Who doesn’t dread the annual vet visit? This morning, we had Sam’s. And Hannah came along for her three-month liver level blood test re-check. Ten minutes in, my shirt was covered with a full coat of orange tabby fur.
I removed the carriers from storage yesterday evening to reinforce a “we come in peace” vibe, but Sam didn’t buy it. He hid behind the cat tree for hours, from time to time letting out a few tiny mewls that sounded like “no, no, I won’t go.” He came out of hiding only when it was time for his nightly dessert of crunchy duck and green pea kibble, and even then he was wary, snatching a mouthful and then dashing into my room and under the bed. Hannah, on the other hand, hopped up beside me on the chaise and purred to her heart’s content. I don’t know if that was because the carrier didn’t bother her, or because she was happy Sam wasn’t bothering her.
Sam: “I’m NOT going to the vet.”
This morning, I knew Sam was going to sound like a human being who was in the throes of bloody murder. But somehow I thought it wouldn’t be that bad. I put Hannah in her carrier first, backing into the bathroom and lowering her down into a soft over-the-shoulder bag she fits in quite prettily. Because Sam, when confined, tries to ram his body to freedom with a running leap, the hard plastic carrier with the metal door is reserved for him. This morning, he whimpered and cried when I approached, and, although I spoke to him quietly, he took out his hind claws in fear. I had to scruff him in order to prevent injury to myself and to him from all his flailing of limbs. Then he began to scream.
His tones were blood-curdling. As quickly as possible, I went down the Alfred Hitchcock-steep no-railing garret stairwell with them both, hoping the neighbors weren’t thinking I was actually murdering someone. When I got them both and myself into the car, I took a few rounds of breaths before turning the key in the ignition. Such screaming triggered the adrenaline rush and thought-racing symptoms that characterize my PTSD.
The garret living room furniture, during my attempts to get Sam into the carrier.
“It’s okay, Sammy,” I said. “We’ll be home soon.” Then Hannah began to whine. “I don’t like this either,” I said, as if they could understand. Then I shifted the car into gear and drove the few blocks to the clinic.
I’d brought a sample of Sam’s stool in a couple days earlier, having found a suspicious worm on the garret bathroom floor and again where Sam had been sitting in the living room. It wasn’t roundworm, that I knew (from having seen one of those last year when he tested positive), but I needed to be sure it wasn’t another kind of parasite. Thankfully, the results were negative, though Dr. Parker, our vet, said it might be a false negative if the infestation weren’t yet too far along. For precautionary reasons, he gave Sam a dewormer. Now I get to watch for (more) worms. If I see any, Hannah will have to be pilled as well.
The vet tech came and went with Hannah, and returned her while Dr. Parker was examining Sam: all was well. Sam climbed up on my shoulder then, and tucked his nose into my neck and wailed while we discussed his at times aggressive behavior with Hannah, and how to manage it. I told Sam he could go back into the carrier then, and he started to climb the walls (literally), and scream. For a moment, however, he found comfort in the scale, which stated he weighed a healthy 11.3 pounds.
After what seemed like forever, the visit was over. As I stood at the checkout counter to pay my bill, I thought I smelled something foul. Was it Sam’s breath? Dr. Parker had said I was brushing Sam’s teeth well. Perhaps it was a wet dog. When I got into the car, I smelled it again. It was raining outside, I told myself, it could just be my musty old car. But I knew: someone had pooped.
Back at the garret, I let Hannah and Sam out of their respective carriers, and there I saw Sam’s panic-induced diarrhea in the darkness of the large plastic crate. He somehow managed to pile it all deep in the back, under his leopard-printed foot rug.
I’m sure Sam will forgive me… at least by dinnertime. Hannah, meanwhile, nudged her forehead into my leg a few times when I collapsed on the living room floor. We’ll find out her liver test result tomorrow. For now, it’s nap time.
How do your pets react when you bring them to the vet? How do you cope? Share your experiences and comments below.