“Boxes, Buses and Automobiles,” by Sharon Sutliff

By Guest Contributor November 7, 2016 16:56

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Boxes, Buses and Automobiles

By Sharon Sutliff

“You have a cat? No problem — we have a cat.” With this, we were off to England where my husband exchanged jobs and houses with a teacher at the University of Sheffield. My duty, among other things, was to look after the cat in Sheffield, a coal black British subject named Brinjal Pickle. Brinji was substantially built with magnificent green eyes.

Soon after our arrival, Brinji needed medical attention for an ear mite condition. The first challenge involved transportation, as we had no car.

Although it was only a few blocks away, I was hesitant to venture out on even a short walk with him. I wondered if I could take him on one of the frequent buses that plied the route near our temporary home. Meanwhile, the vet’s assistant suggested I use a zippered bag, but the only thing in the house fitting that description was my suitcase, which I deemed inappropriate transport for a cat. Fortunately, a neighbor loaned me her cat carrier and offered to drive us to the veterinarian.

The carrier was the cardboard-type with a top that folded down to secure it. Brinji reacted as though he’d never seen one before and had no intention of trying it out. My first attempt at lowering him into the box failed when he thrust his hind legs out, spanning the opening. I nearly succeeded on my second attempt but, before I could fasten the lid, he shot out through the gap. I overtook him at the kitty door, thwarting his escape. On the next try I whipped the lid down before he could react.

I picked up the yowling carrier and went out front to await our ride.

Sensing we were outside, Brinji began to accompany his lusty vocals with vigorous clawing. No doubt I looked absurd to passersby, standing there on the sidewalk shouting “No!” to a cardboard box.

For a moment, silence. Then, in a small gap between the side of the box and the cover, a black paw appeared, followed by a nose. Having found a potential escape route, he rammed the vulnerable spot with his head. As I was momentarily stunned by this turn of events, he pressed his advantage, and poked his head through. Gathering my wits, I gently pushed the determined black face back inside and forced the opening closed. The clawing and yowling resumed in earnest. I was sure he’d be out of the box, and out of sight, by the time our transportation arrived.

Just as I was imagining my phone call to the clinic, telling them their patient had disappeared, my neighbor pulled up. I yanked open the door, thrust the carrier into the back and climbed into the passenger seat wearing a look of desperation. Throughout our journey, Brinji continued to protest his confinement by abusing the box with his claws and piercing the air with his indignation.

“Do you think the box is going to hold him?” she asked, frowning toward the back seat.

“I don’t know,” I groaned. Videos of this frantic cat turning the inside of the car into a feline version of Piccadilly Circus at rush hour played in my head. Had I actually considered taking him on the bus? I flushed with embarrassment as I imagined the struggle to keep him in the box while bemused passengers looked on. And if he had gotten out? How would I have corralled him amid the chaos on a crowded double-decker bus? I was saved from the frightful imagery when we stopped in front of the surgery (British for clinic).

I grabbed the vibrating box, dashed up the steps, and closed the door behind me with a sigh of relief. A large canine patient sat in the waiting room. Perhaps sensing impending doom, Brinji wisely chose to shelve his escape plans. He remained subdued for the rest of the visit and on the ride home. Back at the house, when I inspected the inside of the carrier, I realized he had been only moments from freedom.

Some time later, we received a letter from the cat’s owner who had not yet heard about our experience. He advised us to avoid taking Brinji to the veterinarian unless it’s really serious because “the experience is quite traumatic for him.” He continued, “If you must go, don’t take him in a car as he finds it particularly unnerving. Take him in a cardboard box.” Say again?

By Guest Contributor November 7, 2016 16:56
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