The vans wheels were spinning on the slippery mud. I admitted defeat and backed up, pulling over to the side of the driveway and parking beside the other car. I couldn’t see the house, but a young boy with his little sister came trotting down the driveway.
“Hello,” I said. “Am I in the right place?”
“Yes,” He said shyly. “My Mum’s up in the house, she told me to help you carry anything you need up to the house.”
The two of them squabbled with each other while I gathered all the things I needed – sedatives, gloves, local anaesthetic, a scalpel blade, clippers, syringes, needles… Then I grabbed my bag, and followed the kids up the slippery dirt track, around a corner, to their home.
“You found it!” came the cheery greeting.
“I did,” I replied, as I was shown into their home, a proper bush shed, embedded deep in the forest.
“Just a sec, I’ll grab him before he scarpers,” she said. “And you kids- off to hang out with your sister for a bit.”
The kids looked a bit mulish, like they didn’t want to go, but the dragged their heels out the door, all the same.
“They’ve been a bit feral, and I get really squeamish at the thought of blood, let alone the sight of it,” she explained. “He’s a lovely cat, but he’s started wandering all over the place, so i think it’s time for him to lose his family jewels.”
“Just let me get the sedative ready,” I said, as the big, long, lean and rangy black cat wriggled, trying to escape and run away. I drew up a dose, then asked her to give him to me. I grasped a big handful of scruff, and injected the sedative into his muscle. He jumped and squirmed a bit at the sting of it, and I kept holding him while he started to get sleepy.
“Has he had breakfast?” I asked.
“Oh yes, a big one,” she replied.
“Every now and then this drug makes them nauseous,” I explained. “Do you have an old newspaper, just in case?”
“Here you go,” she said, suddenly scurrying to grab one.
Sure enough, he gently deposited his breakfast on the newspaper before sinking into a deep and floppy state of sedation. I drew up some local anaesthetic, and gently injected a generous dose into each testicle – his mum was very carefully not looking at what I was doing, and seemed just a little bit pale around the gills.
“I hate to do this to him, you know, but I don’t want him to be making hundreds more kittens, either,” she said.
“It will stop the wandering, that’s for sure,” I said. “It’s an awesome bush home you have here… My gran and grandad lived in a big bush shed, I have really fond memories of it. Did you build it all?” I asked.
“Yes, every time we’ve cleared any land here we get the portable mill in and cut up the timber,” she explained.
“Right, time to look away again,” I said, as I pulled on the gloves, and liberated the scalpel blade from it’s shiny foil packet. She looked at the wall, as I quickly incised, removed, and tied off the remains of the testicles. He was a VERY mature tom cat. Then I injected the drug to reverse the sedation in, and applied pressure to the wound with a series of gauze swabs until all the bleeding had stopped. Only 5 minutes later his tail started to twitch, and soon after he wandered out to a sunny spot, looking a bit woozy and hung over!
“There you go,” I said. “He’ll be as right as rain, though he might feel a bit yucky from the drugs for the rest of the day. You can give him some food, he’ll no doubt be hungry after losing his brekky.”
“Thanks so much,” she said. “It’s so nice not to have to stress him out by taking him in the car!”
I walked carefully down the slippery road back to the van, cleaned up all the rubbish, and drove off back to the road through the big tall trees…