Sunday, December 02, 2007

The Annual Trip to the Vet

Every year, around the beginning of December, our cats have to pay a visit to the Vet to get their shots and have sundry routine cat-maintenance tasks performed. This is always traumatic, and today was the day, so we are now in recovery mode, collectively.

The experience starts with a quick trip to the attic, to retrieve the cat carrying cages: a big plastic one for Mungo, and a smaller (but tougher) metal and plastic one for Percy. We always cage Percy first because, if he works out what is going on, he goes to ground and becomes impossible to catch. So we stuff the protesting white cat into the cage and slam the lid, while trying to make sure that all the madly thrashing limbs are inside the cage (also the tail). Cage cat, place in front hall. Go and fetch Mungo, who by now knows that something is up (because Percy is yelling his head off, he doesn't like being in the cage). However, Mungo is too big to hide effectively, so he just has to be lugged to his cage and put into it: it's the sort where the top half comes off completely, and is refastened with tabs around the edge, so it's sort of like constructing a giant cat sandwich, with a rather unwilling cat. But we manage to get him into the cage, and all the tabs done up. Now we have two unhappy cats in boxes.

We haul Mungo to the Prius, and put him in the back seat with the seat belt around his cage. And Steve gets into the front seat with Percy on his lap. with a towel over the cage. Sometimes having the towel to hide under calms Percy down a bit, but today isn't one of those days. Percy continues yelling, and Mungo starts up as well. Mungo seldom makes a fuss about going to the Vet, he just does the dumb misery routine, but today he is in fine voice and we drive to the Vet with a duet of "help, murder, save me!" coming from the cat cages. Fortunately, the drive is only about 10 minutes.

Our Vet is next to a big Greek Orthodox church, and Greek Orthodox people either can't read, or are too selfish to care: all the Vet's parking spaces are full, despite being clearly labelled as being for the use of the Vet's customers only. We have to park a long way away, and carry the still-protesting cats to the surgery. Not fun on a hot day, and we elect to leave Percy's towel in the car, since it doesn't seem to be helping. The Vet's nurse says that all the parking places were full when they arrived to open up, and a parade of fat people dressed in black in passing the surgery windows on the way to the church: I've unfortunately timed our visit to coincide with morning service. Bad move.

In consequence of the delay, we miss our appointment, and the Vet starts the next patient, so we have to wait. Both cats grizzle unhappily. We put Mungo, cage and all onto the big scales in the waiting room. We have the weight of the cages written on them, so we can do a subtraction and get the weight of the cat. Mungo weighs 11.66 kilos. He's been fatter, and he has lost some weight, but not enough. Percy weighs about 5.5 kilos, which is normal. Percy now decides that he needs to hide, and in the absence of his towel. he rakes up the newspaper in the bottom of his cage, and manages to get it on top of him. We should have brought the towel.

The Vet on duty hasn't seen our cats before, so he has to read their extensive histories and ask questions before we can get down to business. Then both cats get their shots, blood samples taken for routine testing (they're older cats, and we figure their ailments will be cheaper to treat if diagnosed early), and worming pills administered. We get Percy done first, because he needs less doing, and then he goes back in his cage (no struggle this time), and gets back under his piece of newspaper. Finally, Mungo is carried out the back of the surgery, so that the staff can shave his bottom. Mungo is ridiculously fluffy, and while he likes being brushed, he won't let anyone brush his nethers, so he gets tangly. We have him clipped appropriately once a year, for the sake of hygiene. Otherwise we tend to get a phenomenon known in the family as "Clingons" when Mungo uses his litter tray.

Mungo, freshly shaved, is brought back to us and crawls back into his cage at once, since the cage is now the safest place in the room. We are used to this routine from previous years: getting the boys into their cages at the surgery is always easy. We chat to the Vet for a couple of minutes, and then go to reception to pay for all this, and a sack of the special diet cat biscuits that Mungo needs to keep his bladder healthy. The bill is the thick end of $AU500, and I can see why they reckon veterinary science is one of the best paid professions. Fortunately Steve and I both earn professional salaries!

By now, church is over, and hordes of fat people dressed in black are heading for their cars. I go a fetch our car, and manage to park near the surgery. We load the boys back in, and head home. There is no yelling on the way home, just the occasional grumble. We get the cages into the house, and open them. Both cats bolt for the family room, and wash furiously. Mungo goes to his biscuit plate, and has a consoling snack. Percy goes outside and sits on the barbeque, in the sun. Steve and I collapse exhausted.

What a way to spend Sunday morning.

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