Recently, I went to the emergency room for acute cat poisoning. A neighborhood cat betrayed my trust mightily, acting like we were best friends, before sinking its fangs into my hand. I’m not familiar with cats, but I’ve conducted some polls since the attack and apparently they pull this kind of shit all the time.
The cat in question didn’t have a collar. Post-bite, I read a few things about rabies (if you get it, the next step is almost certain death) and decided I needed to go to the emergency room. The medical professionals at Breckenridge Emergency gave me a tetanus shot and a prescription for antibiotics, to prevent cat-scratch fever (also deadly).
While I was waiting for my shot, I could make out only the infuriatingly terrifying bits of the nurses’ conversation with the doctor: “Cat scratch…horrible…cats…disease…infection….horrible…die…nasty…death.” The doctor told me, before getting rabies shots, that I should look at the Center for Disease Control’s website for more information about the extreme unlikelihood of a rabies infection.
Was the cat acting strange? I don’t know cats very well, so I thought, “Yeah! It was acting like it was my friend, and then it acted like it wasn’t my friend!” Again, I know now that I’m revealing my profound cat-ignorance. The doctor told me he wouldn’t tell me not to get shots, but he would tell me that once a cat bit him, and he didn’t bother to get rabies shots. Hint, hint. He told me if I could find the cat, I should should turn it over to animal control for observation. If the cat lasted 10 days, they would know it was clean, because rabies is a super fast cat-killer. Then I could avoid all the trouble of getting shots.
When I decided to leave without a rabies shot, the nurse seemed not to share the doctor’s aplomb. “If you can’t find the cat, come back and get the shot, because rabies WILL KILL YOU.”
“Ok, but how big a needle are we talking?”
“It’s not…a small needle.”
I decided to sleep on it. I returned to Max’s house the next day, patrolling the streets from the safety of my car, armed with a laundry basket I planned to use as a cat trap. Here is the prize-winning, paranoid gem I came up with on my cat search: What if I catch what I think was the cat bit me, but really the cat that bit me was its evil identical twin, brimming with rabies? Likelihood: Nil. Or, as I like to call it, Extremely Likely.
So I gave up the hunt and went to get rabies shots. One in the arm, one in the thigh, one in each of the tooth punctures, and one in each of my supple double cheeseburgers. “You can just pull out one cheek at a time,” said the kindly nurse.
The nurses hinted that I should call animal control and file a report, which I did. Pretty soon professional cat-trappers set up cat traps near Max’s porch. Apparently, one of the cat hostage specialists asked Max’s roommate if he had seen a cat matching the description I gave in my official statement. Max’s roommate identified it as his neighbor’s cat, an animal whose modus operandi is well known in the area. The cat would have to be quarantined, the animal control person said. You would think they would ask me to identify the subject, maybe see how I did with a lineup of similar-looking cats. Really, remarkably spotty investigation.
Feeling extremely regretful of my hasty hysteria, I drove to the animal control center at a high rate of speed (they don’t have a direct phone number, because they think they’re the CIA or something) and pleaded with the authorities to not imprison the cat. The owner had confirmed it was indeed up to date with its rabies shots, and I was already getting rabies shots, so what’s the problem? “It’s a state law. If the animal breaks the skin, they have to be quarantined.” “So the only way to avoid this would have been to not file a report?” “Yep!” (Followed by maniacal, high-pitched laughter. Perhaps predictably, not great people-skills.) I apologized to the cat owner and offered to pay for the cat’s quarantine expenses. She refused my offer and acted really cool about the whole thing.
Is it obvious that I should have questioned Max’s roommate about the cat before I went around demanding to be jabbed with hypodermic needles and making frantic phone calls to the authorities? Yes. Does the way I phrased that sentence make it sound like I’m going to ask another question? Maybe. I’m unpredictable! Which, by the way, is a symptom of rabies.
Shortly after this whole unhappy episode, I was getting some air after a heated indie film screening Q&A, when I noticed some graffiti.
Real cute, universe.