I have spent the past 24 hours readying my kitties for possible evacuation, should Irma veer east. At last report, looks like the Charlotte cats are more likely to be squeezed into carriers for a trip to a school gym or armory.
I have two. Missy (formerly Hissy because she was so nasty) was an “everybody’s” when I moved into this apartment complex nine years ago. She begged successfully on many porches given her girth and cropped ear, signaling a spay job. She is skittish, terrified of strangers.
Lucky — velvet black — is the calmest animal I’ve ever known, with border collie intelligence and yellow Lab sweetness. He is friendly to all laps. Tenants who moved away just abandoned him. I fed him outside for six months, then opened the door. He walked in, and we’ve been best buds ever since. He and Missy are inseparable.
Well, I’m not going anywhere without them. So I’d better make plans.
I own one hard-sided carrier big enough for a Jack Russell but too unwieldy for even a ripped National Guardsman to hoist into a dingy. So I went to Walmart for two smaller, comfier versions.
They were practically sold out — but I did find a fabric model, sized medium. Medium what? I wondered. Not Missy. She couldn’t turn around in the thing, but it was OK for Lucky. I returned this morning to find a single plastic carrier, hardly visible on the top shelf, that looked much roomier. But it wasn’t assembled, and I wasn’t taking any chances.
Desperate times demand desperate measures. I waited for the pet department stock person to return — a nice man with shaved head and tattoos.
“Please sir, could you possibly assemble this for me? I really can’t tell if it’s big enough. And besides, look at my poor hands.” (I held them out, visibly arthritic.)
I’ll never wince at tattoos again. He did it, God bless. I wanted to hug him. Wasn’t easy, either, or quick. I stood guard for a manager who might disallow the service. Two carriers set me back $50, but at times like this, price is no object.
I’ve been stocking up on kitty food for days, because they like only two varieties of Meow Mix cups. So far, I’ve cleaned out the cat food shelves at Walmart and several supermarkets. Would you believe that the same one-serving cup costs 46 cents at Walmart and 79 cents at Lowes? Add a small bag of Fancy Feast kibble, too, to make up for the inconvenience.
I hardly noticed that everybody else was snatching up pallets of bottled water and loaves of bread while I was trolling for Meow Mix Real Chicken and Beef in Gravy.
Then, I lay awake all night worrying over the litter box. Carriers don’t come with commodes. Would trauma help them hold it in? I tore up a couple of old towels to line their carriers just in case.
But suppose Hissy/Missy threw a howling fit in a communal sleeping area lined with cots? Would we three be ejected into the stormy night? Even worse, suppose she dives under the bed at the first wind gust? I’d better close the bedroom door and sleep on the couch until evacuation is ordered.
Well, one way or another, their supply bag is packed, their carriers assembled, labeled and ready to go, if only to an inner room, mine being a small and windowless bathroom where my little family will await rescue, snuggled in the tub, flashlight batteries burning low, cellphone down, torrential rain pounding on the (hopefully) intact roof. I might even charge up that obsolete portable DVD player and have another go at “Downton Abbey.”
A dog is much easier in emergency situations. But I don’t have a dog. In fact, after a lifetime of rescues, I had retired from pet parenthood until these kitties literally showed up on my doorstep. So we will ride out the storm together, somewhere. Because they have given me six years of companionship, affection, laughs and column fodder. The right flavor Meow Mix and comfortable carriers are the least I can provide, in return.
Besides, you can’t even buy a decent pair of shoes for $50 these days.
Contact Deborah Salomon at debsalomon @nc.rr.com.