It makes me sad because as much as I love dogs, when I think of my greatest successes as a vet, it always involves a forlorn cat. There is nothing like getting a scared, sick, anxious kitty to trust you enough to purr and enjoy a good scratch. There is not a greater high than getting a cat to FINALLY eat after you’ve been battling it’s illness for days.
Sometimes you just shake your head in disbelief when the cat does well in spite of its issues. They don’t seem to recognize failure.
Hill-Dale has a patient named “Hammer” (names have been changed to protect the innocent) who was found when he was barely over a pound. He had 6 different types of parasites and infectious agents when his new owner brought him in. He was a crusty, itchy, scaly, potbellied, goopy eyed mess. His owner and her sweet son wanted to do everything thing they could to help him. He ended up thriving with their good care. Fast forward 5 years later and now except for the occasional GI disturbance he is a normal cat. “Hammer” doesn’t love us. I’m sure he associates us with how he felt when he was sick. He tolerates most treatments but then always gives us a good swat and hiss when he has to go back in his kennel.
I’ll never forget “Muffin Man”. A pathetic looking 8 week old persian that was so inbred he didn’t have functioning nostrils. I’m not sure he even had two brain cells to rub together, but he was a happy kitten! He loved interacting with humans so much he couldn’t stop purring or kneading his paws. He kept falling over because he forgot to breathe through his mouth. He went back to the breeder in Chicago where he came from and I hope he ended up in a loving home.
“Macho” was taken in by the sister of his first owner at 10 years of age. He had been neglected and sick much of his life. His new owner wanted to try and fix him, so over the course of a year we cleaned up all his infections, removed all his teeth, treated his pain and gave him as much quality of live as we and his new owners could. He finally had to be put to sleep when he developed cancer but in spite of his many travails he was a good natured as he could be. I think I would have been angry if my life had turned out that way. Not him, he seemed content each day he had.
Just when you think you’ve learned it all, those animals teach something new.