Exsanguinating the Cat

At eighteen years old, Sebastian is the granddaddy of our household’s cat population. He’s had some hard times, he’s been through rough patches, he had to spend some time on meds because he was damn near homicidal at one point (I could make a joke here about how he’s the John McCain of our cat population, but that would be in poor taste and disrespectful to the cat). He’s also the noisiest cat I’ve ever known, yowling and howling at inconvenient intervals (again, a McCain joke suggests itself). Every time we’ve moved to a new house, he immediately went to hunt down the best places to yowl, for the best acoustics. He’s been known to yowl in the shower, in the stairwell, even down the bathtub drain. Here’s a cat who really loves the sound of his own voice (no more McCain jokes, I promise). I’ve threatened to record his yowling on my digital voice recorder and turning it into a ringtone.

Most impressive of all: this cat is NOT deaf. He just really likes to talk. And no, as far as we know there is no Siamese in his background.


Since he’s an old guy, and because he has developed a weird tic in his head, shaking his ears violently at intervals and scratching at them, we decided to take him to the vet today. It was going to be a pretty standard checkup; we didn’t even have to bring a stool sample, if we couldn’t easily procure one. After perpetrating all of the humiliations that vets usually perpetrate on cats — palpating the belly, checking the mouth, taking the temperature — Sebastian decided he’d had enough, and went to lurk inside the cat carrier I’d brought him in. He yelled the entire time, of course. The vet and the tech both commented on his impressive feline lung capacity.

But then the worst hit. The vet took the cat into the back to draw blood for the bloodwork. And then there commenced a yowling that Edgar Allen Poe would have gladly put into one of his stories. I’d never heard anything so impressive, not even from Sebastian. I’ve been to the San Francisco Zoo on days when all of the primates from all over the zoo, from the lemurs to the howler monkeys, were all going off at once, and I could swear that Sebastian’s yowling was louder and more desperate sounding.

The walls shook. The room rattled. I sent a note to Twitter saying that I was waiting for the vet to exsanguinate the cat, because if Sebastian’s yowls were anything to go by, then that was exactly what the vet was doing to him.

A few minutes later, the tech finally returned, bringing the deeply traumatized cat with him. “That was amazing,” he said. “He scared some of the other techs.”

I looked at the cat who, at this point, was obviously the worse for wear: annoyed, humiliated, and dangerously pissed off. “Really?” I asked. “That bad?”

“Yeah, he hated every second of it. However, there was a bright side.”


“Yep. He gave us a stool sample while we were trying to draw blood. Should we do a fecal workup while we’re at it?”

I shrugged. “Sure. Might as well, as long as you have it.”

The tech blinked at me. I think he thought I was joking. But I wasn’t. I’ve tried getting stool samples from cats like this and it just isn’t easy. Take advantage of these opportunities when they present themselves, I figured.

The vet pronounced Sebastian a very healthy senior cat, with the exception of a slight ear infection. She’ll be calling tomorrow with the results of the blood workup and the fecal workup. I expect that she’ll find nothing, that Sebastian will be perfectly healthy. That he’ll live for another eighteen years, at least.

The most annoying and the loudest cats are the ones who live the longest, after all.

I dunno. What do you think the cat might be trying to communicate to us?