The big nasty man with the thermometer

The big nasty man with the thermometer

So, Bonnie and Clyde, now about eleven weeks old, went for their first visit to the vet. And survived.

It’s important to have pets immunized, and this first vaccination was for feline distemper, cat common cold, respiratory disease and chlamydophila felis. There’ll be boosters and other vaccinations later, but some of these diseases are nasty and need to be prevented. The harmless-sounding cat cold, or “feline viral rhinotracheitis” to give it its medical name, can, in young cats, damage the mucus membranes leaving the animal very susceptible to future infection. One form of respiratory disease (“virulent systemic feline calicivirus”) has a mortality rate of two in three.

So we took the poor, unsuspecting creatures to the vet, which is a ten-minute drive from here — an eternity when they're yelling their lungs out. And incidentally, here’s a tip: don’t put cats’ carrying boxes away when not in use. Leave them out, encourage your cats to see them as normal, and they won’t panic and hide every time you go looking for them.

It was easy enough to get them in their boxes, although it may not be quite so easy a second time. They were at first rather bemused as we carried them downstairs, outside and into the car, but as soon as we got going and things were noisy and bumpy and nothing very interesting was happening, the cat chorus began. But that’s something you have to live through, although you have to have a heart of stone not to be moved to pity by the wailing.

The wailing stopped when the car stopped, and Bonnie and Clyde looked on with nervous interest as new and unfamiliar sights paraded past their boxes. One at a time, Bonnie first, they were freed from their boxes, poked and prodded and then returned.

It wasn’t bad at first. Bonnie didn’t particularly enjoy having her ears peered into, but bore the indignity with fortitude. The thermometer, however, was a nasty surprise and she didn’t take that without a struggle. The actual injection went almost unnoticed.

While Bonnie had climbed out of her box alone to investigate her new surroundings (and then wished she hadn’t), Clyde had to be lifted out, but then submitted himself to medical examination with much more patience.

And suddenly it was all over, my wife was several euros poorer and we were back in the car, accompanied by variations on the theme of “meow”. Which again stopped when the car stopped, and we could pinpoint the exact moment they realised where they were. They emerged from their boxes purring, bore us no malice at all and went to sleep after all the excitement.

All in all, not a horrible experience.