Friday, January 22, 2010

Crazy Ferret Lady

So, what happens when you take your typical Crazy Cat Lady and give her a ferret?

She sits next to me at the vet's office and makes me bat-crap crazy, that's what.

Scout visits the vet every four weeks now. A few weeks before Christmas, she gave us quite the scare and was diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease. Think Crohn's Disease, but feline. While we've been told that her disease is progressive and that she probably won't get much better, we're managing it with regular medication and steroid shots and she's relatively happy for now. She still enjoys playing with her fake mice and napping in front of Mom's new "Amish" fireplace, and what more can a nine-year-old cat ask for, really?

As I checked Scout in at the reception desk, earning a quiet hiss from inside the cat carrier for my efforts, a lady who had had her back to me until she heard Scout's protests turned around, holding something faintly rat-like.

"Whatchoo got in the carrier?" she said. Or at least I think that's what she said. The poor woman, one of those older women who dies her hair jet black and wears it long so as to make it impossible to tell if she's 50 or 90, had a speech impediment that made all her r's and l's sound like w's. Which is unfortunate if you want to introduce the entire vet's office to "Phywwis," your pet "fewwet."

I was introduced to Phyllis when she stuck the creature in my face, and I found myself suddenly nose-to-nose with a member of the weasel family.

"Have you evew seen one of these befowe?" she asked.

"Yes. Yes I have." I sighed. Encounters like this are nothing new to me; I regularly attract people outside of society's bell curve of normalcy. I just usually don't come so close to being bitten on the nose by these people's pets.

Our vet's office puts dogs and their people on one side of the waiting room, and cats and everything else on the other side. Since dogs usually come in on a leash, and cats and miscellaneous animals are usually penned up somehow, it makes sense. Otherwise, it could become a Tom and Jerry cartoon pretty fast.

What doesn't make sense is keeping your pet ferret out of its carrier and trying to introduce it to the cat you're sharing the waiting room with by putting the ferret's head right up next to the bars of the cat's carrier. I kept thinking that the last thing Scout needed was to get bit by a geriatric ferret (Crazy Ferret Lady kept telling me the ferret was 7, and I am guessing by the shabby condition the thing was in that that's pretty damn old for one of those things.) And then I started seeing in my mind how Scout likes to grab her extra large fake furry mouse by its throat and shake the hell out of it, and I prayed that the cat carrier was as good of a jail as it looked. Scout's eyes narrowed to green slits like a feline Disney villain.

"Wook at Phywwis's taiw!" said the crazy lady after introducing Phyllis to every human and animal in the office. "It's fwuffy! She must be ma-ad!"

I cannot imagine why.

For the next five minutes or so, I learned all kinds of interesting things about Crazy Ferret Lady. I eventually just started smiling and nodding and stopped listening and tried to maintain my personal space, but I did catch some key points. She has five cats at home, one of which is 13 years old and very fat; Phyllis has diabetes and gets her glucose tested at the vet's office every two weeks; she loves to look through the photo album of cats on our side of the waiting room and the picture of the cat with the beer can on its head cracks her up; and she loves to snuggle with her ferret on rainy days.

Oh, and she loves to let the ferret just run around on the floor of the waiting room. But she didn't need to tell me that. I could see that one for myself.

I don't know that I've ever been happier to hear Scout's name called to go back into an exam room.

I'm not trying to be mean. I'm really not. My heart goes out to this woman and her various pets.

I just wish it could have gone out to her from a distance, not while I had a ferret in my face.

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