She was the first face most people saw when they entered the veterinary clinic and everyone knew her name. Some days she was friendly and eagerly greeted those who entered, other days she didn’t even bother to look up. No matter her mood, everyone loved her. She was Chloe the Clinic Cat. Most of our clients just saw her as the cute torti cat that slept in a ball on the counter and enjoyed the occasional pat from someone as they waited to check out. They often commented that she was living the life, relaxing all day and being showered with attention. But what they don’t realize is that a clinic cat is so much more than that.
A client comes in to pick up their cat’s antibiotic prescription. They look at the veterinary technician like they are from another planet when the tech tells them to give “Fluffy” a pill twice a day. So in steps the clinic cat and her placebo sugar pill to demonstrate just how easy it can be. Why is it always the fractious cat or the aggressive dog that is diagnosed with diabetes? There’s no way that pet is going to let the veterinarian demonstrate how to give them an injection. Once again, the clinic cat wakes up and gets a few injections of saline. There’s a new team member at the clinic. They aren’t confident in their restraint techniques or drawing blood from the jugular vein. Here kitty kitty…. They haven’t done many dental cleanings, either. It looks like the clinic cat could use another dental.
A group of very enthusiastic second grade Boy and Girl Scouts need a tour of the clinic to earn their badges. But how can you entertain them for an hour and keep them out of trouble? The clinic cat sits quietly on the exam room table as ten excited children take turns putting a stethoscope on her chest and hear an animal’s heart beat for the very first time.
A representative is here with a new piece of equipment we have to try. Let’s try it on the clinic kitty! The repair man just fixed the x-ray processor and we need to make sure it works. The clinic cat is the most radiographed animal in town. This new prescription food is so delicious, even the pickiest of cats will love it! The clinic cat gets a new diet.
The clinic needs to boost their Facebook following and have a familiar face featured regularly. The poor clinic kitty gets dressed up for every holiday for the weekly post. While we are at it, let’s educate people – we can share clinic stories and experiences from the clinic cat’s point of view. The clinic cat “writes” a blog.
A family is nervous because their sick pet was just taken to the treatment room, the dreaded “back” for some tests. They calm their nerves and pass the time by petting the clinic cat. She knows they need comfort so she purrs and rubs her face against their hands. She sits patiently with them until they are called back into the exam room for test results.
There’s a very sick, anemic cat that needs a blood transfusion. There is no blood bank nearby and the family can’t take their cat to the specialty hospital two hours away. The clinic cat steps up and donates blood, saving another cat’s life.
Chloe was so much more than a sleeping ball of torti fur at the front desk. She was a teacher, a helper, a counselor, a friend, a local Facebook celebrity, and she was a life saver. She wasn’t just my cat, she was the entire veterinary team’s cat. She was the clients’ cat. She was Chloe the Clinic Cat. She leaves a hole in the hearts of many and some very big paws to fill if another cat moves in.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the DrAndyRoark.com editorial team.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Jennifer Shepherd received her DVM from Colorado State University in 2000. She is currently the owner and head veterinarian at Cloquet Animal Hospital, a small animal practice in Cloquet, MN.
When she isn’t working, she enjoys spending time with her husband Paul, three children, and her dog Coal.