Vet Housecalls

What do you do on a Sunday night in Paris when you find your cat uncharacteristically expelling his food (violently), instead of  inhaling it?

Why, call SOS Vetérinaires. In fact, when I phoned my regular vet hoping to  get the SOS number from the recorded greeting, my call was instead automatically redirected to the Emergency Hotline.

Within an hour and a half, Mats was splayed on top of our dining table, quietly growling at the indignity of rectal thermometers. The vet was tall, young, blond and handsome, and — as if to underline all those attributes— wore a firefighter’s 3/4 length jacket, the kind in black canvas with yellow reflective stripes on the sleeves and bottom. He carried a large grey plastic toolbox from which he gave Mats several anti-nausea injections, and then handed me a sachet of chalky white goo to feed him an hour later.

Being a French vet, he also gave me a lecture: “Your cat is too fat. His fur is bad. He must be tested for diabetes and potentially pancreatitis. He must lose weight.”

As I began to explain the series of diets we’ve been trying for the past year, he continued his spiel, ignoring my interjections:

“…but it is not the fault of the cat. It is not he who buys the groceries, hein?” He gave me a knowing smirk. Grrr. I started to get annoyed.

As he prepared to launch into a diatribe on the sins of grocery store cat food, I realized that this time, being at home, I could actually prove that I was not free-feeding him Purina Cat Chow and pulled out out a box of Mats’s only-available-from-a-veterinarian, ‘kidney-formula’ food sachets. So happily, that particular lecture was cut short.

Instead, in complete contradiction of my regular French vet, he advised that while Mats must lose weight he must never go hungry (those who have spent any time in the presense of Mats will be able to appreciate the humour). Apparently going hungry causes too much stress (no wonder Mats has early-onset kidney disease). Solution: top up his food dish with puréed zucchini, which is high in fibre, and low in nutritional value.

The tally for the 30 minute visit at just before midnight, including the injections, was about double the cost of a standard vet consultation here.

Most amazingly, when I phoned my regular vet at 10 am today to schedule the tests, the assistant was already up to speed: “Oh, Madame Hosking, how is he today? When can Mats come in for the blood tests?”.  Apparently the SOS vet automatically emails a summary of the visit to the regular vet.

It is at times like these that I find it hard to believe that this is still the same country that requires most things, from applying for a continuing-education evening course  to obtaining a healthcare card, to be done via triplicate forms written in longhand (carbon paper doesn’t appear to exist in France) and then snail-mailed to the appropriate administrative fiefdom.

From recuperating cat

On the road again

Sorry I haven’t been terribly communicative for the past few months. We’ve been keeping happily busy with visiting friends, short trips, and in my case, some volunteer work that ironically had me working full-bore while the rest of Paris made their July & August exodus from the city.

I think I got blog-fatigue. Also, I was torn on what to write: judging by the feedback, what people most like is what I call “Paris expat p0rn”: stories of cafe life, lovely markets, visits to charming villages, etc.  And, while we certainly enjoy that aspect of living here, its about as accurate as assuming that life in Vancouver is limited to strolling the Seawall, walking through the Anthropology museum, hanging out on the Capilano suspension bridge, or eating salmon.

On the other hand, it does make for easier updates: a few pics of a crumbling village & voilà, a blog post!

In fact, that’s what I normally would have done right now, since we are approaching the end of a 2 week bike tour through Burgundy. Unfortunately, we’ve had another problem with theivery and so alas our camera containing oodles of travelling-France p0rn is now AWOL.

Overall though it’s been a fun trip, aside from one ambitious day of 95 km of climbing innumerable hills only to lose all elevation gained by descending again. I felt like Sisyphus after a few hours. Even HerrKaa, the Energizer Bunny on a Bike, was pretty exhausted. But it has been a good excuse to eat large helpings of garlicky snails and down copious amounts of hearty red wine.

Right now we are in Beaune, the very heart of Burgundy’s best wine region (the Cote d’Or), hanging out at the….library.

Don’t worry, we’ve already had our fill of dégustations and viticulture lore; now we need to fill in our applications for the bargain French classes offered by the City of Paris, which fill up fast as I learned first-hand last winter.  Since the forms only came online yesterday, we  have been hogging their internet station this morning to get all the info needed to complete forms for 3 separate applications (each in triplicate – vive l’administration francaise!).