Friday, May 27, 2011

Cat's got my tongue

I'm speechless.

I've seen some pretty strange things in my time here in Russia, from a woman riding her pony down busy, bustling Arbat to children playing in giant gerbil-like clear balls that float on water. From tough teenage boys drinking beer in the park while wearing shirts with teddy bears on them to six-foot tall "glamazons" stalking over treacherous ice and snow in stilettos.

But this one may just take the cake.

First, a little bit of background information. The fifth-floor landing in my apartment building (where my flat is) is usually quite bare, save for a random ladder (and, of course, the infamous magic witchcraft books that were there back in December). But gradually over the past week or so more and more furniture has been accumlating there, for some mysterious reason. Now it looks like someone is setting up an office!

(Added note: this morning when I went for my run I saw an addition to the bookcase: now it is packed with books. Very strange....)

So last night I went to take the garbage outside. I unlocked our heavy leather door, humming a tune to myself innocently, and stepped out onto the landing...

Where a veterinarian (at least, I hope it was a legitimate vet) was standing over an unconscious kitten performing some type of surgery on it while three other people (the cat's owners?) stood around watching!

I gaped in shock for a minute or two but no one seemed to register my presence or my disbelief. I've mentioned before that my family are not "dog people" or "cat people" so I had no idea what was going on to this poor kitten, save that it was sprawled out on the desk and...SOMETHING was being done to it. And that no one seemed to think this was strange!

I texted one of my Russian friends once I got outside and received this reply:

"Perfectly normal situation! The doctor was making the cat not have babies. Its usually done on the kitchen table but I guess they wanted to use a different table. Last year Maks (her cat) got this on our kitchen table!"

Um...okay, am I the only one who thinks that there is something incredibly unsanitary about neutering a cat on your kitchen table? Shouldn't that be done at a veterinarian's office, on a sterilized table that people don't have to eat off of? How is this "normal situation"??? I don't mean to sound like the judgemental foreigner here but everything about what I saw last night just FREAKED. ME. OUT.

Only in Russia? Russians out there, is this standard practice?


  1. Its probably just the cheap option. Of course one can have his cat neutered on the sterile table in a proper vet clinic, but this is quite expensive. Besides, animals have stronger immune system, so its not so dangerous to them.
    When I was a child, we had a doberman pinscher puppy. And parents called a vet for .. how it named? Ear cropping? It was performed in our kitchen, on a clean sheet (was there a sheet under that kitty?). Don't know if our small town even had a vet clinic at that time.

  2. I'm speechless too! But having been there now, I have no trouble believing it.

  3. Though I am Russian and I try to train myself to stop surprising to anything here, for me this situation would be as shocking as for you, because I've never heard that in my life. Though indeed, small towns usually don't have many vet clinics and in case they do, it must be really expensive.

  4. this is hilarious!!!!!

    my family definitely thinks neutering a pet is abnormal. in fact, they say it is the 'slutty' females fault for getting pregnant over and over again... :s

    definitely not standard practise. but something that seems to hopefully be changing?