Emily is the third cat of the six to make the journey. Melville, our big Tuxedo cat, was the first, and he took it all quite philosophically, as he takes everything. He didn’t utter a single meow on the way there and when he was finally allowed out of his cage, he looked around the vet’s office as if he were a kid on a school trip to the planetarium.
Lew was the second. Lew the trickster, Lew the Cheshire Cat, Lew the magician, aerialist and cat-poet.
Lew didn’t make a sound on the way to the vet’s. Not a whimper, not a rustle. When we opened the cage on the vet’s table, he sort of sauntered out, looked slowly around, sizing the place up for possible sources of diversion, and purred quietly while he was being examined and inoculated. When we got him back home, he shot out of the cage like a puffy chocolate-brown streak and ran to rejoin the others (I wonder if they have some way of recounting to the other cats the kind of adventure they’ve just lived through?).
Emily was a quite different story. She entered the cage quietly, but once inside she set up a piteous, screeching, caterwauling that must have been audible three streets away (and such a tiny cat too!). Then she howled her way to the vet’s (no doubt alarming passing motorists).
She was oddly quiet—disconcertingly so, we thought—in the waiting room. Malgorzata noticed she was shaking badly, so much that the grilles of the cage were vibrating.
She seemed reluctant to exit the cage in the vet’s office. Malgorzata was puzzled by what seemed like substantial wetness on the floor of the cage (had she peed in her upset?), until the vet explained that cats perspire through their feet and it was just Emily’s way of sweating in terror. Our hearts went out to her.
Gradually she calmed down (our veterinarian has an admirable cage-side manner). And allowed herself to be stroked, probed and vaccinated, all the while seeming quite unmoved by the compliments the vet and his assistant were lavishing upon her—how beautiful she was (she is!), how exquisite her markings (they are!), how perfectly, gloriously fit she was (hurray!).
I was wondering if she’d howl all the way home again. I figured maybe she’d have some sense of return, some feeling for the ordeal’s being over. Not a bit of it. She yowled on the way home just as vociferously as she’d yowled on the way there.
The minute the other cats were released from the cage back into the house, they shot out of it like cannonballs from cannons. Not Emily.
Emily took a few steps forward. She looked around slowly, carefully. She walked a few steps to the livingroom door and gazed into the room (was she really home? Was this the same house?). Then she took a few steps in the other direction, looking into the Dining Room (same questions). By now the other cats were gathering in welcome. Grigio, her special inamarato, came up to her and gave her a lick on the head. So did the lordly Orlando. Lew wanted immediately to play. The philosophically aloof Melville watched these tender proceedings from the fourth stair of the staircase leading upstairs. Vita was probably all the way upstairs, curled on a sunny pillow on my bed. Our two cat-sisters aren’t all that chummy.
What happened next was gratitude. Floods of Emily-gratitude. She stayed around close. She wanted to be petted. She purred a lot more than usual. This morning, the day after the ordeal, she found a warm place on the back of the sofa in the livingroom, near where Malgorzata was having coffee (see photo) and stayed there for a great long time. Apparently it was deep bliss to be home again.