Well, it’s that time of year again. Not because it’s the end of Summer, or onslaught of the cold Winter months, or even the beginning of the school year I’ve come to dread, it’s my kitty, Smoki’s, annual vet visit. Really, it’s much more intense than performing a sneak attack to capture her when the ever so dreaded cat carrier comes out of hiding each year. That I can handle. This is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. I even took my sister along once just to prove my point. Her first words were: “I didn’t know that cats could growl” followed by the Vet telling her she needed to either remain in the exam room or shut the door. You see, every time Smoki growled and banged the side of the carrier, my sister made a mad dash into the hall. I don’t know which behavior was more disturbing, my sister or my cat.
Now keep in mind, I have no ordinary cat. Even though she is my sweet, cuddly baby, she can turn from an angel to a raging 10 lb angry panther with just a twitch of the ears. She’s a one person cat, and that one person is her mom. Unless you are a frequent visitor to Smoki’s domain, you are not tolerated. If she doesn’t make it to her hiding place, you will be greeted by the usual death stare followed by a hiss. If you do not heed this warning, the hissing will escalate to a growl which will turn into an even worse calamity if you attempt to pet her on the head. At this point, it would be in your best interest to stop dead in your tracks. I usually tell my visitors, nothing personal, she does this to everyone just ignore, keep moving and avoid eye contact, if at all possible. Smoki’s behavior is about as embarrassing as having a child throw a tantrum in the middle of the grocery store aisle; when I really want to blame the parent and their lack of parenting skills for this outburst rather than the child. However, I promise there is no “learned behavior” in Smoki’s case; at least not by any fault of this pet mom. I try to prevent my conscience from succumbing to the notion that I’m a bad pet parent and blame it instead on the fact that she was adopted by me before she was weaned and didn’t get the necessary kitty socialization skills from her mother.
I’ve taken Smoki to the same vet clinic since she was a kitten, and she is now 11 years old. She was well-behaved as a tiny kitten, and we could handle her at the vet until she reached a year old. In past visits, they/we were able to handle her by me holding her with her back against my chest while someone held her back legs. Then one day that all changed as she was now older, stronger and stronger willed. Immediately, I sensed that she had reached her breaking point, the hissing, the ears slightly skewed, the screeching, dilated pupils and growling. I told the vet tech I thought we were ok as long as I held her tightly while she held the back feet. All was good . Well, I held up my end of the bargain, obviously, the vet tech didn’t and decided for some unknown reason to release her hold on the back feet. With my usual, calm, rational demeanor, I didn’t panic. Wish I could have said the same for the vet tech, as she lets out this blood curdling scream of “she’s loose”, “she’s loose” that could be heard all the way to the waiting room. I kid you not. You just can’t make up this sort of stuff. Obviously, she was snoozing in class the day they discussed appropriate behavior skills in the exam room, and the fact that you never leave a client alone with an angry pet. I’m a little shaken at this point, and also somewhat embarrassed by my precious angel’s behavior. I feel sorry for the vet tech involved as she was obviously way over her head on this one. I gather my wits and finally corral Smoki back into her carrier and summon the vet tech, hiding in the hall, that the coast is clear.
Since our initial approached failed, I’m concerned because I know the only option remaining is for them to take Smoki out of the exam room to that scary room in the back where they sedate her, by means I don’t want to even think about, flippantly referred to as “the gas chamber”. There’s just an eerie finality that goes along with that terminology. Even though they reassure me that it is safe, they keep her in her carrier during the process and she will awaken unscathed by the entire process, it still causes me great anxiety. From this visit on, Smoki becomes a marked and branded patient . Literally, she has a red dot on her patient file folder that tells the doctors “beware”. Every year I get the same response when they open that folder for the first time. It’s usually followed by an “OH” and they go out of the room and come back in with reinforcements. But I’m good with that, as I surely wouldn’t want any staff to be injured in the process.
After the ordeal of the screaming vet tech, the screaming cat and the scrambling around in the exam room, I walk out through the waiting room with cat in tow, relieved that this year’s ordeal is behind us, and we are on our way home. Just when I thought I had cleared the waiting room and had the exterior door in clear sight, a nice older gentlemen sitting with his well-behaved cat, I might add, turns to me and says: “well who won, the cat or you guys?” Feeling a bit embarrassed knowing that everyone heard the chaos in the exam room and probably looking a little disheveled from the wrestling match, I couldn’t help but smile,laugh, and tell him we did but there’s always next year.
So, now you see why when September draws near, things around my habitat get a little tense. ~~~~~MEOW~~~~~~