Saturday, September 19, 2015

Boxing Tater

Some people refuse to be put in a box. And by "people" I mean cats. And by "some" I mean our cat, Tater.

Most people have no trouble whatsoever being put in boxes. They'll put themselves in their own boxes and label them so you don't even need to look inside to see who's there. They'll advertise themselves on their car bumpers and put Confederate flags on their license plates and kittens on their checkbooks. They'll carefully curate their Facebook personae by linking to politically charged sites and engaging in snide commentary with strangers, or praise the Lord a few dozen times a day for every little thang, or demonstrate their vulnerability by insulating themselves with pictures of adorable animals. They willingly provide access to all of their buttons and display them to the entire world. Push here, they say. You'll see what makes me squeak. We need only a glance and we know what box to put them in.

Not cats, so much. Your standard government-issue cat is going to be fine with putting herself in, say, a cardboard box. Don't you try it, though.

Tater is a relatively biddable cat, as they go. She has rubber caps on her claws, because she persists in waging war on upholstery, but not on us. But try to jam her in a box? Good luck with that.

A cat's social behavior and tendency to write its own rules has been formed through thousands of years of knowing that nobody wants to eat cat meat. Your normal cat will have predictable responses to stimuli.  If you pull on her tail, she will double back and try to staple you with her face. Not Tater cat. If Tater is heading in a direction you strenuously do not want her to go, and you grab her tail--an evolutionary relic from some Labrador Retriever in her personal woodpile--she will continue in her preferred direction, at a slightly reduced clip, towing you on your belly, if need be. She is a sturdy cat.

Similarly, if you want to put a normal cat in a crate, you approach her from behind and grobble the back of her neck like her own kitty mama did when she was wee. This move is designed to strip the obstrepory right out of a cat. A neck-grobbled cat will fold up into damp laundry before your eyes. She can then be lowered into an upended crate with no fuss. There's some kind of instinctual thing that happens to cats that are properly squoze at the back of the neck. It's like the knee-jerk reflex. It's a guarantee.

You come up on Tater from behind with a big, capable, muscular hand like (for instance) Dave's and grobble her by the back of the neck, and none of that happens. She may have been snoozing like a bag of pudding but all of a sudden she develops discrete body parts and every one of them is sticking straight out. She looks like an opinionated starfish. It takes two of us to jam her in the crate and it always seems like we're going to snap something important off. And that she might be fine with that.

Sturdy cat, that one.

We don't do this to take her to the veterinarian. Lord no! This cat does not need a vet. If she were any healthier we'd never get anything done. We do this to take her to the cabin. There were problems with just putting her in the car and hoping she didn't insinuate herself under the brake pedal. We thought she'd be better off boxed up.

And we do this because we truly believe she'll feel better if she's in our cabin for three days sleeping on the ratty sofa next to us than if she were left home alone with a bucket of kibble, sleeping on a ratty recliner, one that was just fine before she and her predecessor ratted it all up. We think she likes us that much. We're right about that, too. She does not have the luxury or burden of thoughts about the future, so we have them for her. As far into the future as she gets is: am I being boxed up? And am I about to be boxed up? And when she is, that's when she earns her nickname.

The Tatrix.

31 comments:

  1. OMG... too funny! That third picture, it looks as if she is pointing at someone (the photographer, perhaps?), saying "You! You will DIE for this!" Her eyes have a malevolent gleam that says, "You will rue the day, humans! not now... but someday... when you least expect it! Bwa-ha-ha!"

    As to the "neck grobble thing" incapacitating cats (at least, normal ones!): it sounds like a variation of the "Vulcan neck pinch". That it doesn't work on Tater would be a constant source of alarm for me if I lived with her. I'd watch my back, if I were you!

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    1. Neither of us has ever gotten a scratchlet out of her except for when we pick her up and a dog walks in or something. She JUST doesn't like being boxed up.

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  2. Have you tried leaving the open cage around in your living area all the time, not just when departure is imminent? Cats are such curious things, and they do like enclosed spaces - if they choose them - and she might develop a higher level of comfort with the hated contraption. She might even, as one of ours has done, decide the cage is a safe spot, a desired spot, a haven in a storm.

    Or not.

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    1. Well, it's not attractive. And right now when she sees it she becomes invisible. What she really prefers is no storms.

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  3. P. S. Awfully entertaining, this was. For us!

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  4. I had to do this twice this week for two separate cat appointments at the vets. One cat is agreeable; the other fights with everything in her.
    I won, but at a price!

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    1. We get around that by never taking the cat to the vet. We prefer to assume she's just fine. I think our dog cost us about $200 (vet AND food) over 17 years.

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    2. We are required to get rabies shots even though our cats are indoor only. They were rescues we got through a vet so the only way out of the shot requirement is if we claimed that they both died in the same year. That would seem suspicious I think.

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  5. "snoozing like a bag of pudding" ... * snort * ;^)

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    1. Actually I get into the whole pudding aspect of a cat in another post. Haven't put it in yet.

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    1. Or a grocery bag! Just tie up the handles...

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  7. When our cats travel (and it is almost always to the vet) we get out the dreaded box a few days in advance. Mainly because if they see it they velcro themselves to the carpet under the bed. After a day or so they will come out...
    Tater is a gem. But you knew that.

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    1. Yeah, she's okay. She's Dave's cat. They're in love. You should have seen my OTHER cat Larry. Now that was a cat.

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  8. Most people have no trouble whatsoever being put in boxes. They'll put themselves in their own boxes and label them so you don't even need to look inside to see who's there.

    Funny how that works, isn't it? Especially on that literal human traveling box, the car. Every so often you see one totally festooned with bumper stickers and they usually add up to an encyclopedic guide to all the people and things that the occupant dislikes. But that's the box they choose and how they choose to label it.

    As for Tater, it's too bad animals can't grasp certain more abstract concepts, such as the concept of Mitt Romney. She might feel some relief that at least her box is going to go inside the car and not on top of it.

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    1. Did you ever see that cat that draped over the guy's motorcycle helmet and they both cruised away, the cat's ears flapping back? I want that cat. Only, I guess I don't want to learn how to ride a motorcycle, so never mind. I would have happily strapped previous cat Larry's crate to the top of the car when she cut loose with the vicious diarrhea.

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  9. I know the feeling. My cats become krakens (spelling may be wrong) and battle me. But once at the vet they are more than happy to stay inside the crate! The vet always says I should let them get comfortable with the crate by taking the top off and placing a soft towel or something inside so they will enter and rest. Then put the lid on! I tried it and the cat peed on the towel and did not stay inside,...obviously! I got the message.
    I want to know how you got the rubber claw covers on her!!!!
    Come do my 2 cats.

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    1. She does not care for it. Once you get them on you only have to do one or two at a time because they don't all fall off at once. That's doable.

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  10. Well, you could try singing. Long ago I was doing a comic song (at a soiree at our place) and on the final (very forced ) high note, our Siamese cat opened a cupboard and hid inside.
    Of course, if you can really sing this probably wont work. (The method I use now is to shove the buggers in, rear end first.And keep the band-aids handy)

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    1. I really like the visual of your cat in the cupboard. What was the song?

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    2. Joyce Grenfell's one about the 3 lady choristers at the Royal Albert Hall.

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  11. I've tried that neck-grab thing on Angel and it worked a treat until he got too heavy for me to lift that way and half the time I grabbed the wrong spot and it didn't work. Last time I took him to the vet, he'd forgotten about the carrier, so I put a couple of treats way in the back, he walked part way in to get them and I shoved him from behind and slammed the door. off we went to the vet. easy-peasy. Until it came time to come home again and he wouldn't get in the box. I held it steady while the vet man-handled him in for me.
    I'm amazed you can grab Tater's tail like that. Holding Angel's tail would cost me an arm and maybe half my face.

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    1. I'm willing to sacrifice my face. Tater once got out the front door and was heading for the edge of the porch and I grabbed her tail and you would NOT believe it wasn't a 200-lb man hauling away.

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  12. Oh Murre. Maybe it's on license plates in Portland. In Whipple, they're flyin' two of 'em, full-sized, from each back corner of the pickup bed. I grin, knowing how many fewer mpg they're gettin as they GIT R DUN. Love this post. Double-thick cardboard box. When she gets in, in the normal course of being a cat, slap a screen top over it and buh-bye. :)

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    1. Yeah, no. It isn't even on the license plates here. That's a little bit of Local Color I thought I'd introduce because I read about it somewhere. Around here, if you're someone like me, you can kind of count on everyone else thinking just about the same way. I like it. It's restful.

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  13. I dread vet visits. The cats are fin in the carrier and at the vet, but somehow they know when there is a vet appointment. I try to be unconcerned (the carrier hidden in the back hall) but the cats slink around the house. When it is time i try to be stealthy and sneak up on them but the race is on: under the couch, under the bed; wild dashes through the house. And then the tussle to get them in the carrier - somehow they sprout eight legs.
    I'm just saying: I don't know who hates vet visits most me or the cats.
    the Ol'Buzzard

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  14. my cat just doesn't like to leave the house - period! I gave up on the cat carrier and now, a few minutes before I need to leave, I bring out cut up chicken and while she's eating I wrap a towel around her and put her in a large canvas bag with a zipper on top and zip it up for the 2 minutes it takes to get downstairs and in my car - once in the car I unzip it a tiny bit...enough for her head to poke out...and drive the 3.5 minutes to the vet. I tried to pick her up by her neck once and she swung around and bit the crap out of me! My older cat loved the carrier - if I put it on the floor she was in it in a flash! Go figure.

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    1. Ooo, the towel idea! I hadn't thought of that. I should try the soft crate thingy too.

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  15. You can train your cat to love her crate, but there must be no force, no surprises, and no trickery. Here is a handout from Dr. Sophia Yin about it: http://info.drsophiayin.com/Portals/13722/docs/CrateCat.pdf
    or this one from another site: http://www.vetstreet.com/our-pet-experts/how-to-crate-train-your-cat?page=1
    Or this one: http://cats.about.com/od/amyshojai/a/training-cat-to-crate.htm

    I tried, but I couldn't not speak up! How would you like to be manhandled by giants and forced into a cage that you suspect is the preliminary to certain doom?

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    1. I especially liked the second link, where it says you should allow the cat to climb out of the crate herself, and not try to dig her out. Tater climbs out like a lit rocket.

      Poor cat is sadly undermotivated by food items...even her own preferred brand is only interesting at dinnertime, and she disdains all else. Weird animal. In any case, all these suggestions are fine as far as they go, but they're no way to write a funny blog post. You couldn't even mention "opinionated starfish."

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