CAT SCRATCH FEVER

The bad news was that we had a potentially sick kitty. The good news was that we already had an appointment to take 4, um, victims to get vaccinations … so we’d be killing 2 birds with 1 stone. An appropriate cat metaphor.

Allegra was the one with the tell-tale symptom (certainly not loss of appetite), which I noticed by chance. Due to HIPAA privacy rules, I can’t reveal her specific illness. Don’t laugh. In our “But I Digress” moment … many years ago, I asked the vet for my cat’s medical records. She said no, because I was not the patient. Barbara and Gale and I laughed [say that in a high-pitched voice, pronounced “laaauuughed”] in disbelief. And since we all worked in law, we joked about a document to prepare. Maybe a Purr-able Power of Attorney …

We assembled an assortment of carriers, and one by one, David & I … with great risk of bodily injury … forcefully corralled and captured the Feline Four, then quickly zipped each inside.

The meowing on route to the vet was 4-part harmony … like Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young.

With four cats in the car
Their crying makes it hard
Now everyone’s uneasy, even you …

Walking down the street, we must be quite a feline sight to see, schlepping the carriers … including one backpack-on-rollers style … with random meows emanating plaintively from this one or that.

VET: I’ll write you a prescription.
ME: [voice rising nervously] You mean treatment isn’t a shot?
VET: No, it’s a pill. And it’s not just Allegra who needs to get it … all 6 of them.

My naturally-fair complexion grew even paler.

6 cats a-squirming …

Two pills to a box = 3 boxes. I brought one home, the others on order. It was a small pill, by pill standards. The only word you need to read in that sentence is pill. To a cat, it could have been an 800 mg calcium tablet.

I’m a talented amateur, well-versed in the tricks of the cat-mom trade:

1 … closed room
2 … butter
3 … blanket burrito
4 … kneeling owner, between the knees
5 … prying open the jaw
6 … positioning the pill
7 … keeping the mouth shut
8 … rubbing the throat
9 … checking behind furniture for spit out pills
10 … neosporin for bites and scratches
11 … repeat
12 … take a valium

Aurora …

First, a word about Allegra. She is our loner cat. She prefers to be outside … hobbies include hunting mice, lizards, and birds … is credited with inventing “eat and run” … all-nighters began at 3 in a row, with her personal best at a long and nervous 9 … is The Enforcer when other cats come into our yard … avoids kisses and cuddles, preferring a quick (emphasis on quick) scratch on her head or base of the tail … sleeps under the bed when she does stay inside … tenderness was limited to her kittens, who she loved and caressed and whom she still lets eat from her bowl … motto “Beware of the bop” …

Shots, like drama, are easy. Pills are harder than comedy.

The thought of holding my wild child while trying to do a random combination of maneuvers was daunting. So I decided to be clever. Cream cheese is a fan favorite … and works with monthly flea/tick medicine for Bailame and Hayden. So I crushed the pill between 2 spoons … then mixed the powder into a small amount of its disguise.

Bailame …

Lick, lick … lick. Then Allegra walked away.

98% remained. The doctor will see you now, I said to the next patient. Same reaction.

By cat 3, I realized I needed better camouflage. A tiny piece of roast chicken with a glob of aspic for moisture. Nope. Nary a bite.

Some canned cat food, with its stronger aroma. Ha!

(You get where I’m going with this.)

A drop of milk to thin it out.

Maybe overnight in the refrigerator, the medicinal smell my human nose couldn’t detect would disappear.

(Stop snickering.)

Betelgeuse …

A syringe, I thought to myself … it worked for Duchessa a few years ago. I knew I could hold Annie or Betelgeuse long enough to squirt the mush into her mouth … but first I had to use the mortar and pestle to pound my concoction into a consistency that I could squeeze through the tiny hole and into the mouth of the recalcitrant recipient.

In the syringe, it was an astonishing amount of mush.

Annie …

I cleared it of air bubbles as any good nurse would do, screwed my courage to the sticking point, and grabbed Annie. I knew I’d have to do this slowly and gently so she wouldn’t choke. Or throw up 2 minutes later. The first bit made it into her mouth … then the plunger decided not to plunge. I had only one thumb available to get it to move, but in that moment, being opposable gave me no advantage. Annie was increasingly agitated … more determined to keep her jaw clenched … increased her squirminess trying to escape my grasp. Not necessarily in that order.

Pills 0.

I called the veterinarian imploring him for another, any other, treatment. He hesitated (my heart stopped), then remembered some drops to use between the shoulder blades. I can do that!

He WhatsApped the prescription to me, and David & I headed back to the pharmacy.

I told the pharmacist I didn’t need the other medicine, just 2 boxes of these drops … explaining my botched attempt at cleverness. He said he has a cat, and nodded knowingly. Too kind to smirk to my face …

Hayden …

One by one, as kitties innocently returned for dinner, I grabbed the patient … assumed the position … quickly used two fingers to find a patch of skin … squirted … released. Each one did the what-the-heck-was-that-? jump/skid/run to the farthest part of the house.

The good news is that I didn’t get bitten or clawed.

P.S. The next day Allegra jumped on the bed, and settled into the down comforter. She started to purr … and as I petted her, she began kneading the imaginary biscuits.

WHITE CHOCOLATE-CINNAMON CUPCAKES

¾ cup plain yogurt
1–½ cups sugar
1 oz (2 Tbl.) milk
¾ cup oil
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1–½ cup flour
¾ cup cornstarch
2–½ tsp. baking powder
2 tsps. cinnamon
1/2 cup white chocolate chunks

- Put 12 paper or silicone liners into a muffin pan. Preheat the oven to 350° F (170° C).
- In a large bowl, mix yogurt and sugar until well blended. Slowly add the oil.
- Add eggs, one at a time.
- In a small bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Mix into wet ingredients, stirring until smooth.
- Stir in the white chocolate chunks.
- Spoon into liners.
- Bake for 15–18 minutes.
- Serve at any temperature.
Enjoy!

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Life … and cooking … in the Tuscan countryside.

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