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The art of extracting cat from carrier


It took three of us to help Mr. Hamerswing bring his cats in from the car. That's because Porky and Jumbo were riding in their brand-new, homemade cat carrier.

It took three of us to help Mr. Hamerswing bring his cats in from the car. That's because Porky and Jumbo were riding in their brand-new, homemade cat carrier.

When did he go wrong?

It was quite a contraption. The 1-inch-thick walls were supported by a frame of 2-by-4s. With the two heavyweights inside this boat, it weighed more than 80 pounds.

The box measured exactly 2 feet in each direction. The spacious 8-cubic-foot interior was accessible only through a door that was almost 6 inches wide. The hinges on that door looked like they would have done nicely for a bank vault.

Mr. Hamerswing proudly opened his creation, and Jumbo stuck his head out. It barely fit. I couldn't see how the rest of the cat would squeeze through. Just for fun I asked; "What did you do, build it around them?"

"Don't worry, Doc," was his reply. "They can squeeze through just fine."

We did get the cats out with very little trouble, although each one left plenty of fur on the sides of the opening.

Even though Porky and Jumbo were scheduled to stay for the day, Mr. H didn't want to leave his masterpiece with us while they were hospitalized. This left me with another question: "How come you don't want to leave it with us today? Is the bomb squad waiting to borrow it?"

Thankfully, without the cats inside, it only took three people to carry it to his car. You and I have seen many contraptions much like it. In fact, we've seen cats arrive in everything from urine-soaked cardboard boxes reinforced with miles of duct tape to fancy, posh, Mercedes-like traveling pods. They all have two things in common: The owner has no clue how to get the cat out or, for that matter, how to get the cat in.

Mrs. Tippit thinks the best thing to do is tilt the carrier and let her cat, Mr. Velcro, slide out. She lifts the back of the box about an inch, and then is surprised when Mr. V. fails to come shooting out. The angle that she produces would not be sufficient even if the carrier was full of snow and the cat had skis on. The two pillows and the teddy bear that she stuffed in there didn't help, either.

Mr. Traction uses a different system. He wisely deduces that pulling the towel out of the carrier will bring the cat with it. He then is surprised when his cat, Aladdin, fails to come riding out on the magic carpet. He does manage to produce, however, a bushel of catnip and the half-can of mackerel that he put in there to get Aladdin into the box at home.

Mr. Trauma is the worst of these three. He picks up the carrier, rotates it 90 degrees and shakes it. Lots of things come out that way, but his cat, Klinger, is rarely one of them, although the cat does manage to launch a few missiles in our direction.

(This brings to mind one of our favorite hospital jokes. Question: "What kind of missile was it?" Answer: "I.C.B.M.")

Personally, I have great luck using what I call the lawnmower method. (Sometimes known as the outboard-motor method.) It works like this: I reach into the carrier and grab the cat. (Gloves are optional.) Then I pull him out, using the same motion it takes to start up a Lawn-Boy (or Evinrude, if you prefer).

Getting one of our feline patients into the carrier is an entirely different matter. Most of the time, they run right back in when it's time to go home. For those few who don't, the lawnmower method works just fine in reverse.

However, there is the rare instance when you run into a very reluctant patient who also happens to have homicidal tendencies. In that case, I recommend the motorcycle method, otherwise dubbed the kick-start method (no explanation necessary).

Michael A. Obenski

Dr. Obenski owns Allentown Clinic for Cats in Allentown, Pa.

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