You’re Cat Wasn’t Abused- it’s Just an A$shole.

Don’t shoot the messenger

Okay, before you begin typing your angry response, let me explain a little. One of the major perks of working as a veterinary technician (at least at first) is the bi-annual event known to those of us in the industry as “kitten season.” In March/April and again in September/October it happens- calls flood in from people who have come across either a whole litter (leave them alone!) or a single, helpless, tiny kitten (okay- we would rescue it too). Usually the person on the other end of the line is absolutely desperate, having given zero forethought to what they would do with the little bundle(s) of joy when they scooped them up off the streets. Most veterinary hospitals have a “cap” at how many of these little guys they will agree to take in- primarily because they take up so much time and energy from the staff. Bottle-feeding every two hours, constant warming and re-warming of hot water bottles, stimulating them to use the bathroom after each feeding… it’s absolutely endless. It’s also extremely rewarding when they thrive, and especially so when they finally develop their own little personality and are ready to find a home. So where’s the downside, you may be asking yourself? That happens, my friends, when that little bottle-baby comes back for his annual exam exactly 12 months later and doesn’t seem to remember or even give one single f@ck how many sleepless nights you spent caring for him before his little eyes were even open. He only wants one thing- to shred you into tiny little pieces with his perfectly honed nails (naturally he’s too spoiled for his owners to attempt trimming them at home). Y’all…this little guy wasn’t abused- he was the exact opposite- HE WAS CODDLED- like a precious egg. And he’s just an a$shole.

I’m sorry that I have to be the one to break the news to you, but it’s the truth. Ask anyone who has worked in the veterinary or shelter world for long and they will tell you the same thing. At least seventy five percent of the time bottle-baby kittens grow up to be arrogant, entitled little brats. Do we still love them? OF COURSE! I’ve had one or two myself over the years and don’t get me wrong, they make great pets. What they don’t make, is great patients. When I worked as a technician I heard so many owners excuse their cat’s aggressive behavior by saying they were “obviously abused” by the person who raised them. I had to bite my tongue and nod along more than once because you try not to correct the owners if possible in order to keep the conversation flowing, but those days are over! 😂

This same “abuse” myth has carried over to the grooming world as well. If a cat is difficult for us to groom or needs a sedative, the owner is immediately at-the-ready with a contrived tale of neglect or absolute torture- often when they have NO IDEA where the cat actually came from! They just assume this! I’m not sure how this explanation became the go-to excuse for bad cat behavior, but it has. Would we assume the same thing about a child that was a brat? Would we assume their parents were abusive? Or would we think they were spoiled- and say to ourselves that someone really should “put them in their place.” I think I’m more inclined to say the latter, but it’s certainly a conversation-starter either way (One that I won’t be having with any of those kid’s parents, by the way).

Unfortunately we did see cases of abuse and neglect. In every single case that I can remember, the cat was extremely frightened (hiding in the back of the cage if possible), and unbelievably sweet and affectionate when carefully approached. These cats SHOULD HAVE wanted to attack us, but that was never the case. They weren’t confident enough to do something like that. They just wanted someone to gently scratch under their chin and talk in a soothing voice. There was no “suiting-up” with the raptor gloves or awkward struggling with cat muzzles for abused cats. One simply needed to move slowly and be gentle.

The same technique is recommended for working with cats in general. Most cats who behave badly in new situations are simply frightened, and a mild sedative such as Gabapentin given prior to such experiences can help them have a more successful veterinary or grooming visit (not always). But can an owner of a cat who was raised in an animal hospital play the “frightened card?” These cats smell familiar smells (often returning to the same clinic they were raised in), and see familiar faces! The same faces that lovingly doted on them for several months. They once ruled this place, with the staff often giving them full reign of the halls when the doors were locked. Maybe their behavior is a mixture of being overly-confident around humans AND being frightened at the same time. What do you think? Is anyone reading this the owner of a badly behaved cat or a bottle-baby or both? What are your thoughts?

My final two cents on the subject are this: the staff still likes you, even if your cat is an a$shole at the vet. They don’t mind if they have to don the SWAT suit, and they don’t even mind when your little buddy tries to claw their eyes out for simply trying to get a current weight on them. What DOES bother us, is hearing owners say that the last technician or veterinarian or groomer did something that SCARRED your cat for life. No they didn’t. Chances are, your cat was coddled. End of story. And if you’d say something like that about your last (insert animal handling occupation here), then you’d say it about me one day too- and trust me- you don’t want to do that, because I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger, and whatever else Samuel L said in that famous scene in Pulp Fiction. So embrace your little brat and don’t worry about what the staff thinks about him. They understand how kitten season works, and they still look forward to it anyway!😸

Shannon & Whitney



11 thoughts on “You’re Cat Wasn’t Abused- it’s Just an A$shole.

  1. I am ashamed to say that my male Bengal is not well behaved at the vet, Malbec will growl the entire time he’s there! Thankfully the big baby doesn’t bite or scratch and giving him a meat tube (Inaba Churu) during the exam keeps him busy. When I bring him home after a vet visit he will be stressed out for the next couple days, he’s very dramatic but definitely NOT abused! I’m always embarrassed by his behavior but everyone at the vet is very kind and caring!


  2. One of my cats was rescued from a hoarder when she was around 2 or 3 years old. She has always been an absolute sweetheart, but when I first brought her home, she was very shy and skittish. Gradually over the last 7 years I’ve had her, it’s been wonderful seeing her become more confident and come out of her shell more and more. She’s almost to the point of loving new people and warms up to my friends quickly.

    The tradeoff, though, is as she has become more confident, she has definitely become a more difficult patient. Her first few years, she’d just shut down and you could see her retreat to the basement of her brain once she knew she couldn’t get back to her carrier. Now, she’s not fractious and hasn’t needed a sedative, but definitely gives a lot more growly attitude when the vet or tech handles her. Honestly, I’m proud of her that she will now stand up for herself and object when someone is doing something she doesn’t like!


      1. She’s a tortie; it’s her gosh-darned right to be in charge! And she will let me take care of her nails (with nonviolent objections) and keep her hind end tidy (work quick). I just keep in mind that if we were in my living room and the tech wanted to scratch her butt instead of stick something in it, she’d be all purrs. 😂


  3. My cat is gone now. I miss him terribly. He tried to pull some stunts and found out real quick who the boss was. I’ve always had cats and believe me, they really do need to know who is in charge. He was always good at the vet….usually just scared making a big “meow” in the carrier.
    When he got older and grooming became an issue for him…knots and mats….I took him to the groomer. I paid a lot and tipped well, but I wasn’t impressed with the work. I got him the lions cut but he looked like a hairless cat in ugg boots. Like bald. He was not a happy dude for a while after that. I felt so bad for him but it had to be done. The worst part was he was covered in urine when I picked him up. I don’t know what happened. We didn’t have a great experience. I just never went back and cut the knots out myself when his fur grew back.


    1. I’m sorry you had such a bad experience! I will say- lion cuts don’t really look good on older or thin cats- but there is no other choice if they come in extremely matted. At some point it becomes humanity over vanity- and it’s just easier on the cat to shave them rather than spend all day trying to comb painful Matting out. I’m glad that in the end you were able to do it at home- that’s my goal for everyone!


  4. We had a cat growing up named Mr Waggles. He was born at a friends house, not bottle fed, but we knew him from birth. He lived to be 18! He was most definitely spoiled and coddled. At the vet, on 6/6/06 😳 he went full on demon. They had to handle with the swat suit and ended up placing him in a container and gassed him unconscious so they could examine him. He was attacked by a fox or raccoon and had a big bite on his rear. He needed medical help. I was teenager witnessing this but it was nuts! He was the sweetest boy at home but he was labeled feral at the vet. No shame though. I’ll love my kitties endlessly. Every kitty after him has big shoes to fill.


  5. I am not even sure if you will see this or not, but it is worth a try. We have an 8 month old kitten who was abandoned at about two weeks old under a friends shed. He couldn’t care for her so we took her and she isn’t the only abandoned kitten I have ever cared for and I do not spoil or coddle them because I know how they can become. She is mean to me specifically she is now 8 months old and my left hand and arm are covered in scars, old scratches and bites, and new ones. My feet and legs as well and it is starting to wear on me. She will attack and bite me without provocation at all she will run up take a bite and run off. She does not do this to my boyfriend at all If anything he spoils her, but when she does want to cuddle she comes to me at least until she decides to lay into me again.
    We have two other cats that were adopted from a shelter when each was 2 months old. The oldest is 3 she is a Ragdoll her name is Olivia, and the other is a neutered male that is a year old he is part Burmese his name is Rowan both were bottle fed in the shelter and both are sweet lovable cats. Then there is Roxi the kitten I have often wondered if she is mentally unbalanced because not only is she downright hateful to me, but she will not sleep with the other two cats at all and she will not groom them or allow them to groom her. They all play together, but nap time and grooming she does alone unless I am laying down then she will sleep on my chest or legs. It is as if she loves me and hates me at the same time.
    I couldn’t re-home her even if I wanted to because I cannot take the chance she would do this to someone less understanding and might hurt her or throw out on the streets. Plus I love her dearly and she has only known us since she was two weeks old as I am sure she no longer remembers our friend who found her. Our vet says she looks to be part Bombay and physically she is a healthy kitten. If you have any thoughts I would like to hear them…thanks.


    1. This is so hard! But I do know someone with a very similar issue who started seeing an animal behaviorist this year and it’s made a world of difference. Most veterinarians can recommend someone. Make sure they are board-certified! Would you be open to something like that?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It is hard because she can be so sweet and then flip on a dime and often for no apparent reason. It is weird because it almost always my left hand and arm she goes after. Someone had asked if I have anything wrong in that arm and not wrong but I do have a pacemaker in the left side of my chest that regulates my heart and shocks it from time to time. I don’t know if she can sense it or not but it does seem odd that it is almost always that side.
        I would be open to it and can speak to my vet and see what he says he is an older man and pretty old fashioned but very knowledgeable too. She is due to go in to get her ears cleaned so I will talk to him then about that. I watch Jackson Galaxy, but he has never done a show on he specific behaviors that I have seen at least.


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