When Mama returned home after work, I was still trying to wrap my brain around this whole heaters and spades thing.
We all jumped up and ran to greet Mama at the door, and as usual she gave us all greetings and loving petties as soon as she put her bags down. But something weird happened when Mama reached down to stroke my back: Before I even knew what was happening, my tummy was on the floor, my back legs were in the air, and my tail swished to the side!
“Well, well, well,” Mama said. “I think it’s time to call Doctor Sarah and make an appointment to get you spayed!”
“Darn it, what’s a spade?” I cried.
“Aww, what a sweet kitty you are,” Mama cooed. “I love you, too.”
I walked away from Mama with my tail lashing — I was so frustrated!
But then the thrills of eating supper and spending the evening staying warm together on Mama’s lap and then curling up all together under the blankets made me forget all about what had been bothering me.
The next day, after we finished our supper, Mama called me. I ran right over to her and jumped up in her lap because I knew it was time for some special love. Once I’d settled down and was purring my contentment, Mama said, “Dahlia, I’ve got something to tell you: You’re going to go see Doctor Sarah next week, and you’re going to get spayed.”
“Will you please tell me what a spade is?” I begged, rubbing my cheek against her hand.
“Spaying is a special operation that makes it so you can’t have kittens,” she said. “I’m going to have to drop you off at Doctor Sarah’s office in the morning. They’ll make you go to sleep for a little while and when you wake up you’ll be a little bit sore, but you’ll be all better soon.”
“Hmm, I don’t know about this,” I said. “It doesn’t sound like much fun.”
Of course, being a foolish kitten, I once again forgot about this conversation and any fears I had about spades. It wasn’t until Mama brought out the portable kitty prison one evening that I began to have the hazy recollection of some kind of talk we’d had about spades and sleeps and Doctor Sarah.
Then the next morning she wouldn’t let me eat breakfast or drink any water! I was so sad! What had I done to deserve this privation?
Well, things didn’t get any better after she tossed me in the prison and slammed the door shut behind me. Even though Mama tried to console me and tell me what a brave girl I am, I still cried all the way to Doctor Sarah’s office. By the time Mama dropped me off, she was ready to cry, too. “You be good, sweetheart,” she said, stroking my side through the bars of my prison. “I’ll be back to get you first thing tomorrow.”
“Don’t worry, we’ll take good care of her,” said the receptionist lady as she picked up my carrier, brought me into the bowels of the hospital, and handed me off to another lady. The smells of chemicals and dogs and Other Cats wafted around me. In a small room, the lady opened my portable prison; I stuck my head out and looked around to make sure there were no dogs there before I left my safe space. The lady cooed at me as she drew up some white stuff into a syringe, then she opened the door and said, “Sarah, Dahlia’s ready.”
“Hi there, Dahlia,” Doctor Sarah said, rubbing my cheek. “It’s your big day today!”
I purred and rubbed my head against her hand.
“Aw, you’re such a sweetie,” she said as the other lady picked me up and turned me around to face Doctor Sarah. Then Doctor Sarah stuck that awful needle and syringe full of white stuff right in my front leg! Before I could protest, I got so sleepy ….
… and then I opened my eyes. My mouth was terribly dry and my throat hurt. I really wanted a drink, so I raised my head and looked around for a water dish … and everything started spinning!
With a squeak, I laid my head back on the cage floor in hopes that the world would stop flying around me. I heaved, but there was nothing in my stomach except … a giant, gaping, throbbing, ache!
I gasped. “My tummy hurts!” I wailed.
“Mine too!” another voice cried from the cage next door.
“My baaaawwwls! My baaaaawwwwls! Oh, my baaaaaaaaaaawwwwls!” came a pitiful moan from the cage on the other side of mine.
“Oh, be quiet, Frank!” snapped a distinctly dog-like voice from below. “The rest of us would like to get some sleep, if you don’t mind.”
“But … but … my ba …”
“Shut your hole,” the dog said. “You know as well as I do that the Shelter People brought us here to get Fixed so we’d be able to find forever homes.”
“You came from the Shelter?” I asked. “I’m a shelter kitty, too. Mama adopted me when the leaves were starting to turn orange. By the way, my name is Dahlia. And I feel awful!”
“I’m Sadie,” the dog said. “And the cat that isn’t whining about missing balls is Ashley. I know it hurts right now, but it’ll get better soon. See? Here comes the nice vet nurse lady. She’ll give you some medicine and you’ll be okay right quick.”
Sadie was right. The lady put some more stuff into my leg and the pain faded into a distant memory. Between the comfort of numbness and the familiar smell of the purple pillowcase Mama had left with me, I started to feel a little better. By late that evening, I even took a bite of my food. And Frank, too, had drifted off to sleep — much to my relief.
When I woke up the next morning, my tummy was still pretty sore, but I felt hungry when the vet nurse lady put some food in my dish.
And then, just as I started to wash my face after breakfast, I heard Mama’s voice! “Mama!” I cried. “Oh, Mama!”
The nurse lady came back, took me out of my cage, and gently laid me in my carrier. She tucked my special pillowcase next to me and closed the door. “Bye, Sadie and Frank and Ashley. I hope you find forever homes really soon,” I said as the lady carried me out to the waiting room.
“Oh, Dahlia,” Mama said, sticking her fingers through the bars of my prison. “I’m so happy to see you, sweetheart!” Her eyes leaked just a little bit. “It was so weird without you on the bed last night.”
“But you get me all to yourself today, because you get to come to work with me.”
I was too tired and sore to cry as the car moved down the bumpy roads, as Mama carried me through the cold air from the parking lot to her office building, and as my portable prison bounced around while Mama carried me up four flights of stairs.
When we finally stopped moving and Mama opened the cage door, I stepped gingerly out, doing my best to guard my sore tummy. Then Mama gave me the gentlest and kindest hug and kiss, and my heart just about burst with love and joy. I knew everything was going to be OK!