3: Bootsie’s Pick-Me-Up

3: Bootsie’s Pick-Me-Up

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Very Good, Very Bad Cat

Bootsie’s Pick-Me-Up

Fun fact: Just like humans, animals react to medications differently, so how your cat reacts after having anesthesia may be hard to predict.

“Bootsie survived the surgery! The vet says she’s ready for pickup, but I’m swamped. I’ll be tied to my desk for the rest of the afternoon. Could you please take her home for me and get her settled?”

While I’d never met my boss’s precious cat, we’d spoken of little else that morning. Well known for her nocturnal spats with the neighborhood cats, Bootsie had come home with a nasty gaping wound above her left eye. It had required immediate suturing.

Of course, I’d take the little darling home. Just two months into my job as the assistant to Sue, the charter bus company’s director of marketing, I welcomed any opportunity to prove myself to my new boss.

I pulled up to the door of the clinic not thirty minutes later. Smoothing down the front of my new navy skirt, I tossed back my hair and breezed into the lobby, the picture of administrative efficiency.

“But where’s Bootsie’s crate?”

Excuse me? Sue hadn’t said anything about a crate.

The weary receptionist sighed and jerked her thumb in the direction of a teetering pile of flattened cardboard.

“She’ll have to go home in one of our temporary ones. There’ll be an extra charge, of course.”

No problem; I was confident money wasn’t an issue when it came to sweet Bootsie.

Brandishing a fully constructed sturdy pet carrier, the white-coated vet also handed over a small medicine vial.

“Here she is! She’s still sleepy from the anesthetic. But Sue told you about the pill, right?”

Not wanting to get my crate-challenged boss into yet more trouble, I nodded.

“Okay. So, half as soon as you get her home. No more, no less. Half. For the alertness, to help her wake up.”

I hefted the surprisingly heavy crate under one arm and headed for the car after stealing a quick peek through the nearest air hole. What an angel. Much larger than I’d expected, the ginger gem was curled into a slumbering ball. Poor poppet. She’d apparently escaped blindness by a whisker’s breadth. Her sutured wound was a virulent, angry pucker just above her left eye.

Time to get this girl home.

How odd. Halfway up the final hill, just fifteen minutes from our destination, the car began to unexpectedly decelerate. I pumped the gas pedal frantically. The vehicle responded by stubbornly shuddering to a halt in the middle of the curb lane. With the fuel indicator hovering beyond empty and the engine refusing to turn over, I had to accept that I’d run out of gas.

Muffled rustles emanated from inside the crate; the patient was stirring. I couldn’t abandon my charge, could I? No. But I had to. She was too heavy to carry. Surely, no one would steal her in the short amount of time it would take to schlep down the road to the gas station. I popped open the hood to alert other drivers to the situation and locked the doors.

As I lurched back up the hill some fifteen minutes later, shifting the gurgling and cumbersome gas container between my increasingly aching hands, my eyes were drawn to a curious image. A tangerine bundle of fury was hissing maniacally while frenetically hurling itself to the top of the driver’s side window and, paws outstretched, sliding in slow motion to the bottom. Over and over. Bootsie. Possessed. How did she get free? The answer came quickly. Bits of shredded cardboard were strewn throughout the interior.

Time was running out. That requisite half pill was calling. The poor dear was probably scared out of her mind at awakening with a thumping headache in an enclosed box in a strange vehicle. Surely my calming presence would soon reassure her and restore her good nature. I’d have her home in a jiffy.

I hefted the container to the thirsty tank and quickly poured. Carelessly, as it turned out. Multiple gas droplets splayed onto my skirt and shoes. My head now thick with the gaseous fumes, I opted for the closest door. Startled out of her obsessive leaping, Sue’s darling streaked for the gas pedal, neatly wedging herself underneath. There she remained, resolutely lodged, a virtual hissing machine. Acknowledging that this wasn’t terribly conducive to driving, I summoned the courage to inch into the driver’s seat, tuck my knees up under my chin and begin crooning her name. These gestures proved woefully ineffective; the hissing morphed into plaintive screeches. I took scant comfort in the observation that her stitches remained intact despite the exhaustive escape efforts and subsequent acrobatics.

Five deafening minutes passed. Then ten. Just as I began to think I’d have to risk serious finger shredding as a result of dragging her out from under the pedal, the little minx suddenly stretched, eased herself out and gracefully leapt up onto the seat beside me. She proceeded to settle in as if this was our normal routine.

The blessed reprieve was quickly replaced by a horrid reality. The carrier transport option was toast. How was I going to get this hellion into her house? I’d have to wrap her up in something. Naturally, the only solution was my cherished woolen jacket that just moments ago had paired nicely with my now ruined skirt. As I reluctantly eased it off my shoulders, her eyes snapped open. I’d have to be quick.

She wasn’t pleased. Clutching the now impossibly twisting, hissing and spitting bundle, I stumbled to the front door. After shakily inserting the key, I wrenched it open. Once I carefully lowered the jacket to the floor, the little creature shot out, tore over the carpet and vanished up the stairs.

My overwhelming relief was once again short-lived. Bootsie still needed her pill.

It was teensy, the size of a grain of rice. The vet mentioned it had to be cut in half. Was he kidding? No, he’d stressed it quite clearly. Dumping my now repulsively fur-lined, saliva-soaked jacket in the hallway, I headed for the kitchen.

A quick perusal revealed only butcher’s knives. Wielding the least lethal-looking one of the bunch, I firmly cleaved the pill in two, then watched in disbelief as both halves plopped off the cutting board onto the floor and began rolling merrily along the tiles before disappearing under the fridge.

Enough. I was done. Time to call for backup. I rang the office and asked for my boss.

“Hi, Kelly. No, Sue’s gone for coffee. She said she’d be back in an hour or so.”

Gone for coffee for an hour or so while I was alone with Bootsie?

Bootsie zoomed into the kitchen, took one look at me and darted back out. I was dismissed.

And the note I left next to the empty pill bottle?

“Bootsie’s here. Somewhere. No worries — she’s more than alert. Trust your coffee break was good. Should you require yet another pick-me-up, you can happily find it under your fridge.”

~Kelly L. McKenzie

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