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In the spirit of the great shockumentaries that are late-night cable favorites, I am going to expose veterinary medicine's heinous funny bone with a joke we call "Give your cat this medicine at home."
It starts out with a cat lover putting off the trip to the veterinarian with a sick cat in order to avoid the following chain of events: Cat hides under the couch; human attempts to extricate the cat and stuff him into a carrier; cat claws shred human flesh like a feline Freddy Krueger; cat finally womanhandled (man of the house nowhere to be found, so manhandled not a possibility) into the carrier. At this point, the pet owner makes a quick drive to the veterinary hospital, often while being serenaded with the unhappy sounds of a cat plotting revenge.
And now we find ourselves in the exam room. Let the show begin!
Out explodes the cat, hissing and raking the air with claws extended. Approximately 325 pounds of veterinarian plus technician catch the cat and put on a show called Contortionist Cat Examination. So far, so bad. Everyone — except the cat — is now covered in cat fur. Some are sneezing. Many are bleeding. All are scared.
But now it's the vet's turn to get even by saying to Mrs. Client (with a completely straight face), "Socks has an infection that will require treatment at home for the next two weeks. Give Socks one of these tiny pills twice daily." In the eyes of the cat and the owner, of course, the tiny pills look to be the size of tennis balls.
As we watch the rumbling box and dazed owner head toward the car, we can well imagine the World Feline Wrestling Federation match that will take place once they are home. Twice a day, for two weeks. The very thought makes us smile as we clean up the fur and patch up our wounds.
Once Mrs. Trepidation (formerly Mrs. Frustrated Kitty Client) opens the cat carrier at home, a streak of furry flash-lightning can be seen dashing under the same couch, where this odyssey began. When Mrs. Trepidation's husband and children come home, she announces sweetly and innocently: "We need to give Socks a little medicine. Would you mind helping Mommy?"
If they've been through this before, they respond with their own dash for cover. If they are rookies, they may agree to help, having no idea what's about to happen.
Soothing words and food lures are ignored by the cat. A quick grab finally extricates him from under the couch. With pills and fluffy towels out and doors closed, one set of hands pries open the cat's mouth and the bell rings for round one. Socks comes out swinging with a classic "bite or flight" response. The family counterpunches by throwing in the towel, literally, over and around the cat to make a cat burrito that can be stuffed with medicine.
Finally, the pill goes down, and everyone gives a big sigh of relief. Just then, the cat spits out the pill and, in a flash, is back under the couch. The family takes round two in stride as they put on the leather gloves. Not intimidated by a 575-pound opponent (Mom, Dad, couple of kids), the cat is ready to explore the floor, walls and — if need be — ceiling of the living room.
Meanwhile, back at the vet's office, the veterinary team is chuckling. "Think of all the suckers we sent home to try to medicate their cats today!" Truth be known, it's difficult even for veterinarians to give medications to some cats. So next time you visit the vet and hear, "Give these little pills to kitty," turn the tables by saying: "No, I think I'll hospitalize her so you can make sure it gets done. As a matter of fact, would you show me the correct way to give a cat a pill, right now?"
It's payback time!
Postscript: No, your veterinarian really doesn't seek revenge through your cat. Getting medicine into your cat is very important to us, and we want to help you do it. Here are some tips.
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