It's deja moo all over again


Mr. Bullfeather was beside himself with concern over his cat, Raisin.

Mr. Bullfeather was beside himself with concern over his cat, Raisin.

"Poor old Raisin is mighty sick this time, Doc," he said. "It's been going on for a couple of weeks now. I tried these pills, but they didn't do a bit of good."

He handed me the vial. The label was from my hospital, but it was handwritten. That meant it was dispensed before we computerized. Those pills were more than six years old. Wait a minute! The label had our old address. They were more than 22 years old! The writing was faded. I had no idea what the pills were.

"You know how I feel about my animals, Doc," he continued. "I treat them as if they were my children. Is there anything we can do for poor old Raisin?"

The cat was at death's door. He was dehydrated, hypothermic and barely conscious. I recommended a course of tests and treatment. His next words were no surprise: "I'm not one who believes in spending a lot of money on animals. Can't you just give me some better pills or something?"

It was all I could do to convince him to let me try some conservative treatment. He would not allow tests, but we would see if fluids, warmth, vitamins and other nursing care would bring the poor feline around within a day or two. He would authorize no more than $100.

Early the next morning, he was on the phone with some important questions. "Isn't there anything that can be done in a case like this? If there is any treatment, I'd sure like to know about it. Mind you, I'm not saying that I'd go for it, but I'd still like to know."

Of course, he continued to refuse any proper testing, but was sure to mention that he treats his animals as if they were his children.

A few hours later, a call came in from the daughter of the owner's aunt's boyfriend. "Hello, doctor?" she began. "This is Annie Helminth. I used to work for a veterinarian, so I know a lot about animals. I'm surprised that you can't figure out what's wrong with Mr. Bullfeather's cat. I was thinking that it might be worms. Did you think of that? You know there is a test called fecal sample that you could check."

(Wow! I'll have to write that down.)

"I sure hope you can help him," she continued. "You know, his pets are very important to him. He treats them as if they were his children."

By the second day, there was little or no improvement in Raisin's condition, and Mr. B decided to take him home. It seemed much more logical to let the cat spend his last hours at home rather than put him through the expense of euthanasia. But there were a few last-minute questions.

"Did you ever figure out exactly what is wrong with him, Doc?

I explained that dehydration was the main symptom, but that only led to more questions.

"What causes dehydration?"

My best guess was kidney failure, but he was quick to set me straight. "It can't be that, Doc. No matter how sick he was, he kept on peeing, even when he stopped drinking water."

At any rate, he promised me that if Raisin started to suffer, he would bring him back for euthanasia.

"I only want the best for Raisin, Doc," he gulped. "You know how I feel about my animals. I treat them as if they were my own children."

Michael A. Obenski

It was a case of déjà moo; I had heard that bull before.

Dr. Obenski owns Allentown Clinic for Cats in Allentown, Pa.

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