I usually hate working Saturdays. The most ungrateful people come in on Saturdays to have their pets worked on. It seems that many people like to wait till Saturday to see the vet with a sick cat, one that has been ill for over a week.
Except for today. Today it was worthwhile to work.
A cat came in for an exam/recheck on her issues with irritable bowl disease (IBD). Not only the owner came, but she toted her 2.5 year old girl with her. This small girl carried small toy cat carrier with her, complete with a small toy stuffed cat in it.
I go over the real cat's issues first, then turn to the young girl, whose name, I found out, was Olivia (really!)
"Is your kitty here for an exam too?" I ask.
She nods her head sagely and yanks out the stuffed toy. "Yes, Tiger needs a checkup". Mind you, her mother said she was only 2.5 years old, and the way she was talking was totally clear and completely determined as to what she wanted.
"Ok, let me weigh Tiger and take her temperature for you. Wow! did you know that Tiger weighs a whole 1/2 of a pound?!? What are you feeding this kitty? She is larger than your moms cat!"
Olivia looks at me and proceeds to tell me that Tiger eats with the other cat at home and shares out of the same dish. I continue doing my exam on this stuffed toy for her, even going so far as looking in its eyes with the opthalmoscope and switching sets to create a otoscope to look in its ears. "Looks nice and clean in there. Are you cleaning Tiger's ears every week?"
She nods again, big, alert eyes laser-locked on to mine. The entire time she was quiet and very serious. Her mom rolled her eyes and kept apologizing for taking up my time.
I pulled out my stethoscope and listened to the stuffed toy's chest. "Well?" she says, "Does his stuffing sound ok?"
"Sounds good to me. No murmur today", I say.
Her mom proceeds to tell me that her daughter came in during the last visit when they found a heart murmur on the other cat and for some odd reason chest sounds stuck with her.
To make this stuffed toy's exam complete for little Olivia, I pulled out an official, for-real exam paper, and a sticker that we use with a check off list of normal/abnormal next to each body function, and checked off what we found normal. After carefully considered consultation Olivia and I both agreed that Tiger needed to cut back on some of the food she was eating.
I return to the treatment room and the doctor turns to me and asks me why I was taking so long. "Well, you see, I had to examine Tiger" I said.
"We don't have a 'Tiger' for that appointment" he said, checking his appointment book.
I shook my head and sighed at him. Now I had to tell him the entire story about why I was late checking in an appointment. Later on, after he came out of the room after finishing the exam with the real cat, he said he was glad I checked over the stuffed toy. It kept the young girl quiet during the other cat's exam, and she got her 'pet' looked at. Her mother told the doctor that it made Olivia feel important.
On request, mind you, we solemnly made an appointment for Olivia and Tiger in six weeks (co-incidentally at the same time as Luna, Mom's non-stuffed cat) to start some vaccines and double-check the weight.
Best patient I had that day!