Oh certainly we all anthropomorphize our pets, but diagnosing them with our human mental illnesses? This takes a seriously neurotic pet owner.
With the exception of the crazy cat lady (or man – this IS the 2000′s) a person doesn’t usually consider the mental health status of Fido or Fluffy.
Pets are family. Family that can on occasion smell rather badly, roll around in feces, bring home dead rodents to share as a snack and puke unidentifiable chunks on your best carpet. Or, if it’s already been a particularly hideous day for you, perhaps hurl into your slipper. Although, I dare any of you to find a human family member that has not done the same things. We just don’t over-analyze the mental status of said family member. Normally we just wonder ‘What the in the hell were they drinking? And how did they make it back to their own home?”
Okay, getting to the point. Really.
Tell a vet that your pet is, let’s say, listless. The vet will usually find a physical reason. Luckily for my family our vets have been about 95.5% correct or at least close enough to get a an identifiable diagnosis. Sometimes it’s been sad, but it’s usually been correct. The usual diagnosis with a new pet?
“That will be $100.00 Mrs.Badcrumble”.
Now suppose you have a new vet and you take in your newly acquired ‘rescue’ cat. The rescue employee (in my case a pushy customer who ran a Persian Rescue) has told you that said feline has been spayed, is declawed and is 8 years old. Perfect! I wanted a rescue animal. A cat with little chance of adoption, of finding a person to love it (in this case because the cat was middle-aged and not a kitten). I knew just how kitty felt.
You ‘meet’ the available kitty and she it is not only adorable but loves to be held and purrs incessantly. Your cold black heart melts and home she goes. The next day you make an appointment with a veterinarian. After the initial examination, by your new vet, you are informed that everything you’ve been told about this animal is false. Except that it is, in fact, a cat.
And very sick with the typical upper respiratory illness that strays seem to ALL have. You have the feline leukemia test done, get the vaccinations, purchase the medications, medicate the cat -and we all know how much fun pilling an animal is!- then hope the pathetic fuzzball doesn’t croak.
In fact the vet recommended putting the cat down as I’m not yet attached to it and the little beastie is so ill.
And by the way, this is why the cat didn’t mind being held, was totally mellow and was continually purring. She was about to fucking die. Guess deciding against Med School wasn’t such a bad idea.
Anyway, me, being a moron, said no to the doc’s suggestion of the Kevorkian route.
“That will be $350.00 Mrs. Badcrumble.”
A few years go by and Lizzie Borden had been perfectly healthy. My daughter had named her when she was 11. The daughter not the cat. The cat was actually about a year old. Certainly not 8.
But on occasion Lizzie exhibited signs of howling, blindly running about the house, jumping over furniture and meowing CONSTANTLY in the open window. This is just bizarre – especially since it’s a breed well-known for complete disinterest in anything. Except shedding and laying on your lap. Oh, and horking up hairballs.
Lizzie is a Tortie Persian.
Since I’d been told that Lizzie was not spayed I just figured that during these times she was in heat. She was an indoor cat so a litter of kittens was unlikely, I was on disability by this point (read: dirt poor), and had put off the spaying.
The years go by, she has her check-ups and shots every year, each time:
“That will be $100.00 Mrs.Badcrumble.”
Finally we move to a place with a large backyard but French Doors leading outside. No screen to keep the cat in. So I get some cash together and decide to have her spayed so she can go outside and do Persian cat things. Like stare at birdies. And shed.
She’s too inbred to hunt or even leap. She climbs up the side of the couch to have a seat. Seriously, she’s not all that bright. She is sweet though, purrs 24/7 (at least THAT stayed the same when the whole death diagnosis had cleared up) and digs me. And other people. Except kids.
Maybe she’s not that gorked.
So I take her to the vet to renew all of her shots, plus some new ones, and have her spayed.
Uhhhhm,ah, er…a second time. Yep. She actually had been spayed previously.
“That will be $100.00 Mrs.Badcrumble…you idiot.”
Oh wait! THIS is the point:
Naturally the seemingly bizarre behavior continued at odd intervals. Which got me thinking…
Our animal friends get cancer, urinary tract infections, osteoporosis, and a variety of every other known disease known to humankind. Then why the hell not mental illness?!
I’ve opened the handy DSM here by the bed and have diagnosed Lizzie Borden….
Lizzie Borden the Cat is a….. Rapid Cycling Bi-polar !
Hell, think of the money I’ve saved on veterinary or medical school and instead simply those spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on my own psychiatrists. And the old DSM my dad left to me.
She purrs virtually 24/7 (even in her sleep) disappears for long lengths at a time when she dreams of biting children (who doesn’t?), and barely eats. Lucky bitch. If she’d use her opposable dew claws for painting the house instead of cheating at poker a lot more would get done around here when she cycles.
My personal diagnosis (me not the cat) is Bi-Polar with Dysphoric Mania. A cross I bare stoically with proper medication…and G&Ts. I won’t paint the fucking house either. Wrong mania.
Gonna keep her away from my meds but damn, I would change places in a heart-beat.
What I’d give to run around the house howling, naked, losing weight by not eating and swatting at children with my claws out. All with the windows open!
Legally I mean.
-I’d like to thank Fishrobber for the inspiration on this one-
-I’d like to hit myself hit myself over the head with a pointy object for creating the crappy Lizzie/Phil Photoshop pic-