Oh there’s no place like a veterinarian’s home for the holidays
ʻCause you wake up with cat hair in your mouth
You will always ﬁnd the sunshine of a doggy face
Licking you and smelling like the kitty box.
1 Rodent + 1 Bird + 5 Cats = Fun Times
Yes, another holiday under wraps, and my guests took pleasure in wonderful food, drink, merriment, a free-range mole trying to ﬁnd his way out of the five-cat death trap set for him in the living room, and the live bird that was brought into that same room ﬂying into the candles alight on the mantle.
The conversation was getting dull anyway, so I livened things up with my famous pot-on-top-of-rodent trick to trap and release him: You calmly get the rodent cornered in a room with as little furniture as possible. Place pot on top of rodent, avoiding all body parts. Slide old album cover (vinyl, that is) under pot without lifting pot from ﬂoor. Deliver rodent to the great outdoors. Remember to wash out the pot before whisking the bechamel sauce in it.
Wild birds present a greater challenge, but itʼs more dramatic for your guests to watch. Try to calmly usher bird into a corner under an open piece of furniture, like a china closet. Using a childʼs bug catcher, which should be readily available in your home, or a dish towel, catch the bird. The bug catcher requires the use of the album cover again, which is very tricky with a small songbird. The dish towel requires more ﬁnesse but is safer and more foolproof.
I cupped the little tufted titmouse in my holiday tea towel (partridge in a pear tree for theme-related purposes), and he ﬂew away as if nothing had happened. A quick exam revealed a little blood by the keel, but the cat missed the air sac. I think Tweety was going to be ﬁne.
Trap and Release
Which brings this veterinarian to my ﬁrst pet peeve as my beeper seems to go on high test for the holidays. When in doubt, donʼt beep your veterinarian about wildlife when the most beneﬁcial thing for the creature is usually releasing it into the wild as soon as possible. A gasping chipmunk with one leg severed and in your catʼs mouth does require a death as humane and quick as possible.
But if Alvin is on his back with his feet up looking at your cat, he may just be playing possum. Getting him out the front door could mean a long and happy munk life. (I should have had the Alvin & the Chipmunks album to slide under him instead of Simon & Garfunkel — better karma.)
Wild birds can be stunned, but if you get them outside and open your hand, wait one to two seconds and many will ﬂy away. If they ﬂutter or drop to the ground, thatʼs not a good sign and trying to nurse them back to health is often futile but might be worth a try.
Frequently, a veterinarian who sees exotics may be able to answer some questions about wildlife rehabilitation. Phone calls at 2 a.m. about a mouse your cat just brought in are sometimes met with a cranky attitude. Good information can be found on many websites.
When Relatives Attack Too
So back to our holiday festivities! Once the wildlife has been removed from your party, not including some of your guests perhaps, many bumps in the road can still arise when you open your pet-friendly home to some not-so-pet-friendly guests.
In our next chat, letʼs talk about those pesky pet allergies, real or imagined. Is your cousin Lisa really allergic to cats, or does she just hate you?
And what about pet food on the counter? How else is your 20 pound cat going to graze through the holidays if cat food on the ﬂoor means itʼs dog food! Letʼs get real, people. Cats love to eat from a height and clean their well-nourished face from the countertop, in front of your Golden Retriever, sitting, drooling, just waiting for one piece of Fancy Feast to leap off the counter and ﬁnd its way to the ﬂoor.
If your mother thinks cat food on the counter is disgusting, make a private list in your head of everything you ﬁnd disgusting about your mother, smile serenely, then pet the cat on the counter.
Pets arenʼt people. Theyʼre better.