13

Feral Purrfessional – Part 3

Image result for medical cat

Where we are: Katie Kitty has been given a scholarship to Mid-America Animal Tech. She plans to become a Feral Purrfessional to provide medical care to the feral cat population. She has arrived at the school with her mother and sister Charlene. They have just met Katie’s roommate Elise and her father Edgar. Read the beginning of the story here and Part 2 here.

Elise: We start tomorrow. Let’s go see where everything is.

Katie: Great idea! I think the labs are across the street. And the lecture rooms are the next building over.

Charlene: That way you guys can’t blow up everything at the same time.

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Katie: Thanks, Char. We really appreciate your support.

Katie looks at her mother and Edgar.

Katie: Are you coming, Mama?

Mama: I don’t know. I might be more frightened than ever about leaving you here.

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Edgar: Let’s go with them, Mrs. Kitty. That way you can see how safe it is.

Mama: Please call me Rose. No one calls me Mrs. Kitty. It sounds so strange.

Edgar: All right, Rose. I can explain what things are. It will make you feel better.

Rose: I guess that’s a good idea.

The girls race ahead chattering about how much fun they are going to have. Rose and Edgar follow close behind. There is a puma guard at the door to the labs.

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Guard: I’m sorry, but you’re not allowed in the building until tomorrow when classes start.

Edgar pulls out an identification card.

Edgar: It’s OK. I’m Edgar Khatt, Anatomy Purrfessor.

Guard: I’m sorry, Purrfessor. I’m new to the building. Please go ahead.

They enter the building, and Katie looks at Elise.

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Katie: Your dad works here?

Elise: Yeah. I don’t like to tell people. They think he got me in the program.

Edgar: Don’t worry, Katie. She won’t get more help than anyone else. I have an assistant who does the grading.

Katie: That’s pawsome, Purrfessor Khatt! I already know one of my teachers.

Edgar laughs.

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Edgar: That’s the spirit, Katie.

Rose: You mean you’ll see Katie every day, Edgar?

Edgar: Not every day. But several times a week.

Rose: I’m so glad to hear that. You don’t seem scary at all.

Edgar laughs again.

Edgar: Well, I’m glad to hear that. Here’s my lab.

He opens the door and turns on the light.

Charlene (startled): There are dead cats in here.

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Rose (terrified): You’re going to make them kill cats?

Edgar: Of course not. These are models, not real cats. We need the students to learn all of the bones and such so they can help others.

Rose (relaxing): Oh, of course. That makes sense.

Katie: Look, Mama. This one opens up to show the muscles.

Charlene: And this one has bones.

Elise: And they have real cats come in to show how the parts work for walking and jumping and other things.

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Katie: I can’t wait!

Rose: Well, I guess this isn’t too bad. What about the other classes?

Edgar: The students are very closely supervised. Some of the skills are practiced on each other, like weight and length.

Rose: How do you know when they’re ready to graduate?

Edgar: It’s a two-year program. Then the students work in our clinic for 3 months to practice their skills.

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Rose (hesitantly): Well, it does sound like a good program. Do you think she’ll be safe here?

Katie: Mama! Stop asking so many questions. You’re embarrassing me.

Edgar: It’s OK, Katie. (Turning to Rose) It’s very safe here. We’ve never had a problem with any of our students. All of the buildings are locked at night, and guards patrol the campus.

Rose: Thank you, Edgar. I feel much better.

Edgar: I’m glad to hear it.

The girls have been examining all of the models and displays. Katie and Elise seem to be bonding. Charlene still thinks some of the models are real cats.

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Edgar: Anybody interested in an anchovy and tuna pizza? I know a great place.

They walk to the restaurant and find a table. Katie and Elise talk nonstop about classes, books, shopping, and room decorations. The others mainly listen. Finally, they walk back to the dorm.

Edgar: How long are you staying, Rose?

Rose: We’re going to sleep here tonight and catch the train in the morning.

Edgar (disappointed): I was hoping to show you more of the town. At least let me take you to the station in the morning.

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Rose: That’s very kind of you.

Early the next morning Edgar picks up Rose and Charlene.

Rose: I want to thank you again. I feel so much better about Katie staying here. I’m going to miss her, but I won’t worry so much.

Edgar: If you’d like, I can call once in a while to let you know how she’s doing.

Rose: That would be wonderful. Here’s my number.

Charlene: There’s our train. We have to go.

Rose and Edgar purr.

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We will be taking a break next week for Cat Forum: Surviving Back to School. Then we will find out how things work out for Katie and Rose.

All pictures courtesy of Google Images

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21

Feral Purrfessional – Part 2

Image result for cat in lab coat

Where we are: Katie Kitty has been given a scholarship to Mid-America Animal Tech. She plans to become a Feral Purrfessional to provide medical care to the feral cat population. Her mother is uncomfortable with Katie being so far from home. Read the first part of the story here.

Katie: Mama, did you get the train tickets to school?

Mama: Yes, I did. I bought three – you, me, and Charlene. We leave at seven tomorrow morning. We won’t get there until the middle of the afternoon. I really don’t like how far away it is.

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Katie: The train takes longer than driving, because it stops. I think you’ll really like it.

Mama doesn’t seem convinced. The next morning the three Kitties arrive at the depot. Katie has been so excited that she hadn’t noticed how many bags her mother brought with her.

Katie: Mama, why are you bring so much stuff? I think you have more than I do! Are you planning to stay?

Charlene: Of course, we’re staying overnight. We can’t see anything if we don’t leave the train station.

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Katie: Good point. But you only have one bag. Mama has (counting) six. What is all that stuff?

Mama: I brought snacks for the train. And towels and personal items in case you forgot anything.

Katie groans.

Mama: And I brought some of those special salmon cakes you like, in case you get hungry at school.

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Katie: Mama, they have a cafeteria.

Mama: I know, but you might not like the food. And I brought extra school supplies. Just in case. And your stuffed mouse. And your favorite pillow.

Katie: Mama! I don’t need all that stuff! You’re going to embarrass me.

Mama (hurt): I just thought you might miss home and want some special things to help you adjust.

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Mama starts to cry.

Mama: I’m just so upset to have you moving out. You’re my baby, and I want you to be safe and happy.

Charlene glares at Katie.

Charlene: Can’t you just be nice? We all know how excited you are, but you are leaving home. Besides, someone will eat the stuff. Mama’s a wonderful cook. And you probably did forget things. You are pretty scatter-brained sometimes.

Katie: I guess you’re right. I do always seem to forget something.

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Turns to Mama and hugs her.

Katie: I’m sorry, Mama. It sure looks like you went through a lot of work for me.

Mama: It wasn’t any trouble.

They take their seats on the train. They weren’t too far out of the station before they were all curled up asleep. It seemed like no time before they heard the conductor calling their stop.

Katie: See, Mama? That wasn’t so bad.

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Charlene: It’s pretty here. It doesn’t even really look like a city. All the trees and flowers.

Mama: You’re right Charlene. It’s much prettier than I expected.

Katie: We need to find the shuttle to the campus.

She looks around and sees a van marked “Mid-America Animal Tech”. They find three empty seats. Ten minutes later, they stopped at a building with a sign that says, “Feral Purrfessional Dormitory and Lab.” Katie bounces up.

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Katie: This is it! My home away from home. Hurry!

Katie runs up the steps to the building. By the time Mama and Charlene have gathered everything together and get in the door, Katie has her room key and a set of house rules.

Katie: Hurry up! I’m on the second floor.

They follow her, carrying the bags. As Katie struggles to open the door, it’s pulled open by a handsome tom.

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Tom (laughing): You must be Katie; Elise’s new roommate. There’s Elise over on the bed.

Katie and Elise look each other over, rub heads, and begin to chatter. Meanwhile, Mama and Charlene appear at the door out of breath.

Tom: My goodness! Are you Katie’s sisters? And what’s in all those bags? Let me get them from you.

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Mama Kitty blushes.

Mama: No. I’m Katie’s mother and this is her sister Charlene.

Tom: My name is Edgar and I am Elise’s father. Unfortunately, her mother died in an accident, so I’m playing Mom today.

Mama: That’s so sweet.

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Edgar: What is in all those bags you were carrying? It smells delicious.

Mama: Those are salmon cakes I made for Katie, but she says she doesn’t want them. Would you like one?

Edgar: That would be purr-fect. I’m starving.

Mama gets out the salmon cakes and prepares a plate for Edgar. They are talking and don’t notice the younger cats watching them.

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Next week: Conclusion. Will Mama Kitty be comfortable leaving Katie at school?

Pictures courtesy of Google Images

 

11

I Don’t Remember it Like That

We dropped our daughter off at college last Sunday. I’d always heard that it would be like a flashback to my own college days. I guess you could call it that.

She is going to a much smaller place than I did. There was no mistaking where you were going at the University of Michigan. Or when you got there. Or the thousands of people around wherever you wanted to be.

This place is in a residential area not far from where I grew up. There is no real signage except on the freeway right below. The freeway that has been closed for construction for the summer and will be until November.

No problem, right? You grew up there. True enough. We found the school with no trouble. And a parking lot. Was it the right parking lot? It had to be – it was the only one near the dorm. Yep – one parking lot, one dorm. No rushing memories yet.

We went inside. While she registered, we sat on a sofa. There were a few other kids filling out paperwork. No pandemonium. No feeling of being lost in a crowd. Hmmmmm. I was channeling high school more than college.

But wait. Something did feel familiar. Ahhh – a large building in the late summer with no air conditioning. The strange mustiness of a building that has been unoccupied for several months and is now full of sweating people.

Paperwork done, we went to the third floor. Where she had to talk to another person. She got a checklist for the current room condition. Once she filled out the form, she could have her key. I just had to identify myself and get a key. One point for large bureaucracy.

We went down the hallway and found her room. The girl at the end of the hall said it was open. It was not. Luckily her roommate was on the other side of the closed door. As we waited at the door, I noticed the girls in the room across the hall watching us. Open doors, people watching. That’s familiar. A little creepy, but familiar.

The room looks a lot like the one I had. But smaller. Dorm rooms are not known for their spaciousness, but this was the smallest double I had seen at any school. I swear that the girls could lay on their beds, hold out their arms and touch each other. I thought private schools were supposed to be more luxurious than the public ones. I guess this is part of the reason hers isn’t particularly expensive.

The roommate did remind me of some of the girls I knew in the dorm. Very sweet. And very aware of the strategic advantages of being the first to the room. Her side of the room was totally decorated. She had two rugs which covered two-thirds of the room. (In her defense, I don’t think they make rugs for half a room that size.)

The closets are on her side of the room, next to each other. Next to her desk. She took the one that is closest to my daughter’s side. It’s more easily accessible. The sink is on my daughter’s side. She took all the jewelry hooks she needed.

Actually I understand all of that. Don’t appreciate it. But I understand. The girl has never shared space with a stranger before. She doesn’t realize that parents can turn feral in defense of their offspring.

But that wasn’t the strangest part. Trying to make conversation, I asked about pictures she had pinned up of a dog and a bunny. I knew the dog was her pet. What about the bunny? She said they owned a rabbit farm. Some rabbits were pets and some were for sale.

This one? He was for sale. You have a picture of a rabbit you ate? Yes. That’s strange. OK, he can be a pet. So you are a little sick putting up a picture of a meal-to-be or you think you can freak me out by telling me your family raises rabbits for sale. Either way, I’m glad I’m not your mother.

We finally brought the stuff up. In the hot, humid weather. They had handcarts, but most of the people didn’t bother to take them back down when they were done. So it was an obstacle course. Did I mention the hallways were also strangely narrow for a dorm?

Downstairs I held a door open for a couple of guys with a sofa. It was the second one they brought in. Some of the people in my dorm built lofts for their beds and used the room as social space. With the size of the rooms and the size of the sofas, I’m guessing these guys have a very intimate social circle.

Sweaty guys. Tired, frustrated parents. Embarrassed, nervous students. They were right. It was beginning to remind me of college.