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From the Archives — August 2006

Are you sure this is how we catch bats?

Are you sure this is how we catch bats?

A couple of nights ago, I heard the cats get on their motorcycles in the middle of the night and start doing laps around the living room, with the dog running after them, barking that Mom was going to catch them and then they would really be in trouble. They were knocking things over, crashing into the walls, and generally having one heck of a good time.

The next morning I woke up and they were all sitting by my bed with “Cats rule and dogs drool” grins on their faces. I was about to get out of bed when I noticed their looks of total concentration on where I was stepping. Sure enough, I was inches from squishing… a bat. A cute, fuzzy, quite-recently-deceased ex-bat.

Not even remotely possible for my cats

Not even remotely possible for my cats

I stood on my bed for a while, yelling and generally trying to think of someone who could provide 5:30am bat-removal services. But all of my bat-removers were out of the state. Some of them were (wisely) out of the country. There was my father-in-law, but he informed me that he had just checked the fine print, and bat-removal was not in his retirement job description. So eventually, I put on latex gloves (several on each hand), grabbed some trash bags, and managed to entomb the bat in the garbage can. My gagging scared the dog, but the cats were clearly disgusted that I failed to appreciate their mighty bat-prowess.

That night at the neighborhood picnic, I was telling this story when people asked if I had the bat tested for rabies. One person told me that a high percentage of the local bat population were carriers, and that I was a bad Kitty-Mom.

My husband has often noted that neither of our cats was a candidate for Mensa (although he does feel that they could play a role in scientific research). He pointed out that it was unlikely a healthy bat would have come into the house, and inconceivable that our cats could catch it. I must admit that the picture of a suicidal bat deciding to end it all by flapping into one of their mouths had a certain ring of truth about it.

So the following day I called the vet to see if I had to worry about the kittens. Next thing I knew, there was a Public Health doctor on the phone and she sounded excited. “I’m going to be your Case Manager. You have to get the bat out of the trash right away.”

I said that it was 90° outside and the bat had been cooking in that trashcan all day. “Okay, get it out and put it in your freezer,” she replied.

“Who is this really?” I said. “Is that you, Sarah?” (my boss)

After the doctor assured me she was a real doctor, and after I assured her that a dead, baked bat had zero chance of ending up in my freezer, we agreed that I would fish the bat out of the trash and bring it to the Public Health department in the basement of a downtown hospital. “I’ll have a police escort waiting for you,” the doctor told me.

“Okay, Sarah, I know this is you.”  But I went home, got the bat out of the trash, and put it into the picnic jug with lots of ice. The cats were very pleased that I had brought them back their bat, but then disappointed to discover that I was selfishly keeping the bat all to myself.

[Digression: at this point in the story, every man I’ve told this to asks what the bat looked like. The answer is that I may be a bad Kitty-Mom, but even if I had done horrible things like murder babies or vote Republican I would not have deserved to look at the former-bat, and so I did NOT remove it from its SAFEWAY “Ingredients for Life” plastic bag-shroud. You people need to get a life.]

I arrived at the hospital and walked up to the desk. “I have a bat.”

They sprang into action. One receptionist pointed her finger at me. “Just stay right there. Don’t move.” The other one called for security and told them their bat had arrived. Then with two guards on either side of me — talking into their walkie-talkies so that they could alert everyone along the route that Rabies-Woman was stalking the hospital corridors — we made our way down to the Public Health lab.

After further bat-chitchat and discussion of the important bat-related Public Health Department responsibilities, I was allowed to leave. They presented me with the jug — minus the bat. I assured them that it was now their jug, and I’d be buying my season’s ski lift tickets in hell before that jug came back to my house.

A few days later, I got a call from the Public Health doctor, who told me that my bat did NOT have rabies. She sounded quite sad about it. I told her that I had learned my lesson, and if it ever happened again, I would know just what to do.

Sneak out behind my father-in-law’s house and pitch that bat into his woods.