By Chantal Acosta, DVM
One of the smartest and most affectionate cats I’ve ever met in my profession was Berl, the clinic cat. He was a scrawny, orange tabby who had been abandoned years prior. So he had come to know the clinic as his home and everyone who worked there as his family. He was often found keeping the receptionist company by napping inside the box that was intended for records ready to be re-filed or keeping me company by snoozing on the cushion in my office that was meant for my dog. He was extremely affectionate and would allow us to carry him on his back like a human infant. He also loved “holding hands” while you were carrying him—he would reach out his little white paws and place them on your hands and start kneading.
When he became ill, I was usually the one who had to draw blood from him and administer his treatments. He handled this with as much dignity as he possibly could, but then he would leave me a little gift in my office afterwards to make his feelings on the subject clear (the puddle of urine next to my dog’s bed was his delicate way of letting us know that he thought we were rude human beings). We agreed.
The last year of his life, Berl’s kidneys were failing to the point where he needed an injection of fluids under his skin once a day to keep him hydrated, which we usually did at 3 p.m. We fed him treats while he was receiving the fluids to distract him. He loved the treats so much that within a couple of weeks, at exactly 3 p.m., he would trot back to the treatment area and demand his fluids by meowing very loudly. It was actually more of a screech than a meow because Berl thought we humans were way too slow to respond to his demands, and he became more impatient in his older age. I still wonder how he learned how to tell time.
Berl passed away on Christmas Eve eight years ago. We held a memorial for him at the clinic and exchanged Berl stories. Although he has been gone for so long, we all still talk about him and miss him greatly.
Chantal Acosta is a house call vet. Learn more about her practice at vetlovespet.com.
Photo credit: UnSplash