Karina-Jones was due her post-op check-up this afternoon at the Vets. Perhaps prematurely I was congratulating myself on getting her easily into her jazzy ‘travel’ zip-up carrier. There it was now, safe on rear seat of the car – the occasional mews of sadness & mild complaint emitting.
Three hundred meters down the road I fancy I can hear a zip being slowly, experimentally pulled, and sure enough – a few seconds later, she appears in the rear-view mirror. Grinning.
OK – “Be calm” I tell myself “Just drive slowly, and if there’s any sign of her getting toward the front, then pull over and pop her back into the box” – Easy.
At the first set of lights I swivel round and gaze rearward – nothing. No cat. She’s obviously climbed over into the hatch area. This is good news.
We (as I presume it’s still ‘we’) get to the vets. I need to tell you here that parking at this Vets is very close to a main road.
If I just open the rear-hatch now, a jumpy cat would be about one tiny metre away from a very busy road. So I gingerly open one of the rear doors, kneel on the rear seat, close the door behind me and try to see Karina.
Nothing. That’s weird.
Now OK, there’s a lot of stuff in the back – not yet cleared out from a summer’s boating, beaching and god knows what I imagined we’d be doing all Summer from the amount of equipment I carry. There is however, no matter how many items I carefully move and peer under – decidedly no cat.
“Ok” I think “I’m at the wrong angle” – I get out of the back, carefully close the door, and walk around to the rear hatch and open it about 3 centimetres, kneel down and check no animal is squatting there – pre-pounce to freedom.
Open door wider, scrabble about under items of summer, behind screen-wash top-ups, behind stack-and-store boxes full of emergency tools never ever needed.
Nothing. “My god I’ve lost her!” Against all logic – I’m feverishly trying to think if there’s a way out from the back of the car – maybe underneath?
Just like checking the same place a million times when you’ve lost something you KNOW you’ve checked this place but you can’t help yourself.
OK, there’s nothing for it. I lock the car doors and walk into the vet’s reception.
“HI! Steve Evans, and Karina – except I haven’t got Karina.” The young girl gives me an old-fashioned look. I try and explain, I fail, and we re-schedule the appointment.
Back outside I’m in one of those ‘I can’t believe this’ moods. What a waste of time and effort – I’m never gonna use that stupid travel cat jobby-thingy again. I roll a ciggy, lean against the front wing of the car and stare at nothing.
A movement attracts my attention. There is a cat, paws up against the rear window – she’s staring at me in a way that seems to ask “what shall we do together now Papa?”
I open the door, pick her up, pop her effortlessly into the carrier, zip it up (noticing en-route the Velcro zipper lock I’d completely failed to see the first time).
Now at this point it is maybe three minutes after I’d last been into reception, so I whiz back in – cat in bag, so pleased to have retrieved the situation.
A different girl is sat behind the desk, and she’s on the phone to someone who seems to prefer every phrase to be peppered with “you know” and “to be fair” before the conversation can progress.
Fifteen hours later she puts the phone down. I explain that I am no longer sans-cat. She peers at her computer monitor.
She presses a few keyboard keys, and looks up to gaze around reception for a few hours.
Apparently the ‘phone call was someone diving-in to take-up the cancelled appointment.
“Ah well thanks anyway.” Karina-Jones and I drive home.