Not All Kitties Are Created Equal

Forrest Gump said, “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.” Well, sometimes veterinary medicine can be this way as well. We never know what we’re gonna get or see on any particular day. Several years ago, while I was working in a mixed animal practice in northern Arizona, I answered an incoming phone call. The staff was small at this hospital, so any of us would answer the phone. I happened to be passing by, so I picked up.

“Good morning, this is ABC Veterinary Hospital, how may I help you?”

A women’s voice responded saying, “Hi, my name is Linda and I was wondering if you vaccinate kitty cats?”

“Yes we do,” I said.

She followed with, “Even big kitty cats?” 

In my mind, I was thinking this must be a Maine Coon cat or perhaps an overweight cat, maybe 15-16 pounds or possibly larger. My answer to Linda, with a chuckle was, “Yes, we can vaccinate big kitty cats.”

“Great!” she responded. “My kitty gets nervous when riding in the car and I might need a hand getting him out when we arrive. Is this possible?” 

“That would be no problem. When you arrive come inside without your kitty and someone will come out and give you any help you may need,” I said.

Linda inquired, “Can I come in today?” 

“Yes, how about 11:30 this morning?”

Linda was thrilled. “Great, see you then,” she said.

The morning continued with us seeing routine appointments. Linda arrived at the front door promptly at 11:30 a.m.

“Hi, I’m Linda. I called earlier this morning about my kitty needing his vaccines and might need help getting him out of my van. Can someone come out with me?”

Since I fielded the call and knew what she was talking about, I volunteered to go out with her. We both walked outside to her van. She slid open the van door and much to my surprise there was indeed a big kitty in her van, in a harness and on a leash. When I refer to a big kitty, I should mention that this cat was in fact a 63 pound, 4-month-old African Lion.

Yes, this kitty was a LION!

You can imagine the shock I was experiencing at that moment. I was as much in shock as in awe and very intrigued. We escorted the “kitten/cub” into the clinic and into one of our exam rooms without any problems at all. This created quite a stir in the staff present that day!

As it turned out, he was a friendly, inquisitive kitten that just happened to be in a 63 pound body. However, his front paws were as large as the outside diameter of my right hand, fingertips flattened out on the table. Pretty impressive! We played with this “kitten” for about an hour and he did receive his vaccinations as promised to Linda.

We helped Linda load her lion cub back into her van and off she drove, down our gravel drive, back to her home. As it turned out, it was a wonderful experience…thank goodness. Something none of us present that day will forget. We also won’t forget that if someone asks us on the phone if we vaccinate big kitty cats, we will follow up with the question, “You mean domestic cats, right?”

-Photo Credit: From flickr by Jimbo Wales

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