On Friday, I bought flea control products for my dogs and my cat from the grocery store. These products are made by Sargeant’s, as opposed to Hartz. There was some controversy concerning the Hartz products…I think it involved killing some animals or allergic reactions or something…but my experience with Hartz products was that they simply didn’t work. So I have forever bought flea control medications from the vet, but financial considerations have rendered that impossible. So I’m ready to try anything. We’re in a desperate situation here in the Fakename household.
For the non-pet owners among you, this medication comes in a squeezable tube. You apply it by cutting off the tip, then squeezing onto to the top of the pet’s body, starting with the neck and moving downward. This is where the fun begins.
I’m pacing myself with this, treating one animal per day (one cat, three dogs). I started with the cat, which reminds me of a Time Management course I once took. The instructor had a tip for priortizing to-do lists, which was “Always do the shitty thing first”. I’ve never gotten better advice. Once you’ve gotten through that thing, the rest of your day is cake. Thus, the cat. More fun, however, than trying to apply this stuff to a cat, is reading the package directions.
First it tells you to open the tube (holding it away from your face and body), by tearing or cutting off the tip “at the notches”. This turns out to be impossible. The tube has a sort of nozzle, and the concept is to cut off the tip, but in this case, the notches don’t correspond to the point where the nozzle is open. So I found myself cutting further and further down, until finally I am at the very body of the tube. This creates a situation sort of like picking up a salt shaker in a restaurant, and just as you invert it over your food, the cap comes off. So now I am faced with pouring this stuff over my cat as opposed to squeezing it.
This actually is a kind of blessing. The squeezing part apparently generates a very unpleasant sensation for the cat, and as it gradually empties, it begins to make a sort of sucking sound. This is an indication to the cat that there are dragons inside the tube and they are about to eat him or her. It becomes clear to the cat that you are trying to kill it and are in cahoots with the dragons, all previous indications of love and care aside. When you’re a cat, your motto is the same as Agent Mulder on the X-Files “Trust No One”. When you’re a cat, you can never be too careful.
Part 2 of “How to Apply” says, “Holding the animal with one hand…” Wait. Animal? The package clearly states this product should only be used on cats, so what did they think I would be holding? A hedgehog? A goldfish? Could they have said, “Holding the cat with one hand…”? And they left out a step. That’s the step where you first dress in chain mail prior to attempting to hold a cat in one hand. The alternative to dressing in chain mail is administering anesthesia to the cat first.
I’m happy to report that we made it through the procedure just fine, no doubt due to the absence of sucking sounds and to the fact that my cat is a gentler and more trusting soul than most of her kind. I’m also happy to report that it worked, immediately. So one tiny little warm-blooded mammal body in the universe is temporarily flea-free.
But out there in the real world, there are armies of fleas and mosquitos lurking. May evolution (and chemistry) be unkind to them.