Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Taking Your Work Home With You

One of the joys of being responsible for Clouder Number Nine and being married to the Chief Vet at MEOW, was that when one of the cats, in this case Nala, was sick or injured and needed around the clock care they came to the MacDougal home to be nursed. Nala had been in the emergency ward, too sick to be moved for a week, but now that she was on the mend, she could commute with Angus so that Liz or one of her assistants didn't need to sleep at headquarters to care for her.. There was a more technical name for what Nala had but as far as Angus was concerned it just meant she had to be fed through a feeding tube every three hours and that was all he needed to know. If anyone wanted further details, they could go talk to Liz.

Angus didn't really mind. All that much. Nala was a very affectionate cat, most of the time, when she was off duty. After the first attempt or two to take revenge on him for treating her like a cat and not the highly trained operative she was. For example, when Angus finally had a chance to sit down and catch up on the rugby matches, Nala was content to sit on his lap and sleep and purr. It was rather relaxing listening to the purr and watch Scotland win a match and so Angus dozed for a bit. Then his watch alarm went off and startled both him and the feline on his lap. Unfortunately for him, Nala was trained to react to startling with claws out and as she was on his lap, so he was subjected to the indignity of scratches where scratches should not be. He let out a shout which brought Liz into the parlor from the kitchen.

“What is it?” she asked.

“The cat,” Angus growled as he picked her up by the middle and held her out to Liz. “Take the cat.”

Liz came over and took the cat from her husband. She cradled the cat to her and petted her into purring, murmuring sweet nothings to the feline.

“It's time for you to be fed,” Liz said as she carried Nala into the bathroom.

Liz sat on the edge of the bath tub and arranged the syringes of warm water and warm liquid food. She then arranged the cat in a towel to keep the claws from scratching her. Angus slipped in and closed the door behind him. Nala might understand what was going on but she was still cat enough not to want the humans to do to her what they needed to. She would bolt if she got the chance and they weren't going to let her have a chance.

Liz removed the feeding tube's cap and started giving the cat some of the water. Nala sat and allowed the indignity while plotting revenge. Projectile vomit, she hadn't tried that one in a while. Right as the humans are about to sleep. That would convey the right amount of contempt for this indignity.

Angus lifted his kilt to inspect the damage that cat claws had done. He drew in a breath. That cat had it in for him.

“That bad?” Liz asked as she swapped the water for food and continued feeding Nala.

“Och, no,” Angus said. “It's not bad just the placement. A couple more inches and I'd be singing like a lass for a few days.”

Liz giggled. Angus took out the disinfectant and cleaned the shallow cuts. Cats could get all sorts of nasty germs on their claws and it was best to clean the cuts as soon as possible.

Just then, Liz's phone rang. She stood up and handed the cat and the syringe of food to Angus.

“I have to get that,” Liz said. “That's the emergency tone. You'll have to feed her.”

She slipped out of the bathroom, leaving Nala to Angus. He looked down at the towel wrapped cat and tried to get a better grip on the feline but she wiggled out of his grasp. He chased her around the bathroom for a minute before finally throwing the towel on her. He whipped the towel around Nala and got a firm grip on her and carried her back to the bathtub. He sat on the edge of the tub and picked up the syringe and placed it in the feeding tube. He carefully pushed a few cubic centimeters of food into the feeding tube. That went well, so he pushed a few more CC’s. He petted the cat. She looked up at him and he swore he saw a mischievous grin on the cat's face. He ignored the implications and pushed a few more C’s of food into the tube.

Nala eased her head out of Angus's grip and smiled at him. She let him get a bit more food into her. She was rather hungry and the few stray bits of kibble she'd managed to eat earlier weren't going to give her enough energy to take her revenge. She bided her time. The food syringe was empty. Now was the time before he could get the water to flush the feeding tube. Nala shook her head and neck spraying the nasty smelling liquid food everywhere.

“Cat!!” Angus sputtered. Dang it. Some of the vile cat food ended up in his mouth.

Nala wriggled out of the towel again and ran away. She wormed her way into her favorite hiding spot – the small space behind the commode by the wall in the corner. Angus could reach her but it would be tricky to get a good grip. She knew that the feeding tube was good for her and that she needed the food, but it still hurt her catly pride to be fed in such a manner. What she couldn't forgive Angus for was that he forgot she was intelligent and treated her like she had no idea what was going on. Liz remembered it, most of the time, but Angus treated her like a … cat.

“Och, you wee beastie,” Angus sputtered and he rinsed out his mouth. If he was alone he'd let Nala sulk, but Liz had pressed upon him the importance of not letting the feeding tube get plugged with dried food, so he had to chase her down and use the water to flush it. He knew where she'd go to hide and sure enough there was a gray fur ball curled in the corner of the bathroom behind the commode.

Liz walked in to see her husband sitting on the floor trying to reach for the cat and getting his fingers snapped at for his trouble.

“Let me guess,” she said as she closed the door behind her. “You treated her like a cat and not an intelligent, rational being.”

“She is a cat,” he insisted.

“Aye, she is,” Liz agreed. “But she's also a highly trained spy. You know that. In the field you trust her with the security of this nation and your life, so why do you insist on forgetting that once back at headquarters or here?”

Angus looked a bit ashamed at that but before he could reply Liz continued speaking.

“Anyway, I've got to go back to HQ, Clouder 2 came back with injuries and I'm needed for surgery.” Liz walked over and pecked him on the lips. “I don't know when I'll be back. If it's too late, I'll sleep at the office.” With that, she left him to deal with Nala.

Angus looked at the feline and thought about what his wife had told him. He knew Nala was intelligent. He'd worked with her for the last couple years and they had saved each others' lives a couple times. But some how in their off hours he had focused more on the Cat part of her than the Spy part.

“Lassie,” Angus began. “I'm verra sorry. I forget that you know what's going on and that I should trust you to be reasonable.” He reached a hand out to her and she uncurled a bit. “I may forget sometimes, but I promise to try to remember that you are intelligent and not treat you like a dumb animal.” Her head peaked up. “Will ye forgive me?” Nala nodded. She stuck out a paw and he shook it. “Now will ye let me flush your feeding tube so it doesna clog up and cause problems?”

Nala stood and walked back towards the tub. Angus sat down on the edge, holding the syringe. The cat jumped up on his lap and looked up at him. He put the syringe in the tube and pushed a bit of water. Nala sat down on his lap and let him do what needed to be done. When the water was gone, Angus removed the syringe and replaced the cap.

He cleaned up the supplies and put them away, ready for the next feeding, which would be in a couple hours.

“All right, Nala,” he addressed the cat. “Shall we go finish watching that match?”

Nala looked up at him and purred. He opened the door and followed the cat out to the parlor. They made themselves comfortable and watched the match. Then when it was time to feed Nala again, things went much better with Angus treating her like any other colleague he'd nurse. Then both human and cat got ready for bed. As Liz wasn't home yet, Angus didn't mind when Nala burrowed under the covers next to him.

It was just after midnight, when Liz slipped into the bedroom. Angus woke and watched her as she got ready for bed. She lifted the covers to slide in next to him but he stopped her.

“Careful,” he said. “You donna want to squish the wee lassie.”

“Where is she?” Liz asked.

“Under the covers next to my knee on your side of the bed,” Angus answered.

Nala, as if sensing they were talking about her, shifted in her sleep. This brought her whiskers into contact with the backside of his bare knee. The touch was light and tickled him. Angus let out an unmanly giggle at being tickled.

“I'll move her,” Liz said as she reached under the covers and drug the cat out. With practiced ease, Liz slid into bed, still holding the cat with one hand. She settled for sleep, placing the feline on her chest.

Nala was still half asleep. She didn't know what was going on besides she had been suddenly removed from her safe, warm spot, so she burrowed back under the covers. She worked her way between the humans, tail flicking back and forth to tickle them both.

Angus, wide awake now, leaned over to kiss his wife. What with one thing and another it had been a couple weeks since they had both been in bed and awake, so the kiss grew a bit passionate. Angus rolled over to get closer to Liz, but he was half way there when a strangled MEOW sounded from under the covers. He reached down to move the cat so he wouldn't squish her, but she didn't stay where he put her. Within seconds, Nala was back between the humans. Angus tried a couple more times, with the same results.

“I guess we'll just have to sleep,” Liz laughed.

“I guess so,” Angus agreed. He kissed Liz lightly and lay on his back. “Good night.”

“Good night, dear,” Liz said as she lay back down. She was so tired that she was drifting off to sleep at once. Just before she fell completely asleep she heard Angus muttering something that sounded like “I canna believe I've been cockblocked by a cat.” She smiled and slid into peaceful sleep.

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