Blood, Sweat and Claws*
Updated: Feb 19
We took our new barn cats to the vet for the first time last week. It was absolutely traumatizing.
Here’s the problem: They’re not stupid. They noticed the small changes — the new crate in the living room, the way we closed doors that were usually open. The way I didn’t feed them 3 times that morning. (Yes, I’m usually just a little bit way too much of a pushover, and I give them food every time they complain. I’m working on it.) They noticed it all. We could hear them whispering, “The ogres are up to something.”
More than anything else, I dreaded the moment when we had to put them in the crate. I knew they were going to hate it. In my mind, I kept seeing them cry and run away. Since they never had never let us pick them up, I was concerned about how to do it. As anyone raised with dogs knows, a cat’s refusal to enthusiastically beg for its ogre to do almost anything is a mystery. And cats are much smaller than Rottweilers. They could hide for days without us finding them.
So I started coming up with all sorts of machinations to make it work. And I enlisted my husband as co-conspirator.
This was the plan: Pick them up by the back of the neck, put a towel around them and tuck them into the crate like little baby sloths in cute little sloth sleeping bags that I had seen in Costa Rica some years ago. Perhaps this would have been a good time to note that sloths are animals that excrete only once a week because it takes them that long to climb down from their tree. Sloths will not fight back. Sloths in a sleeping bag stare and smile. But I digress. And while I digressed, I built up more anxiety over how this would work until finally the day arrived.
To my surprise, the first step worked like a charm. My husband picked the first one up by the back of the neck and I came over with the towel to cradle it. Fabulous. But the cat wiggled and struggled and hissed and was so much stronger than I had given her credit for. Then the towel slipped and the claws came out and it was every man for himself.
Four pints of blood later, we had two cats safely shoved into a crate with three towels, a clump of tissues and a wad of hair. Just don’t ask.
They cried most of the way to the vet, while we could barely get past our own stupidity. Our entire conversation was some version of this on repeat:
“What are we doing!”
“Why!!! Why did we think this was a good idea!”
“‘They’re never going to talk to us ever again.”
Once we got to the vet, though, magic came in. The vet was calm and quiet and gentle. She had clearly done this before. She spent time with them, comforted them, and when the time was right, she took them out of the cage one at a time for the exam. The cats were relaxed and quiet and acquiescent. No claws. And this gave me a chance to re-evaluate my diabolical schemes.
As I sat there watching the vet put the second cat back in the carrier, it dawned on me: I had just spent too much time and energy focusing on what I DIDN’T want. How much time is “too much” time focusing on what you don’t want? Any time at all.
This isn’t “think positive.” It’s “DON’T THINK AT ALL.” Because what you focus on, you create. When you’re in a negative emotional state, you are attuned like a radio to the negative emotion you are experiencing and you will only bring yourself more negativity, more events that are in that same vibration. So, worrying creates an outcome worth worrying about. When you’re in fear, you receive thoughts that produce more fear. If, when you’re in fear, you put your thoughts into action, you will get more fear-generating results back.
How does someone get around this? Stop thinking. Don’t think of an elephant as quickly as possible. And start focusing all your attention on FEELING what the perfect outcome would feel like. Feel it and allow that feeling to grow. Maybe even talk with someone you trust about it. In this way, you can deepen and heighten the feeling of having the perfect outcome. As you develop this positive energy, it is sent out in search of more positive outcomes.
You don’t have to know what that outcome might be. You don’t need to envision it.
Just feel it.
I’m quite sure the result will be better than how we handled the beginning of that day.
*Originally printed in the Redding Sentinel, Redding, CT, on September, 2022.