Flaming Autos and Decojoneified Kitties

"What's that smell?" Braunbeck and I asked each other as we opened the front door. We were heading out to go to the grocery store in the wee hours of the morning, but the cold outside air hit us with an unfamiliar stench. It smelled like someone was barbecuing metal cabbages. Tartly sulfurous, charcoal smoky with just a trace of benzene sweetness.

"That's burning tires," Braunbeck said.

And that's when we saw the orange glow of the flames. At the side street at the other end of our parking lot, a Honda's front half was entirely engulfed. Red-orange flames rose at least three feet above the hood; the tires were melting into the pavement, the fabric on the front seat curling and snapping as it burned.

The flaming Honda was perilously close to other cars and apartment buildings. I took a step back, not sure if someone (read: us) needed to call 911. Was the gas tank going to explode?

But the fire department was already there, their presence blocked by the smoke and flames. A firefighter let loose with a canister of foam, and in thirty seconds the car was out.

We just got Braunbeck's kitten fixed. I felt bad for having to do that to the little guy ... but there's no other choice for an indoor cat, and it would be the height of irresponsibility to let him run around intact, given the huge number of feral cats in this complex already.

So, the night before surgery, we took up all the cat food at 6, which resulted in all the cats sitting forlornly in the kitchen giving us looks of "Don't you love us anymore?" At midnight, we emptied the water dish.

It was a simple matter to collect the kitten early the next morning; we just had to go into the kitchen and he was right there. We loaded him with some difficulty into the cat carrier and took him to the vet's office with him crying every mile of the way.

I picked him up after work. The vet tech said he'd done well, but that he would likely be groggy the rest of the evening and might not want food until well into the next day. They said to get an Elizabethan collar if he licked at his incision too much.

So, I figured the little guy would be sleeping it off all evening. I figured he'd be sore and grumpy -- he'd just undergone what the vet bill indelicately referred to as a "feline castration", after all. I was prepared to carry him up to the bed and offer him a little bowl of ice chips, as the vet tech suggested.

But when we set the cat carrier down in the living room and opened it up, he bounded out. Thirty minutes later, he was playing with Simon, and it rapidly became apparent that the main task would be to keep Simon from excessively licking the incision (Simon obsessively grooms the kitten, and anything out of the ordinary gets extra attention). That night, the kitten was behaving just like normal -- eating, playing, attacking feet.

Pretty tough little cat, I must say.