Health: Cat-a-tonic? The doctor can't tell the difference

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Indy Lifestyle Online
"You GPs are all gutless murderers"

"Whoa. Steady on, Mrs Harris. I appreciate that losing a family pet is very distressing..."

"It's worse than distressing..."

"But I can honestly say I had nothing to do with your cat's death. I just found her..."


"Him by the side of the road."

"And you really expect me to believe that?"

"Yes. I know you're angry and I know how you feel..."

"How can you possibly know how I feel?"

"Because I too have lost a cat. In fact I've lost two in the last year..."


"Well, strictly speaking they weren't my cats. They arrived with my wife, via the animal shelter.

"But I welcomed Lotty and Tess into the family and I was gutted when they died."


"Much the same as your Sabre. Run over by some thoughtless bastard who couldn't be bothered to stop."

"They both went at the same time?"

"No, Tess went in Birmingham, while our dear friend Connie was catsitting. Connie had to scrape her off the road and leave her in a bin-liner in the garage for my wife to deal with."

"And Lotty?"

"Lotty died within a month of moving to the country. A neighbour saw her remains in a farmyard entrance, but when we went to look, we couldn't find her."

"So you can't be completely sure if she died?"

"No - and that's the worst part. Not knowing..."

"I'm sorry Doctor, for flying off the handle like that..."

"That's OK..."

"It's just that when I saw the article in the British Medical Journal..."

"How many times have I warned you against opening your husband's mail? You know how it upsets you."

"Yes, but I only read the personal views at the back, and they're usually poignant stories of sick doctors who resolve to be much nicer to their patients in future."

"And what did you find?"

"A very sick doctor. A self-confessed cat-killer..."

"I don't believe you. Not in the BMJ..."

"Look. September 13, p686. Liam Farrell, general practitioner, Crossmaglen, County Armagh writes..."

"Last night as I was driving home from a house call a Hunter's Moon was gleaming down and the mist was luminous in the headlights. A cat ran out in front of the car; as to me is [sic] the only cat is a squashed cat I didn't shirk my duty. I put the foot down and awaited the satisfying squelch of a confirmed kill..."

"Isn't that sickening?"

"It's certainly not very pleasant. But are you sure he's not just making it up for dramatic effect?"

"This is the British Medical Journal..."

"Well perhaps he's been under a lot of stress. What, with the troubles and being called out on a night visit."

"Look, will you stop defending him? This man has stated that `the only good cat is a squashed cat'. Does that mean that when he goes on visits, he deliberately stamps on his patients' cats in the hallway? Or reverses over them in the drive? Heaven forbid, the cat he squashed might have belonged to the family he had just visited to minister his care and concern."

"And did it?"

"No. In fact it wasn't a cat at all..."

".... and only realised, too late, that it was in fact a young fox. It was under the car wheels within a second. And I love foxes; I love their wildness, their feistiness, their sparkiness, the way their eyes shine in the starlight."

"Don't cats' eyes shine in the starlight too?"

"Precisely. And they can be wild, feisty and sparky. I mean, does Dr Farrell kill feral cats too?"

"To be fair, he doesn't say he's killed any cats. Just that he tried to kill one and it turned out to be a fox."

"You're sticking up for him again. He crushed its skull with a wheel jack."

"Yes but only after he'd run over its spine. He was being kind."

"Oh really?"

"Yes. And he was deeply disturbed about it. Look..."

"I've often had to administer drugs in the twilight zone of relieving symptoms while possibly or probably hastening death, but I don't recall any of them disturbing me quite so much as having to kill that little fox so bloodily with my bare hands..."

"And we're supposed to feel sorry for him? He doesn't deliberately run down his patents before hastening their death. So why do it to a defenceless animal?"

"I honestly don't know. But he does make the interesting point that wrapping assisted death up in a white coat and silent aseptic techniques seems to disguise the enormity of what's being done. Whereas if euthanasia meant having to squash somebody's skull with a wheel jack, then doctors wouldn't be so keen on it.. Even though the end result is much the same."

"I think he could have made the point without squashing the fox."

"So do I, but time marches on Mrs Harris and I've got another fifteen patients to see..."

"Drive carefully."