Thursday, November 12, 2009

Vet's Day

Today was Vets Day for us. No, not the day remembering the people who served in the armed forces - the other vets. The ones who look at our mixed breed cat and dreamed of sending their children to the best universities.

As part of our getting-ready-to-go-overseas, we had to get Streak a current vaccination shot since that is a requirement of the places that board cats. Her vaccination was due in September and you might share my thinking that the vets would have given her a shot while they were botching her surgery in - oh that's right - September. We both would be underestimating how well trained they are in getting to charge for everything they do.

Anyhow, Streak and I went in to see a guy who introduced himself as Chris. "So you're here for a checkup and vaccination?" he asked. "Well, no," I said, "she doesn't need a checkup since you folks did all sorts of things to her about five weeks ago." He chuckled at my joke. I wasn't making a joke, of course, but Chris began doing checkuppy sort of things quickly lest I stop him once I realized he was going to do a checkup and charge me for it whether I wanted it or not.

The checkup was mercifully brief. He weighed the cat. He then told me that with older cats the most important thing to watch for was weight loss since that would indicate such things as kidney probems, diabetes, or the other things that kill older cats.

"But, Chris," I said, "when I was here five weeks ago, your colleague told me she was worried that Streak was gaining weight and might need to go on a diet." Chris checked her records and nodded. "Yep, she's even gained a little weight since then," he said. And in a desperate attempt to salvage a consolation point, added, "but if she starts to lose weight, bring her back in quickly."

Chris then prodded Streak in ways that made this placid, lazy cat fairly tense. Based on my observations, I am pretty sure she has no prostate problems, but Chris was fairly concerned about her coat. "This coat is pretty thin," he said, "Do you think she is overgrooming?"

My quick answer was, "I don't actually watch her to see how much grooming she does, but the part of the coat you're worried about is where you people shaved her while you botched her operation in September. It actually looks pretty good compared to how she looked when I got home after that."

He decided to move on. He looked in her eyes. ""Hmmm, this right eye looks like she's had a transplant."

"Yes, Chris, she has. In fact, she had it done here. It's a dog's cornea. And since she doesn't keep walking in circles, I assume it's working."

Chris nodded sagely and moved on a few centimeters until he hit the motherlode. He opened Streak's mouth. "Hmmm," he said quite gravely. "She has a lot of plaque in her teeth."

He held her mouth open and pointed to the plaque on her teeth, which I must admit is not something it had ever occurred to me to look at before. "See, her gums are quite irritated. She needs to have her teeth cleaned." He paused. "To do that, we will need to put her under general anaesthesia."

OK, I know this game. We want to brush your cat's teeth and it's only going to cost a couple of hundred dollars.

"No, Chris," I said. "This poor animal has gone through enough this year and almost died the last time you folks put her under general anaesthesia. I will just encourage her to floss more often."

I wanted to add that I know plenty of English people and Streak's teeth were hardly the worst set of choppers I've seen. And I had never heard of anyone putting a Pom under general anaesthesia just to clean their teeth - although I can imagine it might be the easiest thing to do in some instances.

Anyhow, I am guessing there comes a moment in every vet's life when he recognizes a pet owner who is not about to take out a second mortgage to do things like brush a 12-year-old cat's teeth. Being a vet, though, he did have Plan B, and out of desperation he convinced me to buy overpriced cat food that cleans cat's teeth. I gave in and agreed to buy the special formula scientifically proven pet food.

Anyhow, Streak survived her vaccination day and our bank account more or less survived. Tomorrow LK and I are going for our H1N1 vaccinations. And this is no joke -- Our doctor will charge significantly less to give us our vaccine than Streak's doctor did. And I know she isn't likely to try to sell us a bag of special formula food on the way out the door.

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