“The cat’s sneakiness, unpredictability and selfishness set my teeth on edge”, the words of a British vet.
A British vet says that he detests cats. He detests them because he fears them. He loathes their sneakiness, unpredictability and selfishness which set his teeth on edge. These are the words often used by cat haters.
This veterinarian who so detests the domestic cat has been providing treatment to them, amongst other animals, for 40 years and in that time he clearly has never taken enough time to understand the domestic cat because if he had he would not describe them as sneaky, unpredictable and selfish!
One of the veterinarian’s problems is this: a fear of cats, an unreasonable fear, leading him to believe that the domestic cat will sense that he is fearful of the cat and also sense that he loathes the cat and in so doing the cat will loathe him in return. His fear of the cat then leads him to believe that if the cat in his consulting room loathes him, he might attack him.
Without being too critical about this veterinarian, it is a series of endless mistakes, one reinforcing the other. I would have thought he could have done much more to break this cycle. In fact, I would say that it is a veterinarian’s duty to understand, to a certain degree, the behaviour and characteristics of their patients in order to better treat them.
I do not believe that a veterinarian can provide first-class treatment to an animal if he or she loathes and fears the animal he is treating.
He believes that the cat can smell that his sweat glands are working overtime and from that detects his fear. As mentioned, his fear is then heightened by the fear of an attack after the cat has smelt his fear. A circuitous emotional problem that could be broken.
I don’t like it when anybody, never mind a veterinarian, describes a cat as “selfish and sneaky”. Surely these adjectives are designed to describe people?
The domestic cat is not deliberately sneaky. The word means to employ “underhand tactics”, to be scheming and devious. It also means dishonest, and trustworthy and doubledealing. These are not adjectives that can be used to describe the domestic cat.
The domestic cat in a veterinarian’s consulting room is going to be fearful. The veterinarian has the upper hand. The cat may behave defensively aggressively but is quite as likely to behave in a pliable and compliant manner because of nervousness.
Wouldn’t it have been better if the veterinarian in question had spent some time before he became veterinarian to desensitise himself to the domestic cat? There are many methods that can be used to alter one’s perceptions about things that one is frightened of. There are millions of people in England who are not frightened of the domestic cat which must tell him that there is no need to be frightened and that the fear he has is irrational.
This veterinarian’s frank admission that he is fearful of the cat begs the question whether there are many other veterinarians who feel the same way and whether there may be a problem amongst many veterinarians in treating the domestic cat adequately if there is a substantial percentage who, if not fearful, are at least unsure when working with the domestic cat as a patient.
Might it be that the irrational fear of the domestic cat has played a part in the non-therapeutic declawing of the domestic cat in the United States? The main reason is obviously financial profit but this may be supported by an irrational fear.
People who do fear the domestic cat fear the cat’s claws perhaps more than the teeth. A cat is very quick in the use of his or her forelimbs when attacking.
Finally, one aspect of the fear of the domestic cat may be historical. The default position regarding people’s emotions in respect of the domestic cat may be of fear because going back millennia there was a time when people lived under the risk of being attacked by wild cat species such as the lion who at that time roamed over large parts of the planet including Europe. This fear may be hardwired into the human brain but people who have become familiar with the cat and understand him/her have conquered that fear.
Cats hating the vet’s clinic
I don’t know the percentage but clearly quite a decent number of cats loathe the veterinary clinic. Some people can’t get their cats to the clinic and ask the veterinarian to come to them. One reason why cats are taken to the vets less than dogs is because of the obvious: it can be almost traumatic for a person to take their cat to the clinic.
Sometimes it seems that cats are waging a battle against veterinarians and surely this is one reason why the British veterinarian I mention above detests cat patients so much.
Some clinics are doing something about it by making their workplaces more cat-friendly by for sample separating cats from dogs in waiting areas.
Why is the domestic cat so much more difficult to take to a veterinarian’s clinic then the dog? One reason must be that the domestic cat is more independent and less needy and often forms a relationship, a very close relationship, with their human caretaker, which could be the extent of their human relationships. Any interaction with strangers is troublesome for the domestic cat.
Another reason is that cats become very settled in a home and perhaps the area around the home where they live. This is their home range and they understand it and are familiar with it. Take them out of their home range and familiar surroundings and they become anxious.
Another reason is that you have to put the cat into a cage to take them to the vet and the cage becomes synonymous with unpleasantness for the domestic cat and of course in any case the cage is unpleasant.
Then we have the journey, most cats don’t like being in cars. When you’re in cars you have noise and cats don’t like noise, certainly noise that they do not recognise or are unfamiliar with.
Then of course a cat will remember the experience he/she had last time they were at the veterinarian’s clinic, which wasn’t that pleasant and so all the steps leading up to that trip are recalled and associated with the preparations, creating tensions and difficulties.
Perhaps of all these reasons, the most important is that, although cats are sociable because they have learned to be, they are not pack animals but essentially solitary whereas the dog is a pack animal and used to being around people and therefore is more accepting of the veterinarian visit. I’m sure though that dogs also have their problems in going to the vet if, at the end of the day, the treatment was painful.
If, therefore, both the cat and the vet are fearful of each other at the outset you have a recipe for a difficult encounter and more fear in the future. Perhaps the British veterinarian who is fearful of cats may have had his fears enhanced and reinforced through the fearful state of the domestic cat patient that he treated for 40 years.