On the Legal Majority of Cats

This week, during a routine checkup for one of our cats, who, over the past few months, has had some health issues for the first time in her relatively young life , we got horrifying and completely unexpected news: Mosie is in heart failure.

Yesterday, after the Vet examined Mosie, we were told that some things had improved — her blood pressure (lower), fluid in chest cavity (gone), and her body temperature (higher though still below normal) — but other things remained unchanged — enlarged arteries and heart, and, more specifically, her labored breathing, which is causing her discomfort.

Because she can’t decide now if Mosie has a lung problem which is causing her heart failure, a heart condition that is causing her breathing difficulties, or both, the Vet decided to try a broncho-dilator for a few days, to see if Mosie’s breathing becomes less labored, making her more comfortable.

When I went into the pharmacy to pick up the prescription, the world turned into an Absurdist tragi-comedy.

I’m not even going to discuss the Pharmacist consultation, where the probably-just-graduated pharmacist bombarded me with all the possible dangerous side-effects of the drug I’d be taking, then got very upset that I would be giving the medication — albeit in extremely small doses — to a cat, and insisted that my Vet — despite her advanced training, residency, and practice in the treatment of Small Animals, and despite the fact that she is a Specialist in said treatment of Small Animals — must have written down the wrong prescription, and did I know that “absolutely no alcohol should be given to the cat if she was going to be taking this medication?”

No, I’m not going to discuss the Pharmacist’s panic not only because I trust our Vet, but because I’d just been through an experience concerning said medication with the Pharmacy Assistant and the Head Pharmacist that reminded me so much of Beckett’s Waiting for Godot that I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry, or argue the finer philosophical points of the differences between humans and cats.

This is what happened.

When the Pharmacy Assistant brought Mosie’s medication, she asked if I had taken it before because if I hadn’t, she conscientiously explained, they were legally required to provide a  “Pharmacist Consultation.”

Unless I signed a form indicating that I declined the aforementioned legally required Consultation.

I had already told them my own name, which is not even close to Mosie, not even as a nickname.

Granted, a Vet’s prescription pad looks exactly like any other Physician’s prescription pad. Except for the silhouettes of a cat, dog, bird, reptile, and horse displayed prominently across the top. And the rather large DVM printed after her name. And the words Veterinary Hospital written after the name of the clinic.

The fact that Mosie’s name was written like this on the prescription — “Mosie” Szeman — apparently didn’t catch the Assistant’s eye. Perhaps she just thought all doctors write quotation marks around their patients’ first names.

“It’s not for me,” I said. “It’s for our cat Mosie.”

“Sign that,” she said, indicating a screen and handing me a stylus.

This is what was on the screen:

◊ By checking this box, I acknowledge that I am the parent or legal guardian of the child who will be taking this medication, and have the authority to administer said medication to minor child.
◊ By checking this box, I acknowledge that I am NOT the parent or legal guardian of the child who will be taking this medication, and do NOT have the authority to administer said medication to minor child.

(I don’t even want to get into the legal, moral, or ethical ramifications of the second statement on that form, which, had I checked it, would not have prevented me from obtaining the medication…)

“Sign,” she said again, tapping the screen.

“Mosie’s a cat,” I said.

“How old is she?”

“Nine.”

“Then you have to sign.”

“But,” I said, despite the increasingly long line of customers forming behind me, “she’s a cat.”

The very competent and self-assured Assistant then turned around and shouted out to her boss, an elderly Pharmacist who never even looked up or stopped counting pills as he listened to her question, then answered.

“Does she have to sign this Minor Child Legal Form if Mosie is a cat?” said the Assistant.

“How old’s the cat?”

Without further ado, I signed.

Mosie, sleeping on her favorite pillow

Mosie, sleeping on her favorite pillow

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Filed under Cats, Classics, Humor, Memoir

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