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CATastrophe at the vet today... is this normal?

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  • CATastrophe at the vet today... is this normal?

    I took my 2 dogs and 1 cat to the vet today for shots and check-ups before our big move in January. I've had the cat for 7 years and he is affectionate and easy to handle at home. My husband and I both carry him around and play with him all the time, and his favorite place to sit is across the top of my computer chair (I work from home, so I sit in this chair all day... usually with the cat right there.)

    Obviously I've taken my cat to the vet annually for all of his shots and check-ups and any other needed treatment. He has never been any trouble.... until TODAY.

    Today, he turned into a terrifying maniac. Seriously - he was hissing at the tech on the way out of his crate. He did a convincing impression of a clawing, spitting tornado when they tried to take his temperature. His actual exam and shots entailed 2 techs, 2 towels, some sort of lasso thing around his neck - I was terribly embarrassed and he was obviously extremely unhappy about it all. (God bless my vet and his office - they handled him calmly and capably and did not seem perturbed at all.)

    Thankfully, the dogs were angels as usual. But I am mystified by the cat. I've had him for seven years (adopted as a kitten) and he's NEVER behaved like this, ever. Not even at previous vet visits - and we have been at this vet for 3 years, so he's been there a few times before with nothing like today's performance.

    He's the only cat I've ever owned, so I really don't know if this is a normal thing. Everyone at the vet clinic was very understanding and reassuring but I'm afraid they may have just been trying to be nice. I usually take great pride in having well behaved animals... so you can imagine that I was completely mortified by the possessed-by-Satan act today.

    So, cat experts.... how dreadful is this and what can I do about it? I would like to keep him from maiming and/or killing any innocent veterinarians or vet techs in the future.

  • #2
    Please read my post about my sweet house kitty that I had to have PTS yesterday - yes, this normal cat behavior

    My other cat (RIP since May) was sweet at home and sweet at the vet. Murphy was sweet at home and the cat from hell (vet's nickname, though I agree!) at the vet office.

    Even when they came to my house yesterday, as soon as they came in poor old Murphy started hissing and growling at them. Thankfully he was declawed but any vet visit meant sedation for him - it just wasn't safe to handle him otherwise. I just limited his visits to absolute necessity.

    Probably not what you wanted to hear but at least you know you're not alone!
    ~* Be kind to one another *~


    • #3
      Just a thought...they may have had to put an animal down & the kitty could smell it. That can cause that kind of reaction from a cat. Also, the cat may have just had a meltdown at the vet...they do that to
      Certified Spiritual Medium/ Animal Communicator


      • #4
        Veterinarian technician here! That's normal for your cat to act differently. There may have been an intact cat in the room, a cat my have urinated in there previously, he could smell a dog he didn't know. There are a whole host of reasons!
        --Luck is what happens when preparedness meets opportunity--


        • #5
          LOL! Another Vet Tech here...it is normal. Some are good, some are awful and try to kill us...some have good days and bad days, No big deal.


          • #6
            You are most fortunate that your cat has behaved perfectly for seven years; many of us have had cats who were typically maniacs when at the vet office. Although there may be reasons for his behavior today, it is possible he has decided to behave in a wild manner at times. Hoping this was the only time he does this. I always have to wrap cats up just to put them in their carriers for a vet visit.


            • #7
              Former vet tech here. Yes even the best behaved most loving kitteh can turn into a whirling hurricane of teeth and claws.

              Heck the kitteh love of my life had to have exploratory surgery a few years ago I induced prepped and maintained her during surgery but the tech charged with recovering the patients banged on the suite doors and insisted I come finish recovering her because the second she started to wake up still intubated she tried to go at the other tech.
              "I would not beleive her if her tongue came notorized"


              • Original Poster

                Oh.... thank you all for sharing your thoughts!!! I was so embarrassed about my stone cold killer cat and worrying that I should somehow have trained him better!

                Honestly, I think he hissed more today during our vet visit than he has in the rest of his life, total, up to today. He's usually very mellow but today he was FIERCE! I didn't even think about him possibly smelling something that he didn't like - he does not usually love other cats in general (never tried to hurt them, but likes to pretend they do not exist) so maybe he did smell something that put him on his guard.

                I wonder too - usually I am NOT so foolish as to take them all to the vet at one time. Today my husband was supposed to be off of work and come along to help, but he ended up going to the office to handle an emergency... so I was a solo act at the vet visit. Usually I am more help in holding Finnegan or reassuring him, and today I was distracted, keeping the dogs out of the way (they were very good, but two big dogs, 1 cat, 2 vet techs, 1 vet, and me in the exam room.... led to rather crowded conditions!) The one time he was slightly more calm, he was wrapped in a towel but his face was partially uncovered and he could see me and I could talk to him. Not that it excuses his behavior, but I wonder if the fact that I wasn't involved was part of the problem? At one point he got loose and ran right to me.... I felt like a bad mom.

                Anyway... lesson learned: no more circus style, 3 pet visits to the vet! I am relieved to hear that my cat is not an exceptionally terrible person, but I will do my best to mitigate in the future. Fortunately he has returned to his normal sweet disposition since returning home!


                • #9
                  Yes, it's normal catness.

                  But looking at the causes help, too. Besides the stuff in the office that you can't control, a piece of this may have come from him being part of "the circus" you describe and having time in his crate to get properly scared before you even took him out.

                  The solution, should you be so inclined, is to take the cat to the vet, by himself, same carrier, same ritual enough that he doesn't bother to get worked up about what might happen once he's there.

                  Oh, and this time, as soon as he submitted y'all stuck a cold stick up his bum. So he wasn't exactly wrong to wig out, now was he?

                  There are other training techniques you can use, should you guys become regulars at the vet's office.

                  For now, thank your lucky stars that the hisses were used on professional cat wrestlers and move on.
                  The armchair saddler
                  Politically Pro-Cat


                  • Original Poster

                    Actually MVP, he never did get a stick up the bum. He was so crazed when he came out of the crate that the vet used the ear thermometer. Apparently that only gets brought out for "special cases"!

                    We might have to start "crate and travel" practice though. If this is all normal, that's fine, but I feel bad for the little guy that he was so distraught about it all.


                    • #11
                      I have a "special case" kitty too, but she's the tooth and claw whirlwind at home and a calm, docile thing at the vets. Go figure!

                      I think extenuating circumstances rule this one -- who knows what happened in that room before you got there and/or what your kitty could smell on the vet and vet techs. Also, do you keep any towels or the like in the carrier? Is there any chance he got freaked out before even getting to the vets because of residual smells?


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by outside__line View Post
                        Actually MVP, he never did get a stick up the bum. He was so crazed when he came out of the crate that the vet used the ear thermometer. Apparently that only gets brought out for "special cases"!

                        We might have to start "crate and travel" practice though. If this is all normal, that's fine, but I feel bad for the little guy that he was so distraught about it all.
                        Right now, then, he's blogging to other cats about the virtues of going psycho at the vet. It spared his booty; evidence that his strategy was correct!

                        The practice is good, if a PITA. Also, cats are just as unhappy about the wrestling match before humans give up as the actual assault on butt or ear. That's why the wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am speed and efficiency of vet techs is *so* admirable. Watch 'em work. So your job during the practices is to imitate that. Make everything business-like (and a bit sympathetic) and you'll give kitteh the right experience.

                        Cats are smart enough to realize that if a human is calm and gives them "We *will* get this done" vibe, they should just come quietly. That vibe goes a long way, but you must anchor it in your soul. Cats have good BS detectors and in a "someone might die in this situation" power struggle with a person, a kitteh will choose his own way and his fight, just as a matter of self-preservation. Having you as kitteh's "special person" there does less good than having you there as the matter-of-fact handler. After all, "special person" is implicated in the pre-game windup to the vet's office.
                        The armchair saddler
                        Politically Pro-Cat


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by mvp View Post
                          Cats are smart enough to realize that if a human is calm and gives them "We *will* get this done" vibe, they should just come quietly. That vibe goes a long way, but you must anchor it in your soul.
                          I just WISH this philosophy came to claw trimming time. After 12 years of battling it out twice a month, "gittin' 'er done", and not once ever hitting the quick, it's still The End Of The World whenever I have to trim my old girl's claws. It's like she thinks it's finally the time I'm going to detach her paws from her legs.....


                          • #14
                            My cat, Snickerdoodle the Demon Cat from Hell, had a vet file that was covered (inside and out) with highlighted warnings like "caution", "bites", "warning".....The very few times she had to stay overnight at the vet they would post a sign that said "do not touch, only owner handles". She would hiss and spit and growl at the vet/techs but then jump in my arms and purr when I came. Really miss that cat. The Chinese got her with their first round of tainted pet food years ago.
                            Crayola Posse - Pine Green
                            Whinnie Pine (June 4, 1977 - April 29, 2008)
                            Autumn Caper (April 27, 1989 - May 24, 2015)
                            Murphy (April 28, 1994 - May 5, 2017)


                            • #15
                              Last time Jesse James had a dental, they handed over his carrier with a "here, take your cat!" Apparently it took three people to get him in the carrier...


                              • Original Poster

                                After a day of reflection, I am more thankful than ever for our wonderful vet, and beginning to have fun telling the story. All of the people that have met Finnegan at home are suitably impressed at the tale of his antics. (He is known for greeting visitors with extreme affection, as though they were long lost friends!)

                                I am very glad to hear that he's not a freak of nature. Thank you all!


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by VaqueroToro View Post
                                  I just WISH this philosophy came to claw trimming time. After 12 years of battling it out twice a month, "gittin' 'er done", and not once ever hitting the quick, it's still The End Of The World whenever I have to trim my old girl's claws. It's like she thinks it's finally the time I'm going to detach her paws from her legs.....
                                  Is your cat smart? Does she have a strong ego? If so, you might need a quick and firm CTJ meeting. That is rarely a fitting prescription for a cat.

                                  But if she has decided that once a month you are going to torture her for no reason... and it makes no difference whether she's nice or not, you with the larger brain and more strength need to change it up. So she thinks she's "being nice" because she didn't kill you. She also thinks it makes no difference what she does to earn better treatment because you did the "It will get done. Nothin' personal" thing right.

                                  IMO, good CTJ meetings for cats are very, very hard to do well. It takes a Machievelli of a cat for this to be the right tactic.
                                  The armchair saddler
                                  Politically Pro-Cat


                                  • #18
                                    My old cat was so nasty at the vet that she was used as an object lesson for new receptionists/techs. The day a tech was able to take her out of the kennel without full riot gear on, the vet called me even before she did the exam to tell me she was deathly ill and would be staying the night.

                                    My new kitten -- who is standoffish but sweet enough on her own terms -- was apparently so evil for the vet that she got mistaken for a feral cat. I got a long lecture from the tech about informing people before bringing in feral animals and using humane traps instead of regular kennels so they could safely sedate before handling.
                                    She Gets Lost


                                    • #19
                                      Probably the change...going with the dogs and not by himself. Also probably picking up on your nerves regarding the impending move.

                                      BTW, love the name Finnegan...is he an orange cat? My first cat (I was 7) was
                                      named Finnegan. An orange tomcat...named after a book called Finnegan II about a NY policeman and an orange cat that I'd read just before my Finnegan
                                      showed up on our doorstep.


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by mvp View Post
                                        Is your cat smart? Does she have a strong ego? If so, you might need a quick and firm CTJ meeting. That is rarely a fitting prescription for a cat.
                                        I wouldn't call her smart, but she is definitely proud and not afraid to tell you when she's had enough of whatever, whether it's petting, brushing, being annoyed by the kitten, etc. She'll growl at/smack the kitten, but when I do her claws, she bites and turns on the blood-curdling "I'm going to kill you" wail. I adopted her when she was about 1 yr old, so I didn't have the opportunity to play with her paws while still a kitten like I did the little guy. She was also extremely violent -- took me about two years to be able to pet her head directly without being lunged at like prey.

                                        I've trying being nice, but firm (giving her head rubs and a pause every time I successfully trimmed a claw), doing a towel wrap (that went over like a fart in church), with her sitting up in my lap or lying like a baby in my arms/lap. She doesn't mind having the backs trimmed, it's the fronts she detests. It takes me about two days to get the paws done -- one for the backs and one of the fronts, and another for the other front.

                                        The CTJ meetings I've given her in the past (and have given to the little guy too) is usually a well-placed rump slap with enough momentum to push her over then turned around and walked away/ignore completely. Or if they're in my lap and being jerks, they get dumped unceremoniously to the ground and I leave them. Hard to do that when you're trying to get the claws trimmed.

                                        Both of them use scratching posts (she'll only use the carpet kind), but I wish there was something like that I could rig up to blunt the points on the claws.