Friday, June 12, 2009

Maybe It's The Full Moon......

We had a full moon earlier this week, so I will just chalk our latest insanity up to it.

Poor Alison (my trusty #1 assistant for those of you who haven't met her) had to take a phone call this morning from a woman who took offense at the fact that we do not treat dogs. Well, actually, that's putting it rather charitably. She yelled and screamed at Alison for several minutes, demanding to know WHY we didn't do dogs and cursing us and saying we had a lot of nerve, and in general behaved like a crazy person. Perhaps that's what she was.

Maybe I should say a few words about the fact that we don't treat dogs, since clients of the more sane variety frequently ask me: why a CAT hospital?

In the beginning, veterinarians treated all manner of animals and mostly livestock. After WWII the small animal vets came about because of the increased urban and suburban population which had no livestock anywhere near. So we saw "dog and cat" hospitals, but in truth cats were ever only a small percentage of the patient load. In the late 1970's and early 1980's, veterinarians began to pay attention to cats, and the first feline-exclusive practices opened. So the concept was nothing new when I opened in 1991.

I had always enjoyed working on cats, and thought about having a cat hospital, and when I had the chance to buy the former Corbin Village Veterinary Clinic (closed for remodeling and most clients gone elsewhere for good) I saw the opportunity to have my dream practice, so I brought my housecall clients with me and opened up. This place is, in my opinion, far too cramped to fit dogs into it (and all their associated equipment and drugs) anyway.

Some people assume I don't treat dogs because I don't like them, but that is not the case. I love dogs. I just love treating cats more than the alternative, which is treating (mostly) dogs and (some) cats. And as for the rabbits and pocket pets such as rats, hamsters, and guinea pigs that I see very occasionally - they fit neatly into the practice without a lot of extra equipment or drugs, and so few vets know anything at all about them that I just took pity and decided to include them. But we are for all intents and purposes a feline-exclusive practice.

I am often described by others as a feline "specialist", but you won't hear me use that term for a very important reason: its use is reserved for those with a higher level of training in the field of their specialty who can and should be held to a higher medical and legal standard than their non-specialist colleagues. I have no special cat training beyond vet school electives and many hours of continuing education lectures on feline medicine and surgery, so I have no business holding myself out to be a "specialist" and will not do so. If my clients wish to think that focusing on cats all day, every day makes me a better cat vet than someone who sees mostly dogs, that's their prerogative.

Cats especially like cat hospitals. There are never any barking dogs on our premises; no dog smells, no inquisitive noses snuffling at poor terrified cats in carriers. We enjoy the relatively peaceful environment, too, and Alison appreciates never having to clean up "parvo poop", the bane of most veterinary staff's existences.

The benefits, on the whole, far outweigh the minor disadvantage of the occasional disgruntled and hostile dog owner.