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When I tell people that I am a cat doctor, I always get the same responses. “Don’t you like dogs?”
“I didn’t know there was such a thing as a cat-only hospital.”
My reply: Yep, I do. Yep, only cats. And yep, there is! (I wish that I could afford to post this on a billboard on the 405 freeway.)
The Cat Clinic of Orange County is where the real O.C. housewives bring their kitties. You won't hear any barking, clucking or squeaking here — just purrs and the occasional chorus of meows.
We have cat-sized exam tables and equipment that only fits felines. And although our catfights aren’t staged by Bravo, some of our patients truly have their own “staff." In the heart of the O.C., the clientele isn't looking for “just a cat” clinic. They expect their kitties to be worshipped, pampered and indulged. After all, they are the Real House Cats of Orange County.
I was born and raised in the Midwest, so ending up in the O.C. — with a “PURRDR” vanity plate — wasn't exactly what I'd envisioned while attending vet school at the University of Wisconsin.
But I think that my fourth-year large-animal resident had an inkling of my future on the day that I sobbed over a tiny farm kitten with an upper respiratory infection. He patted me on the back, gave the kitten a shot of penicillin, and was likely thankful to get me out of his truck.
I knew the farms of Wisconsin could never appreciate felines the way I did (and I only had so much room on my bed for ailing cats), so off to the West Coast I ventured.
Since then, I've done more than 10,000 exams on cats. This, however, doesn't stop some of my clients from occasionally questioning whether their elite breeder’s information trumps mine, or whether they should take the advice of a friend of a friend who's “like an expert on kitty kidney failure” because she does all kinds of research on the Internet in her copious spare time.
With Newport Beach just a block away, which is known for having the largest single-family household incomes in the country, my patients arrive in style — and often in cars that outprice my first home. They're lavished with carriers made by famous designers, pink boas and designer catnip. There will be no drinking from a vat of discarded cow’s milk here!
As you can imagine, some of my cat owners can be a tad crazy, making it their mission to always keep me on my toes. Let me introduce you to just a few of the prominent O.C. cat moms who have me hopping:
Cathy lives in a very elite section of Newport Beach. Her house isn’t big, but the price tag will make your head spin. Her garage has been converted into a shelter of sorts: Cages line the walls, and the smell of litter boxes will knock you over. Inside, her boutique furniture is covered in cat hair, and kitty toys litter the floor.
She lives the O.C. lifestyle with a “house boy” who cooks and chauffeurs the rescues that she's always looking to place. Her heart is big, and her pocketbook is always open.
When I see Cathy coming, I hide in the treatment area because I know that if she manages to catch my sleeve, I will never get out of taking in a litter of kittens or helping her place a special needs foster. I admire her greatly, and wish that I could clone her, but her stories can run long as my waiting room fills up.
She's a millionaire hoarder who hides behind the title of “rescuer," but the reality is that many cats in our area owe their homes to her.
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