When I found out the spcaLA (with whom I’m a freshly minted volunteer) was offering by-appointmen-onlly low-cost spaying/neutering, I didn’t hesitate to make a reservation to bring Patches, our newest furry family member (who adopted us last summer more than we did her), to have the procedure done.

Of course, that involved the assumption that she wasn’t spayed already.

So this morning I crated her up in one of our cat carriers (unlike most that I’ve ever had to contain throughout my life, she’s quite comfortable going in pretty much on her own), and we took what I expected would be a drive for me to drop her off at the spcaLA facility on Jefferson Boulevard to be picked up this afternoon. Again, assuming her reproductive stuff had not yet been modified.

Well, not more than a couple minutes after Patches was taken from me, out she came with the vet tech telling me what indeed Patches was spayed.

“You’re kidding!?”

No, the vet tech wasn’t kidding. Shaving off some hair from her belly revealed the telltale scar, she said.

So I apologized for the error, but they said it was no problem, and that one-way trip turned into a crosstown roundtrip drive that brought Patches and me home where she spent a few minutes in the carrier wondering what the hell it was all about and in no hurry to exit, like so:

So what have I learned (besides the obvious adage about “to assume makes an ass outta u and me”)? Well, one thing: Whatever the circumstances that happened to separate our Patchy from her previous peeps — whether it was accidental loss or intentional abandonment — there are some hearts broken out there over losing a so obviously beloved and well-cared-for cat.

And if it was intentional, trust me: having had no choice at the age of 14 but to leave behind Puddy, my cat of more than seven years, when mom moved us from Hollywood to Beverly Hills for high school, I know about that heartbreak. Thirty-three years later it hurts no less than 33 minutes after we abandoned her.