A lot of veterinarians decide to get into veterinary medicine because they love animals. But one aspect of the job that many would-be vets don’t consider is that there’s usually a human attached to the pet!
It got me wondering what kinds of crazy stories veterinarians might have. It turns out, they’ve got some good ones! Here are some of the weird, wacky, and hilarious things our vets see and hear every day.
Dr. Anna O’Brien, a veterinarian in Maryland, says cat names are a constant source of amusement. “I love it when my patient is named Shirley or Dan or Louise, but what’s even funnier is when the cat name enters a conversation and you’re not quite sure what’s going on,” she says. “I had a new client start explaining how Susan was inappropriately eliminating in the house. At first completely uncomfortable with this subject matter, it took me a few minutes to realize that Susan was the cat and not the daughter!”
Dr. Jean Hofve, DVM, a holistic veterinarian and author in Denver, Colorado, explains that a lot of pet care is common sense. But, she says, not every cat parent has it. She shared a true story about a client who brought in her 12-year-old cat, complaining that the cat was peeing all over the apartment and had been for years. Dr. Hofve, as usual, started her consultation with the basics:
Dr. Hofve: “What kind of litter are you using in the box?”
Dr. Hofve: “Yes, what kind of litter is in the litter box?”
Client: “He doesn’t have a litter box. I let him out twice a day to do his business.”
Dr. Hofve: “Get a litter box.”
Two weeks later, the client called with great news about her cat’s potty issues: “He’s cured!”
Dr. Richard Green, DVM, owner and medical director of the Mont Clare Animal Hospital in Chicago, shares a story about a cat very determined to get his way. “One cat owner moved her cat’s toy box from the bedroom to the living room. The cat moved the box back. The cat would push the box with its nose, rest a while, then push it some more. Eventually, it got the box back to the bedroom!” Seriously, don’t mess with the toy box!
“My favorite kitty stories typically involve people who simply view themselves as their cat’s staff member,” says Katy J. Nelson, DVM, CVJ, a veterinarian in the Washington, DC, area and host of The Pet Show with Dr. Katy.
“If the kitty comes in demanding food at 4 a.m., the staff member gets out of bed and fills the bowl. If the kitty does not like the new litter, the staff member purchases three more kinds of litter from which the kitty can make their selection. If the kitty does not approve of the new boyfriend, the staff member breaks up with the offending entity. I’ve always believed the term ‘cat owner’ was a misnomer, and these folks prove my theory.”
Dr. Lorie Huston, a veterinarian from Rhode Island and author of the Pet Health Care Gazette, says that just listening to cat owners talk about day-to-day life with cats often makes her laugh. “I’ve had several cat moms talk about how disgusting it is to step on a wet hairball in bare feet,” Dr. Huston says. “I think I probably find this funny because I can relate to it so easily!”
Dr. Jessica Vogelsang from Pawcurious tells the story of a cat patient who hated dogs, to the point that the office staff had to clear the waiting area when the cat came in. A few years later, the cat, sadly, had to be put to sleep, but the cat kept true to her personality.
“We humored her by moving all the dogs out of the line of sight from the exam room window, even though the door was shut,” Dr. Vogelsang recalls. “So when we were finally ready, we gave the cat the injection, and he drifted off to sleep. Not 10 seconds later, there was a huge howl from the waiting area. I asked the dog’s owner what happened, and she said, ‘I have no idea. Brutus just jumped up and yelped like someone hit him in the face.’ Even in that sad time, everyone got a smile out of it — even the cat’s owner!”
Dr. Patrick Mahaney, VMD, CVA, from Los Angeles, shares the story of a client who brought her cat in, suffering from lethargy, decreased appetite, and vomiting. After X-rays, Dr. Mahaney says, “I could see objects in her cat’s stomach that appeared flexible and tubular.” He says the client was certain her cat would never eat anything odd.
But lo and behold, Dr. Mahaney removed nearly 20 elastic hair bands in variety of colors (and degrees of digestion) from the cat’s stomach.
“As I presented her with the unpleasant-smelling bag of hair bands, she gasped, then covered her mouth with one hand while reaching for her ponytail, which was held together by a band just like those in the bag (and formerly in her cat’s stomach). Fortunately for the cat, he recovered quickly and went home feeling much more digestively sound. Needless to say, this cat owner professed to be more careful with her hair bands in the future.”
At the end of the day, regardless of how crazy things can get, these vets love their jobs. But it’s certainly not an easy profession — and it’s definitely never boring. As Dr. O’Brien puts it, “You can never tell what’s going to greet you when you open that exam room door!”
Has your cat ever provided your vet with a funny story? Please share in the comments!