Hi, Dr. Barchas!

I am curious to know your opinion on single raised orphan kittens’ behavior and emotional health.

I am the proud owner of a six month old kitten named Tucker; I took him in after someone dropped him off at my work around 3 weeks of age. He has a very sweet personality; I am a child therapist and he joins me at work every day and is great with the kids and others. However, when we go to the vets’ office, he is most often referred to as “Dr. Evil” because he undergoes a 180 turn in temperament, as he hates the vet’s office.

My vet is convinced that because he did not have a mama cat or siblings that he is “psychologically damaged.” We spend a great deal of time playing with him and have tried very hard to be good kitty parents. What is the general thinking about this topic?

Thank you!!

Jessie
Knoxville

Your vet is convinced that Tucker is psychologically damaged? Really?

I don’t think a cat needs to be psychologically damaged to dislike shots, being neutered, and having a thermometer inserted into his rectum. It’s not exactly unusual for anyone–cats, dogs, or humans–to dislike going to the doctor.

Some individuals–cats, dogs, and humans–lash out at their doctors. This is excusable in cats and dogs, since they don’t know that vets are trying to help them.

I am as gentle as possible with all of my patients. Nonetheless, I often am the bearer of injections. I often probe an ear or an eye when it is already sore. I invade animals’ personal space because there is no way around it. It’s not surprising that some animals don’t like this.

Since Tucker seems so relaxed at home, you may want to look into having a house call vet take over his routine care. If this isn’t possible, ask your vet about tranquilizers to make the experience easier for Tucker and the veterinary staff.

Finally, I have seen no evidence that cats suffer emotional damage if they are raised by caring humans from an early age. Based upon your description, Tucker seems psychologically healthy.