Playing cat games
I had a funny consult today, which reminded me that even with sixteen years of experience as a vet I can still be outsmarted by a cat.
My nurse and I were heading to a house to look at two lovely kitties which needed their annual wellness checkup. They were happy and healthy, but we were to check their weight, teeth and all the other general health parameters to ensure they were fighting fit.
Their owner had diligently obliged our visit by closing her two furry felines into a small laundry room with an adjoining bathroom just before we arrived, so they were easy to look at in a confined space.
We gathered all our tools and slowly opened the sliding door to the laundry room, being careful not to let either kitty out as we entered. It was then that we realised this clever cat team had managed to slide open the adjacent door to the bedroom.
So now the hunt was on. It’s a game called "find the cat" that we have played many times, but we always feel at a slight disadvantage when playing in a bedroom; there are just so many places to hide.
The owner kindly pointed out their usual hiding places and we quickly retrieved the male cat, who gave up with almost no effort at all. We gave him a good check over and weighed him and on he went with his day, his owner ready with the cat treats and praise. Good boy.
We then turned our attention to the kitty of the fairer sex. Experience has taught us that the feline ladies tend to give us an excellent run for our money, but my nurse and I were up for the challenge and so the game of hide and seek began.
Finding her was easy, she had climbed up into the underlining of the queen-sized bed leaving a perfect cat-shaped bump hanging down, when you looked underneath. We nudged the bump and she scuttled to the left. We nudged again and she scurried to the right, with no intention at all of coming back out of the tiny hole she had climbed up through.
This was beginning to look hopeless so we paused to regroup. As we did so, she did something I have never seen before. She popped out of the bed lining as calm as a cucumber and trotted around the room checking out the exits. She methodically looked at all the doors and realised there was no escape route to be found. She then smiled at us and hopped back up into the bed lining with a knowing look. I knew she had effortlessly outsmarted us and resuming the game would be pointless. She had made her bid for freedom and finding no way out, was now playing the long game of hiding in the bed, just out of reach. There was no way to tempt her out and so the game was won: clever kitty 1; vet 0.
We rescheduled the appointment for next week when the owner is to make sure the bedroom door is secured tightly. Ready for Round 2. Well played cat, well played.
Lucy Richardson graduated from Edinburgh University in 2005. She started CedarTree Vets in August 2012 with her husband Mark. They live at the practice with their two children, Ray and Stella, and their dog, two cats and two guinea pigs. Dr Lucy is also the FEI national head veterinarian for Bermuda