Friday, November 21, 2008

Special Needs Pets

I don’t now if anyone else watched this last night on the delightful channel 4 but it was one of the oddest TV shows I have seen for ages. ‘Special Needs Pets’ looking to the households who look after, well, pets with special needs. Now I am a bit of a cat lover and quite happily confess that I will possibly end up in a bungalow smelling of cat wee surrounded by forty cats (heaven help me when I do a feature at Battersea Dogs Home next week) in my jungle like back garden and home.

This show worried me, really worried me. Not in the fact that quite clearly these people loved their pets for indeed every single owner seemed greatly concerned for their pets but in some cases this bordered on keeping their pet for their own emotions and not for the fairness of the pet. Some stories were lovely for example Katie the Jack Russell whose brain wasn’t sending the right messages to her legs and was toppling over quite often. She was bought a wonderful dog like wheelchair for her back legs and was soon charging around the garden like a new born pup rather than a elderly dog and using a stair lift to get anywhere her wheels wouldn’t let her. I also loved the lady who might become a small icon of mine who was a veterinary nurse and who saved cats with special needs, she had twelve but wasn’t ‘a crazy cat lady, so don’t you say it’. I would say for ten of the cats it was fine, for two of them I had a moment of sadness one dragged its back legs and one just couldn’t walk properly and kept falling over. However she worked for a vet and so I thought she must have a good insight.

Two cases completely disturbed me. No not the masturbating parrot or the parrot who was balding from grief of the loss of one of his owners – did you know parrots are the pet most prone to mental problems? You learn something new every day.

The cases that disturbed me were one of a rabbit who was paralysed from the waist down and wore a nappy couldn’t walk and could only be kept in a fairly small cage, wrong, completely and utterly wrong. The woman made the valid point that you wouldn’t put a disabled person down, you could argue back some people choose to euthanasia in certain circumstances. The one out of all of them that to me seemed the cruellest was some idiot posh accountant whose cat had a horrific accident. The cat was left unable to go to the toilet by itself bar occasionally wetting itself. So the owner would pummel and push its stomach three times a day until it did its business. Now I have owned a lot of cats but even if you haven’t, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that if the cat is screaming and screaming while you have to empty its stomach its not really having a good quality of life… don’t even get me started on its nappy wearing. The owner said the cat had ‘dignity’ funny it didn’t want to cuddle him ever.

I know how hard it is to make the decision to put a pet down, I had to make the decision earlier in the year with Hoyden as she was clearly unhappy even though the vet said she could last a few more months, said vet did also make me feel like the worst cat owner in history for the second time, I’ll come back to the first shortly. It was horrible to choose whether your pet lives or dies but you need to be completely unselfish and think what’s best for the animal. I chose what was right for Hoyden even though it killed me inside.

There was one other couple I felt sorry for and that was the couple with the overweight cat Boris, I think it was called Boris? Their vet, like mine (this was when he first made me feel like the worst owner on earth with Thisbe Hoyden’s sister) told them that they were over feeding their incredibly fat cat and that they were killing it. I got really angry at this as Thisbe was huge, she made floorboards creak in fact I will add a picture so you all know how fat she was, and every diet I put her on she stayed fat. I played with her till the cows came home and to no avail. As you can now see…
People and pets, what can you do?

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