The other day my housemate approached me and blamed her scabby bug bites on the fleas living in a homely four-bedroom condo on my cat’s back. Truthfully, I had noticed my cat, Pickles, scratching the last couple weeks, but when I saw the price of flea medicine I almost blacked out and henceforth pretended not to see anything when she started to look itchy. Apparently flea hitmen cost a hundred dollars. I tried to look shocked when my housemate declared fleas (“Whaaaat? Fleas?!”) and agreed to take Pickles to the vet to be sure. I Yelped the nearest, most affordable vet and prepared myself for the horror that lay ahead.
When you have a cat, going to the vet is an experience. And by experience I mean the worse possible sequence of events imaginable. First, you must stuff the cat into a tiny, enclosed plastic hell known as a cat carrier. The only thing worse than putting a cat in a carrier is putting a fat cat in a carrier. Pickles is obese. While this made it difficult to shove her fat ass in such a small space, it worked to my advantage because I could successfully bribe her out from under the bed with chicken each time she ran away. She either has a very short memory or doesn’t give a fuck when food is involved (we’re very similar in that sense). I finally burrito-wrapped her in a towel and shoved her in, praying that the large towel plus cat fat didn’t add up to zero oxygen. She clearly had oxygen because the entire drive to the vet she mewed loudly with what I can only imagine to be “Fuck you, you sick bitch” in cat language.
Not having googled the vet I chose beforehand, I was apprehensive to find out I picked a place in the middle of the ghetto. I pulled up to a seemingly abandoned warehouse with “VET” labeled in graffiti and wandered around aimlessly while people stared, dumbfounded, at the one white girl on the sidewalk. I finally found the entrance and lugged a traumatized Pickles up to the counter. The inside was slightly more inviting than the crumbling, dilapidated outside. The front desk lady sent me to a room in the back and a vet’s assistant greeted me. He wore sunglasses; that’s how ghetto this place was. He pulled the horrified Pickles out of the carrier and said, “I need to take her temperature.” I nodded, forgetting what that meant for cats until he pulled out the probe and headed for the anus. I felt a sudden, intense cringe of sympathy pain as it went in, although Pickles didn’t seem to mind. She was feral before I adopted her. Girl’s been around the block.
After the anal probing, the vet came to check her out. He declared she had no fleas (take THAT, housemate!) but needed a million different things to stop whatever was making her itch, which added up to a bill of about a thousand dollars. I tried to stop the dizziness before politely declining the shit they were dealing. The vet’s assistant offered to perform a cleansing of the anal glands, normally thirty dollars, for free to help with her itching. I agreed because it was free; Pickles will never forgive me. He came at her with a wad of cotton balls and an expression that seemed to say “What am I doing with my life?” Three ear-piercing meows later, he snapped off his latex gloves and tossed the evidence. I was shocked the procedure cost so much since it looked like the vet pulled this guy off the street and asked, “Do you know how to use cotton balls and can you find a cat’s anus?” With her anal glands clean, Pickles and I were finally released. She glared at me the whole way home. If I choke in my sleep on a hairball, you know whom to prosecute.