I’ll be honest with you, Internet. I’m a cat person. In fact, if my future husband doesn’t hurry up and propose to me in the rain I may eventually become a fully fledged crazy cat lady. But I think I’ve got a few more years until I’m in danger of that. Hopefully. (Don’t have a heart attack, people who care about me. There’s no danger of me running off and getting married way too young.)
With that in mind, I think you’ll understand when I tell you I wasn’t entirely thrilled when, senior year of high school, my AP Biology class was set the task of dissecting cats.
Before we began, our teacher told us the story of these cats pre-death. Apparently most of them were alley cats picked up off the streets of Mexico by desperate men willing to do anything to feed their families. Understandably, the cats were a little… well, rough-looking.
I knew things were off to a bad start when we opened the plastic our unfortunate cat had been preserved in and discovered that it had been packed sideways, resulting in a squished dead cat (as opposed to the regular kind). Oh, and did I mention the smell? Because it was awful. My olfactory nerve nearly rioted. But I digress.
Before being shipped off to high school science students, the cats (once they were dead) had to going through 2 processes. First, they had to be preserved in a chemical similar to formaldehyde. Then, latex had to be pumped into their arteries and veins (red and blue, respectively) so that we biology students could differentiate between the two.
We got the cat unsquished enough to pin it down, and then my very brave friend started dissecting (I hung back, looking wary.) I had a feeling that things were a little off when our cat’s intestines looked different from those of the other cats (as in, sort of shriveled and rotten-looking). But, just like the French aristocracy circa 1780, I ignored the warning signs. And then a bloody revolution broke out.
That is to say, our cat started to rot. We knew something was wrong when the intestines started to putrefy. First, they started to look like the sort of thing you’d use as a potion ingredient. Then, they looked like the sort of thing you’d find in a cauldron after you’ve left the witches from Macbeth alone with it. Oh, and the smell got worse.
Eventually, my teacher* solved the problem by pouring an entire bottle of rubbing alcohol on our cat. It helped the smell for a little bit, and probably prevented us all dying of plague. I may be emotionally scarred, though.
And of course next week was the lab practical…
*None of this was my teacher’s fault. Were we sent a defective/evil cat.