Once upon a long time ago, in a land far, far away (from the US at least, if reading in the UK, picture the outer suburbs of London), a trainee Mad Cat Lady was having her front room damp proofed, her floor boards replaced and she didn’t know it yet but the bloody builders were going to charge her a small fortune for doing a very crap job and she would be fixing and replastering the blasted wall and repainting for 8 further months as well as getting absolutely soaked when she realised the same shower of brown stuff had managed to breach their own, new damp proof course and she rented a machine from a guy who saw her coming a mile off and gave her a machine which squirted more damp proofing over her than it did into the flooping brickwork but anyway I digress …
Here she was, Mad Cat Lady in Training and she needed to find a place to put her three cats (two boys aged 18 months and a girl cat, aged 9 months) whilst Bodgit and Leggit were playing at being master builders and using chemicals hazardous to cats. So she thought and she thought and she phoned and she phoned and eventually she found a nice cattery run by a lovely sounding man and it was about 20 minutes from her. She mentioned that her cats were rather attached to her and they would not appreciate being away from home. Nice Cattery Man (NCM) said no problem, he was used to problem cats, had a cattery for 20 years and was also used to odd dietary requirements. He was quite expensive but she preferred quality over cheap and after visiting the cattery (which was lovely) a booking was made.
She had one big cat carrier and in deference to cost and sense (as Guinevere was only 9 months old and the tiniest thing you have ever seen) she decided the boys (who travelled in the carrier together even when only one of them was vet bound) could go into Carrius Largess and Guinevere would do fine in a cardboard carrier for adult cats (suitable for up to 5 trips according to the blurb). In no time at all, it was time for Bodgitt and Leggit to embark on the Great Building Cockup and (unfortunate acronym but there you go) MCLiT and her boyf took the cats (as predicted in their carriers) to the Cattery. The journey started uneventfully. MCLiT had the address and was in the backseat with the boys in the big carrier and Guinevere was in her cardboard carrier in the back, back seat, all strapped in and safe. One snag was that the cab driver did not have a map (and GPS was busy being invented). He was not one of MCLiT’s usual cabbies, who were used to her and the cats and he was quite grumpy. He was certain though that he knew where he was going and as they left, darkness fell.
After 20 minutes of driving around in the dark, Grumpy Cabbie stopped and said here we are. MCLiT said, um, no this is not the place. A small, spirited discussion ensued and the cab driver admitted that he had misheard and actually didn’t know where the true location of the place was. He was also unable to communicate happily with his controller as the radio was faulty and the controller sounded like he was talking from the bottom of an oil well.
MCLiT was also not familiar with the area so after some more spirited discussion, it was agreed to head for a main road and try and navigate from there. The cats had been doing very well up until this point but perhaps picking up on MCLiT’s stress, they started making a racket. Arthur miaowed to Guinevere who miaowed back to him and Merlin, Merlin replied back to Guinevere and they decided the best course of action was to be jolly and have a sing-song. This thoroughly unnerved Grumpy Taxi Man, who, realising it was full moon or thereabouts, got it into his brain that he was not transporting 3 cats but instead some weird creatures who were going to erupt from their boxes as soon as the moon came up. In the middle of all this, MCLiT called NCM and tried to find out the best way of getting there but as no-one had any idea of where they were (apart from NCM), this was a bit fruitless.
The boyf tried to navigate but as he had no flooping clue either, it just ended up being a Big Mess and they headed back looking for a main road. Gaily they travelled along, the cats moving on from “I hate cat carriers” to several verses of “we’ve had enough we want to go home” and GTM became more and more unimpressed with his cargo and MCLiT veered from intense irritation at GTM to concern that NCM was going to get fed up and close before they got there.
After asking people along the road, they discovered that they were in fact some several suburbs away but got the general gist of how to get there. MCLiT then had a conversation with the cats (which unnerved GTM even more) and they started to relax and quieten down. Except Guinevere who seemed to have a sudden attack of instant fleas. Scratch-scratch-scratch-scratch-bump-bump-scratch. MCLiT had a terrible vision of Guinevere tearing the carrier to shreds but was heartened after swivelling round and checking that the carrier was still in one piece and secure.
Several minutes later, they exited one suburb and into another, nearer to their destination. MCLiT called NCM and with a huge sigh of relief estimated their ETA as 15 minutes. NCM gave MCLiT some final instructions on how to get there which she relayed to GTM who replied with a Hummpff. Sod ya, thought MCLiT but managed not to say it out loud. They continued to trave gaily along, the moon came up, boyf started to whistle, Guinevere was still scratching and MCLiT sighed a big sigh of relief and thought about the cigarette she would gleefully have when they arrived. She did not want to think about the taxi bill.
Suddenly, the cats started up again. In the middle of a chorus of “We’re really effing sick of this now”, GTM glanced into his rear view mirror, screamed and slammed on the breaks. His worst fears had been realised! Leaping over the back seat was Something Out of The Box at the Back.
It was indeed Guinevere who was Not Happy and proceeded to head in GTM’s direction, at speed and made further unhappy by the propulsion of slammed breaks and the noise he was generating. Scrambling over MCLiT and not at all mindful of the absence of fur on her, she decided to reach the object of her dissatisfaction, GTM. GTM was still screaming, as MCLiT erupted with a fit of the giggles and attempted to grab Guinevere.
Being shut up in a box and deprived of proper recourse by way of laying a formal complaint with GTM, her normal ladylike demeanour failed entirely and she turned into a ball of spitting, hissing, claws, teeth and fur. It took a short while to restore order, stop GTM from screaming, MCLiT from having hysterical fits of laughter and get hold of Guinevere.
Close inspection of the box ascertained that she had somehow managed to work out how to get out of it by scratching at and pulling down the inside flap which held it all together and then by scratching a hole in the outside corner which was not able to be seen from the back seat. It was clear that she was not going to get back in there easily and attempts to put her in there just resulted in a completely shredded and mangled box.
It was decided to put her in with the two boys and for the last five minutes of the journey, the cats were so tightly enclosed they decided not to make a noise. After ascertaining that the cats would indeed NOT be travelling back, GTM decided to honour the wait and return agreement.
MCLiT arrived on NCM’s doorstep. NCM was not impressed with the carrier arrangements and asked why MCLiT thought it necessary to squash all three cats into one carrier. At this MCLiT collapsed into another fit of the snivelling giggles and he never did get the story out of her properly. The rest of the story is quick to tell. The cats refused to settle in, spent five days huddled together in a bed made for one. They refused to eat anything and in desperation, NCM tried everything from chicken to fish to tuna to prawns. NCM had never seen 3 cats so determined not to have a good time.
Day 5 they deigned to eat a little chicken but by this time, MCLiT and NCM’s collective and individual nerves broke and it was decided to bring them home. NCM very kindly offered to bring them back himself (he probably didn’t want another dose of MCLiT’s laughter and tears), which he did and they promptly walked out of their carriers, shook themselves off, cast baleful glances in the direction of the lovely man who had endeavoured to care for them and devoured several days’ worth of food each. A couple of months later, MCLiT referred someone to the Cattery, only to find that NCM had decided to close down. She sincerely hopes that the two events were not related.
And Nicole, this is why I will NEVER use a cardboard carrier again :-DDD.