If you’ve ever had a medical procedure that required sedation, you’re familiar with the warnings provided in discharge instructions: don’t drink, drive, or operate heavy machinery, avoid signing legal documents, and the unwritten but generally understood piece of advice, don’t shop online. After a fateful post-op decision, I suggest we add one more advisory to that list that you might not have thought of.

My procedure went fine, and the partner got us settled in the car for the ride home. I was still a little dopey when I came up with a brilliant idea.

Me: You know what’s on this side of town?

Him: What?

Me: The Humane Society!

Him: Uh-huh. That’s great.

Me: We should stop by! Just to visit. We’re never on this side of town.

Him: Nope.

Me: No, really. We don’t have to adopt anything, we’ll just look.

Him: I don’t think it’s a good idea. You’re going to find one you want.

Me: Well, if I do and you say no we won’t get one. Okay?

Him: If we go, I’m staying in the car.

Me: Deal!

We arrive at the Humane Society and he stays in the car while I go in to meet me some cats. Just to say hi. I tell the lady about my older male kitty at home who desperately needs a friend (all true) and asked for her advice. She thought my cat might be more open to an adult female. She brought in an orange kitty that didn’t seem very interested in people. Then she brought in Pippi, a lovely, 2.5-year-old female black cat.

Pippi was sweet as she could be. Rubbed all over me, appreciative of my pets, and considerably perky, playful, and affectionate. I called the husband in the car.

Me: Wanna come in and meet this super cute female kitty?

Him: Nope.

Me: No, really – she’s 2.5 years old and would be a great companion for Suzuki. Come see what you think.

Him: (deliberate pause, then…) Fine.

He comes into the greeting room and Pippi welcomes him excitedly. Of course he loved her, and shortly thereafter we were taking her home with us to meet her new family.

Our small muppet-of-a-dog loves all beings so introducing her to him was easy. We took time introducing the cats, following all the best practices, and slowly she and Suzuki got to know each other. We even gave her a new name – Princess Peppercorn.

It didn’t take long before we began learning lots of fascinating things about our new little Princess. First of all, she eats cords. Chews right threw them. Went through two laptop cords and a phone charger within weeks. Then we got smart about wrapping cords.

She also eats paper. Any paper you leave around will be chewed into confetti. Bills, checks, she finds them all equally entertaining. Since I always have papers around, the husband has no sympathy for me and says I should get used to putting them away. That’s all fine and good until she goes for one of his magazines or books. Then it’s annoying.

And most interestingly, turns out she’s a complete maniac, biting and scratching you for no reason, drawing blood as often as possible, turning on you before there’s any hope you’ll escape an attack without physical damage of some kind.

Thinking back on that initial meeting it all makes sense now. She cunningly manipulated the whole thing. She was no newbie; she’d been in the joint for some time before we met her. In fact, she had been adopted from a shelter and returned for “unknown” reasons! She knew a mark when she saw one. Here’s how I figure it went down: First, she spotted a naïve human in a weakened state. She coyly rubbed the metal of her cage and meowed ever-so-delicately to entice me. Once I took the bait, she was all about closing the deal. She knew – and I say this with complete confidence – that if humans really like you, they are your ticket out. So, she laid it on thick, taking care to temporarily resist her compulsion to scratch and bite.

Princess Peppercorn is 8 now and honestly hasn’t gotten any better. She loves us, in her own twisted, violent way. And even though we’re regularly replenishing our stock of antibacterial salve and bandages, we love her too. She’s fortunate to have targeted animal advocates who strongly believe in responsible pet ownership, which means she’ll be with us…sigh…forever. But the lesson is clear and an important one to pass along: The next time you or a loved one has a medical procedure, remember our tale of Princess Peppercorn and maybe wait 24 hours before visiting an animal shelter.  

Princess Peppercorn – she may eat you
A Cautionary Tale About Post-op Decision-Making