been there!!!!

    Reply

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