Chill Out, Kitty!

Janet Coburn
3 min readApr 30, 2023

My husband’s big orange-striped cat, Matches, was so chill that Dan once put the creature into an empty birdcage and hung it from the ceiling. Amazingly, the cat voiced no objections. He just looked around calmly from his unique new vantage point.

Not many cats are that agreeable about being put in a cage — especially when it signals a trip to the vet. Even the cardboard boxes that pass as pet carriers are useless. Just try to put a cat in one and you have a (Your State’s Name Here) Chainsaw Massacre. And cardboard carriers aren’t designed to stand up to a massacre.

We had a black-and-white cat named Shaker, who started with one fang hooked into an air hole in the cardboard carrier and demolished the entire thing until it was a pile of Shredded Wheat. We had to drive the rest of the way to the vet with one revved-up, pissed-off cat. For later visits, we just let her sit on my lap while we drove and while sitting in the waiting room. While we waited, Shaker hopped off my lap and made a break for it. She waddled (she was chubby, okay?) as fast as her little white feet would carry her toward the door. She just hadn’t counted on it being glass. She bonked her head against it and while she was stunned, I scooped her up.

Another cat, Julia, was okay with going to the vet. It was what they did to her there that she objected to. The vet tried to demonstrate to us the proper way to give a cat a pill or liquid medicine. Julia went into her act. She demonstrated her own little invention — projectile drooling. Soon the exam room was dappled with gooey patches of sticky saliva. And so were we, when we tried it at home.

A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook that her cat, known as Mrs. Bompstample (I may have spelled that wrong), had been voted the second-worst cat at their vet’s office. And that was despite Mrs. B. being sedated before she came. I don’t even want to contemplate what the worst cat was like. There was a note on its cage that said, “Do not open!” which probably made it difficult to treat the cat. (Personally, I think most vets coat their hands with a Valium salve that is absorbed through the animals’ fur, which is why vets don’t shake hands with pet owners. Although maybe they should in some cases. But I digress.)

We’ve never had a cat that needed Valium to go to the vet, though we have had cats be naughty. One jumped off the examining table and holed up between it and the wall. We had to get down on our hands and knees to coax her out (something we couldn’t do now). Well, and Drooly Julie can’t strictly be said to have been on her best behavior. Django once scratched my face and various other cats have bitten me. Once it was so bad that I had to ask the vet to treat me too.

Matches, of course, was so chill at the vet that he should have worn shades. He loved riding in the car and never had to be put in a box. Maybe that was why he was so cool.



Janet Coburn

Author of Bipolar Me and Bipolar Us, Janet Coburn is a writer, editor, and blogger at and