“Mom, there’s a cat outside trying to get into the house and acting funny!”
Betty Ann looked down at her wildly gesticulating children and smiled. They had this tremendous capacity to exaggerate things so their concern didn’t generate the usual fight or flight mechanism women feel when their children appear breathless and stressed. She quietened them down with fingers to lips and spoke softly.
“Let’s take a look at this strange cat and see what we can do about it!”
Betty Ann finished drying the dishes and placed them slowly in their respective places. She was a methodical woman. Everything had to be done in its time and the cat would have to wait its turn.
The children milled around clutching her dress to try and communicate the urgency of the matter.
“Now stop that Katy! I’ll be with you when I’ve finished my work in the kitchen.”
It was a Sunday, so Betty Ann didn’t have to attend to teaching classes and was relishing her relatively carefree day. The afternoon would come soon enough and she’d sat quietly in her home office to correct assignments and prepare a teaching schedule for the coming week. No cat was going to intrude into her tranquillity. The hired help would amuse the children with games while she did that.
The pulling continued.
“OK, I’ll take a look at this cat and see why it’s acting funny and trying to invade our home.” Betty Ann chuckled softly as she hugged each of her children in turn.
The people army moved toward the door to deal with this invasion of their privacy.
Betty Ann looked out through the screen safety door. She stood silently contemplating as the children trilled in unison.
“Look at it Mom, it’s acting weird and it keeps scratching on our door”
The cat was walking around in circles, falling over frequently and mewing softly. Occasionally it would get up and head for their door to scratch violently, then return to its circular movements.
Betty Ann looked at her children anxiously. “Have you been outside to touch this kitty?” Each of them shook their heads while they watched the cat entranced.
Betty Ann didn’t know much about rabies but it was on her mind any time an unknown animal appeared around their home. She was relieved as she watched each of her children shake their heads.
“Good, I don’t want you to leave this house until I tell you it’s safe! Your father isn’t home so I’m going to phone Uncle Ted and have him look at your strange cat to see what’s the matter. Don’t go outside, do you hear?”
The children nodded. Their small minds now transferred from sympathy for the cat to a deep anxiety. Why was Mom so firm about this? Was the cat going to break into their home and hurt them?
Uncle Ted was not their uncle at all, but on this campus all mature men were called uncle by children. He soon appeared and unlatched the gate pausing momentarily to examine the cat and its gyrations. He moved closer slowly to get a better look ready for a quick retreat. Then he relaxed and walked past the performing animal to the front door.
“It’s OK Betty Ann. It looks like the cat has a tumour on its head. I’d say it doesn’t have much time to live poor little critter. It needs to be put out of its misery. Probably needs to be given to the Vet down in the village to put to sleep so it doesn’t suffer any more. I’m afraid I can’t help you as I have to leave on a field trip with some students. I’m late for that so need to keep moving.”
Betty Ann nodded and thanked Ted as he quickly headed for the gate. Her fear turned to compassion for the poor animal. She’d take it to the vet herself and see it was put to sleep to end its suffering. As her husband wouldn’t return from his business trip until Monday she decided it was up to her to care for this personally. She sent word to hired help and asked if they could mind the children while she made a quick trip to the vet.
There was commotion in the waiting room of the Vet’s surgery as Betty Ann arrived. One of the Vet’s assistants opened a door to peer at the commotion and soon the Vet appeared to see what this foreign woman wanted. He ushered her into the surgery and looked at the twitching cat.
“Madam this cat has a terminal illness. I cannot restore it to good health.” He smiled pleasantly and bowed his head, then turned to look at the animal on his surgery table.
“I know that sir, I came to ask you to put this animal to sleep so it doesn’t suffer any more.” Betty Ann gave her most winning smile and added, “Of course I’ll be happy to pay for your good self to do this!”
The Vet looked shocked. “Madam I’m here to repair animals not to kill them. I’ll be remembered in the next life for such cruelty and this cat will be rewarded for its suffering in this life also!”
He looked quite offended and turned to care for the dog lying on the table. His assistant ran to open the door indicating the discussion was at an end.
Betty Ann transported the cat back to her home. She had no idea what to do with the animal so left it in the cat container in the garage while she thought about it. The children had rushed to greet her as soon as they heard the car return and peered at the cat container where the animal twitched.
“Why is the kitty doing that Mom?” They were confident Mom had the answer and waited expectantly for her to reply.
“I don’t know, Dad’s not home so we’ll have to wait for Uncle Ted to return from the field trip this evening and I’ll ask him what to do.
Uncle Ted had been trained as a medical technician but had completed his PhD in another field of study, education. But that didn’t protect him from frequent requests for medical advice which he accepted with good humour as he tried to explain he was not a medical doctor. Anyone with the term Dr in an educational institution was considered by villagers as one who had the answers to their medical problems.
So that evening Betty Ann put on her most pleading voice and asked if Ted would take another look at the kitty and put it out of its misery with his medical technician knowledge.
Uncle Ted strode confidently through the gate with a tub and bottle of liquid.
“Do you have an old dog or cat blanket we can put over this tub?”
Betty Ann nodded understandably and soon appeared with an old blanket.
“Good, get the cat and we’ll put it in the tub, put the blanket over the top and I’ll pour some liquid in. The cat will pass to its rest without suffering anymore.”
“Do I need to hold the blanket so it seals?” Betty Ann looked at Tom and saw him shake his head.
“Too far gone Betty Ann, it will just go to sleep and we can bury it.” Tom lifted the blanket and poured in some liquid. The children watched anxiously.
The tub erupted and the blanket shot into the air depositing with wriggling cat on the garage floor.
Betty Ann rushed to the spot and unwound the blanket. The cat stared glassy eyed at them all and settled on its side twitching.
Tom watched in wonderment. “Should have worked!” He muttered picking the limp cat up and depositing it into the tub again carefully. The cat settled comfortably on its side twitching. He reached for the blanket and placed it carefully over the tub. “This liquid is supposed to put it to sleep without any struggle. He shook his head doubtfully.
Betty Ann can you hold the blanket on both sides tightly. I’ll pour the liquid again and then seal this side. He lifted the unsecured side and poured in liquid then placed the bottle carefully on the floor so it wouldn’t spill.
“It stinks in here,” said the children holding their noses. Tom reached over to cap the bottle.
Once again the tub erupted and the cat sailed through the air through the unsecured side landing on its feet before slowly keeling over. It remained twitching on the floor.
“Catstronaut!” called Betty Ann’s eldest cherub.
“Go to your room James Stephen and stay there until I tell you to come out!” Betty Ann’s patience was at an end. “Don’t joke about this! The poor animal wants to live but it’s going to die in agony if we don’t do something. You are a very naughty boy!”
James Stephen slunk off to his room while the rest of the children studied Betty Ann’s face.
“What’s a catstronaut?” Katie asked innocently.
“I think he meant astronaut, all of you go to your rooms until we’re finished here.
Betty Ann looked at Tom who shrugged uncertainly. “I’ll take it home, no sense in disturbing the children,” he muttered irritably.
And so it was that the catstronaut was taken to Tom’s place where the poor animal succumbed and made its journey to what was hopefully a better existence. We are unable to confirm whether it entered that realm under its own propulsion.
Next day a suitable resting place was chosen and a chastened James Stephen was prevailed upon by the rest of the children to place a cross marker over its resting place.
“© Copyright Ian Grice 2016 All rights reserved”
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