Pets are not like humans in plenty of ways, but nowhere is the difference more glaringly obvious than when it comes to the notion of vanity.
Pets have none to speak of -- or so we like to imagine, seeing as they've no use for mirrors and don't seem to care whether we're movie-star hot or dug-up-from-under-a-rock ugly.
And thank goodness for that! It's hard enough to pair up pets and people without having to worry about a cat objecting to her new owner's nose or shaving habits.
Why Some People Can't Look Past a Pet's Looks
Unfortunately, the same lack of superficial circumspection is decidedly not in play with respect to humanity. Not only would we prefer to have our human milieu rife with as much drop-dead gorgeousness as possible, but we also routinely reach beyond the confines of our own specific species' purview to apply similar standards to our pets.
Why else would it take me five times as long to place a plain tabby kitten over a white one, a downy-soft dog over a scruffy one or a blue-eyed merle over a brown-eyed black?
Sometimes a good bath and a liberal application of whitening shampoo have the same effect for a pet in need of a new home as a new coat of paint does for a house's curb appeal. Call it lipstick on a pig, but if the visual up-sell will make any difference whatsoever, then you'll see me first in line to smear some Revlon on my prospective animal adoptee.
As you can imagine, it's this kind of rampant silliness that leads people like me to start cynically wondering whether humanity isn't due a whopper of a comedown. If nothing else, I reckon those who would choose pretty over personality when adopting an animal companion are well deserving of the disservice they do themselves.
Two Rather Vain Pet Parents
But it's not just the first-impression pretties that have me all riled up as of late. The last few weeks have seen me wrangling with one particular owner over her stray cats' looks -- and with another over his dog's tail.
In the first instance, I offered low-cost spays and neuters for several of the client's free-roaming, mostly feral outdoor cats. It was generous of me, seeing as I was charging half price by way of a service to my community. Unfortunately, this particular owner and I disagreed over my stray-cat sterilization protocol, and no one ended up in my operating room on the day she'd trapped the first batch of cats.
Here's why: All of my low-cost feral and free-roaming feline spays and neuters receive vaccines, pain control and an ear tip. This is non-negotiable. If you want me to donate my time, you have to accept my terms.
The last procedure is the only one that sometimes trips people up because it involves cutting a notch into one of the cat's ears. Some people -- this client included -- believe that it's ugly and "disfiguring" and refuse to have it performed. I, however, consider it a basic tenet of feral and free-roaming cat management, since it identifies sterilized and vaccinated cats with a bare minimum of pain involved. I will therefore never consent to dispense with the procedure.
The second scenario involves a new client who will probably never come back after we disagreed over the removal of his dog's tail. Convinced his adult shelter adoptee looked too much like a Rottweiler to go through life with an intact tail, he'd made an appointment to have it amputated.
Although my staff had informed him of my extreme reluctance to dock even baby dog tails, he was sure that he could persuade me otherwise. And I was sure that I could persuade him to see things my way. Needless to say, we reached an impasse.
After I explained that a Rottweiler looks great with a tail, and how, in Germany (where the breed hails from), no Rottweiler has a docked tail -- not to mention that his pet would suffer from significant, needless pain and a risk of complications -- he failed to relent. That's when he informed me that he would just go elsewhere if I refused, so I "might as well just do it."
As I explained to each client, everyone has a right to a personal opinion as to what constitutes pretty and what does not -- but that doesn't mean that a veterinarian should be expected to act outside the bounds of what her own personal conscience dictates.
As far as I'm concerned, that's especially true when petty human vanity is the source of the disagreement.
pics, advice, info and stories for pet lovers
We asked veterinary experts and readers which breeds they think and if it is OK to shave longhaired pets in the summer.
If you're searching for a breed that may enjoy the company of a kid, we have some great suggestions for you.
When searching for the right dog to add to your family, your first instinct might be to bring home a tiny little thing that your kids can cradle in their laps. But we're here to remind you that the best fit for you may be a large dog breed.
Many breeds were developed to do work that required them to act independently. Those dogs tend to be smart, but as family pets, they may need more leadership and training than others. Ultimately, though, they’re worth it. Here are 11 dog breeds that tend to have independent personalities.
Many of us here at Vetstreet are fascinated by pets who have unique coats and cool shapes hidden in their markings. So we asked our Facebook fans to share pictures of animals that have interesting coloration, and you did not disappoint. From mustachioed cats to a horse of a different color, here are our 13 favorite photos of pets with cool coats.
We surveyed 284 veterinary professionals (including vets, veterinary technicians and office staff) to see which breeds they felt were most likely to chew something they shouldn't and wind up in the veterinary emergency room, and we've listed the top five answers below. Do you agree with their opinions? Which breeds would you add to the list?
This Fourth of July, Americans will celebrate with the sights and sounds of fireworks. While we love the pyrotechnics, it's important to remember that our patriotic midsummer spectacular is no holiday for many of our pets.
By Vetstreet Editors
It's Independence Day — and we're celebrating our freedom and everything American. Before you light up the grill or head out to catch the fireworks, take a moment to check out these fun photos of patriotic pups. We hope you have a wonderful holiday and, as always, remember to keep your pets safe.
You love him so much, but you put up with a lot for your pup.
There's no denying that cats are excellent companions, but sometimes they do something that leaves you scratching your head in total confusion. If you're used to dogs, cats' social interactions and the way they communicate can be very confusing. Yet it's these special behaviors, like affectionate head-butting and their penchant for cardboard boxes, that make us love them so much. To help you better understand your elusive feline, we rounded up 10 cat behaviors that people commonly consider mysterious. You'll find that many of these habits aren't weird at all for cats -- they're normal. Click through this slideshow to learn more about mysterious feline habits and what they mean.
Soldier the cat is now recovering thanks to a special oxygen mask used for reviving animals.