Wednesday, October 15, 2008

How the Kracker Cats came to be, part 13: Having just found it, Kaboodle loses his tomhood

After my nerve-wracking flight through the deep freeze, I entered the house to find this strange scene taking place.

I hung up the phone and then went to bed. There in the Iñupiat Eskimo village of Kaktovik, the only community located within the boundaries of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), I dreamed about one of my children. I woke up, fell asleep, and dreamed about another child. I don't remember the order of the dreams, nor even the content, but each dream was about one child, and that child only. I had a dream for every single one.

Then I dreamed about Kaboodle.

A few days later, I chatted nervously with the Running Dog as we flew south. The temperature had been –29 F. at take-off, one degree shy of the floor beyond which I keep the Running Dog on the ground. The reported temperature at Fairbanks, where I planned to spend the night, was -16. As I flew over the Arctic Slope, my thermometer fell to -48 degrees. I knew that down on the ground, it would be even colder.

Fearing that my engine oil would chill and turn hard and cause my engine to burn up, I searched for a warmer layer of air. I contemplated the possibility of a forced landing out here on the tundra of the Arctic Slope, far from the things of people. I thought about my survival gear. I was not convinced it would be adequate for what I would face if I had to put the Running Dog on the ground.

But the engine did not burn. I found a layer of –26 degree air and I stayed in it until I reached Coldfoot, where I landed. The temperature was –36. I went into the café, ordered dinner, ate it and then, as darkness had set in, decided to spend the night.

When I woke up, the temperature was –44; fourteen degrees below my floor. But I knew that there would be warmer air a short distance above the ground, so I fired up my little Coleman stove, piped the hot air over the oil pan and up into the engine and when my oil grew warm enough to flow, I started the engine. I let the plane slowly warm up at a gradually increasing idle for two hours, then took off and headed home.

When I buzzed the house, I expected the kids to bounce out the door in the normal way, but only Toast Ed stepped out to wave at me. He climbed into the mini-van and drove off to pick me up at the airstrip, then brought me home.

I expected at least my girls to burst out the front door and run to greet me, but they did not.

No one did.

I was irritated and hurt.

I sneaked quietly into the house. The front room was dark, but I could see light coming from the hallway. Down that hall, I heard screaming and in it I recognized the horrified voices of my wife, my daughters, and two of my sons, plus a horrid, horrid, caterwauling and great commotion - thumping, bumping, thrashing sounds - coming from the bathroom.

I rushed in to see what was the matter. This is what I found:

Kaboodle was in the tub surrounded by the other members of my family. Rye had a bucket of almost hot water, which he was pouring over Kaboodle. Sunflower fought to hold him still. He was coated with lather from some kind of disinfectant soap. The vet had ordered a bath for the cat, for some reason I'm still unclear about. Other than the regular tongue lashings he gave himself, Kaboodle had never had a bath.

He looked tiny, skinny, like he was nothing but a wet bag of bones.

Now could Rye have ever thought he was pregnant?

Kaboodle was screaming, lashing out with his claws, striking nothing. Occasionally, he would break free and start lunging about, while everybody screamed and stumbled all over each other as they tried to grab him.

I tried to take some pictures, but, as Kaboodle sank a claw into Sunflower's hand, it quickly became obvious to me that he was overpowering everybody. I put my camera down, and grabbed Kaboodle by the nape of his neck and his lower back.

He hissed, meowed and screamed. He shot a claw slashing at thin air. I was amazed at the strength of the skinny, slippery, little thing. Even so, I felt like a dreadful bully, holding him down like that.

Holding tight to his neck, I let go of Kaboodle's back, grabbed the water, and rinsed him off, again and again.

Finally, the job done, I wrapped Kaboodle in a towel. I took him into the living room, and placed him by the woodstove, which roared against the chill of the night.

"Oh no!" Sunflower suddenly howled. "Look at his tail! The tip isn't white anymore! We washed the white right off his tail! I loved that white tip!"

"You can't wash the white tip off a cat's tail," I protested. "How could you do that?"

"I don't know, but look, it's gone!" she insisted. I looked. It was gone.

As Kaboodle dried out, the white tip gradually reappeared, fluffier and whiter than before.

I am still puzzled about that bath. We have since had several other cats neutered and no other vet ever ordered a bath.

Finally, Sunflower wrapped her arms around me. "Glad you're home, kid," she said as a shattered cat huddled between the wood stove and the stone firewall.

Less than 48 hours later, this cat went to the vet, and lost all hope of fathering any posterity - save any kittens he might have already snuck in, back when we worried he was out getting pregnant.

I will not describe his ordeal at the vet.

Suffice it to say that when the cat returned home, his confidence was shot. He wanted to do nothing but slink from hiding place to hiding place.

Finally, I got around to reading the informational paper the vet had sent home with us. It congratulated us for having had the wisdom to get our cat neutered. In just weeks, it noted, we would be thrilled to observe various aspects of "objectionable male behavior" disappear from our cat.

“Objectional male behavior?” Boy! Was I offended!

Poor Kaboodle! Afterward, he still loved us.


Zippy, Sadie and Speedy said...

Yeah, objectional male behaviour, like, spraying and urine marking, fighting, roaming and sometimes being a cranky, angry beast. In our case it also made him a snuggle hog, he just can't get enough lap time!

michico*Adan said...

Well, you can see my bath video,
I think someone is killing me!
Although I still love my beans,
but during the bath time,
I really nearly death you know?

Very very bad bath #1.:

Very Very bad bath #2:

I hope you enjoy the .... the show.....

Standtall said...

Kaboodle the snow cat. Kaboodle the pregnant male. Kaboodle the interesting cat.

I love his story!