By Dr. Becker
As regular Healthy Pets readers know, I often report on articles I find in veterinary journals that I feel contain misinformation or dubious guidance for pet owners. But recently I came across a really cute, silly piece that I decided to share with you to lighten things up a little.
'Mastering the Art of Fecal Concealment.'
The article’s author is a veterinarian, Dr. Michael Obenski, who runs a clinic for cats in Pennsylvania. He discusses one of his clients who is clearly preoccupied with the status of her cat’s poop.
The client always brings a large shopping bag with her to the vet’s office. Inside the huge bag are several thicknesses of folded newspaper. Tucked securely inside the newspaper is a large Tupperware bowl, which is packed tightly with a large mass of aluminum foil. Inside the mass of aluminum foil is a peanut butter jar swathed in plastic wrap. Inside the peanut butter jar are two individually wrapped lumps of cat poop.
Dr. Obenski notes that his clinic gives clients special little containers made precisely for the purpose of poop collection and transport. However, they are clearly not secure enough for this client or others like her!
Obenski considers this lady a “true master of the art of fecal concealment.” As he describes it, “She can turn a three-gram sample into an impenetrable cross between a Sherman tank and a work of modern art.”
Poop Containment Materials: The Backbone of the U.S. Economy?
Dr. Obenski speculates that the very health of the U.S. economy could be dependent on stool samples, or more precisely, the production of excessive amounts of fecal containment products, including aluminum foil, plastic wrap, sandwich bags, plastic cups, plastic containers with lids, and we can’t forget duct tape.
Production of these supplies represents a significant portion of our gross national product, according to Obenski, and a drop in the demand for stool sample concealment materials could cripple those industries and devastate the economy!
Do You Take Pains to Package Your Pet’s Poop with Precision?
Dr. Obenski’s article really tickled me because I also have clients who go to rather extreme lengths to package and camouflage poop deliveries to my clinic.
And of course every vet practice has at least a few clients who are fixated on their pet’s elimination habits – how often, how much, appearance, where it happened, when it happened, color, consistency, smell, etc. In fact, at the other end of the spectrum from the poop camouflage crowd are pet owners who are driven to share and celebrate Fluffy’s or Fido’s feces with the world. I have two clients with Facebook fan pages devoted to their pet’s elimination habits! “Poo Art,” if you will.
Now don’t get me wrong – a lot of important information about your pet’s health can be collected from the material that leaves his or her body in the form of waste. And I’m a big proponent of routine testing of stool samples to check for GI parasites, among other things. So I’m not recommending blissful ignorance of the state of your pet’s poop. I’m just saying there’s really no need to obsess about it.
And here’s a tip for those of you tempted to wrap up your pet’s poop like a delicate piece of wildly expensive china you plan to ship overseas. Grab a paper plate and tear it in half, or a disposable cup instead, and a plastic baggie. Scoop about a teaspoon of fresh poop off the ground or out of the litter box with the plate or cup, and slide it into the plastic baggie. Seal the baggie and you’re ready to go. If the sight of poop in a clear plastic baggie bugs you, put the baggie in a paper or opaque plastic bag, and off you go to your vet’s office.
There’s honestly no need to over-wrap your pet’s poop for transport… unless of course you want to do your part to keep the fecal containment products industry alive!