Neil McIntoshLook, I know I do what I do because of the way I feel about animals but I’d be the first to admit that cats can be a serious pain in the neck. I mean, they can drive you mad. They’re irritating, obnoxious, aloof, dismissive, untrainable, unreasonable and unfathomable. They are worse than Jeremy Clarkson. When you want them to stay in, they want out. When you want them to come in, they stay out. You can’t get them into a cat carrier without losing your patience, your dignity, reams of skin and pints of blood and then, when you finally get where you’re going, you can’t get them back out unless you dismantle the carrier with a makeshift screwdriver.

Oh but it gets worse. Just when you’ve discovered their favouritest food of all time; the only food that has ever had them purring and curling round your legs with pleasure and they’re looking at you like they actually really adore you instead of the usual ‘I am planning your assassination’ look and you’ve gone and bought a hundred tins of it because it was on Special Offer, what happens? They won’t eat it anymore! Really! I mean, can they read “Special Offer” or what?

And then there is the really serious stuff. Like you just can’t stop them wandering wherever they choose. Now I know that cats are territorial but why can’t their territory just be simple. Why can’t they just recognise your garden and use your wall, or fence, or whatever to define their territory. Things would be much simpler. There would be less catfights. Traffic accidents would plummet. There would be no falling out with your neighbour just because Fifi or Tigger absolutely insists on pooing on their beautiful crumbly topsoil.

Because that’s genuinely what drives some people mad about cats. Despite the fact that even the law agrees that you can’t control their meanderings and therefore, unlike with dogs, places no onus on an owner to be responsible for their cat’s movements, some people just can’t accept that. And rarely, in my experience, do these people vent their anger on the owner. No. They attack the cat. Which is probably why old Toby appeared at the surgery last week, feeling crankier than normal and with a large bulge on his side. To be frank, Toby isn’t the easiest of cats. He needs to be sedated to be groomed and to have his nails clipped. He’s not nasty, he’s just got, well, um, character. This time, it was impossible to even get near him.

General anaesthesia, X rays and surgery showed us why. He had two ribs that were so badly broken that they had to be removed. He had a 12cm tear in his abdominal muscle that took 2 metres of suture material to repair. His diaphragm was torn, so that his bowel had entered his chest. And he had acres of bruising. Was it really necessary for someone to kick him so hard, just because he had dared to set his paws on their precious garden?

Neil McIntosh BVM&S MRCVS. Abbey Veterinary Group, Paisley and Greenock

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A Cats Prayer

Lead me down all the right paths,
Keep me from fleas, bees, and baths.
Let me in should it storm,
Keep me safe, fed, and warm.

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