Soundtrack of Spring
Warm sunshine and fresh air are a glorious change from the winter doldrums, and elevate the mood instantly. From a veterinarian’s perspective, spring and summertime bring new challenges, as our patients are also spending a lot more time outdoors, often unsupervised.
I earn lots of eye-rolls from my kids for my ability to find a song for just about every circumstance. It’s one of my superpowers — not as useful as my ability to find exactly the right container for leftovers, but hey, it passes the time. And the cornier the song, the more disgusted my teens get, which, parents, is totally worth it. Here are my Top 10 (ish) picks for my eclectic playlist, “Soundtrack of Spring.” Enjoy.
1. “Stray Cat Strut,” Stray Cats
Nothing announces the arrival of spring like the sound of a good ol’ cat fight in the alley.
While this can happen any time of year, it’s more prevalent amongst cats in the warmer months, since it’s the time most female cats will be “in season” and be receptive to “Makin’ Whoopee,” by Bing Crosby. Male cats strutting their stuff down the streets, particularly in the wee hours of the night, fighting with one another over territory and mates is commonplace from April through October here in the Northeast U.S.
2. “Ain’t Nothin’ but a Hound Dog,” Elvis
Not to be outdone by tomcats, intact (not neutered) male dogs can roam miles a day to secure territory and search for apt mates. Unlike cats, female dogs come into estrus (become receptive to mating) once to twice a year, and do not follow a seasonal schedule.
That said, warmer weather tends to send many dogs outside for longer periods of time.
A female dog “in heat” can send pheromonal signals (powerful, species-specific hormonally driven scent) wafting blocks away — a beacon to potential mates, much like the Bat Signal calls the Caped Crusader into service.
Randy male dogs will scale fences or break through barriers to connect with a female dog “in season.”
3. “Born to Run,” Bruce Springsteen; “Highway to Hell,” AC/DC
Warmer months bring more animals outdoors, running at large. So, it shouldn’t be any surprise that most hit-by-car emergencies happen in the spring through fall.
4. “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” Cyndi Lauper
Cat or dog, rabbit or bird — some female animals in estrus are most determined to find a boyfriend. “Don’t Fence Me In,” by Roy Rogers, comes to mind, as many of these she-devils are adept at escaping their confines when hormones are raging.
Cats and bunnies are almost always successful at becoming pregnant on the first try.
5. “Love the One You’re With,” Stephen Stills
Animals will breed with one another when in the throes of hormonal influences, EVEN IF THEY’RE RELATED. Litters of pups or kittens that aren’t separated at puberty will mate with each other. “Inbreeding” can cause any number of genetic abnormalities to surface in the coming generation, and is not recommended for good reasons.
6. “Kung Fu Fighting,” Carl Douglas
Not only in-fighting between members of their own species, cats and dogs tend to get into scraps with wild critters, too. Wounds from fighting can be vicious, deep and become infected and abscessed quickly. Diseases like Rabies and FIV (Feline AIDS Virus) are transmitted through bites. Pets with wounds of any kind should be checked by a veterinarian right away.
7. “Flight of the Bumblebee,” Nikolai Rimsky Korsakov
Insect stings, flea and tick infestations, chiggers, lice and other creepy crawlers abound in the warmer months. Unchecked wounds can become infested with maggots (= the stuff of nightmares, trust me).
8. “Rolling in the Deep,” Adele
Admittedly, animals don’t really exhibit any of the themes in this song — emotional pain of unrequited love and revenge are pretty much not a thing in animals. That said, rolling in stuff, and mushing it deep into their fur (and collars) is most DEFINITELY a thing. Springtime brings out the most intense smells, and dogs, especially, truly experience joy while adorning themselves with the most fetid, rank substances on earth.
9. “Eat It,” Weird Al Yankovic
Rabbit droppings, small, defenseless creatures, rotting refuse extracted from the accidentally uncovered garbage can, hamburgers stolen from the grill, sticks and even stones (covered in melted marshmallow from the fire pit) — pets are known to eat it. All of it. Despite the sometimes serious and surgical illnesses that can result, they are never sorry and will do it again.
10. “Seven Year Itch,” Willie Nelson
With every bud that blooms, every blade of grass that needs to be cut, a seasonal allergy sufferer … suffers.
Bonus track: “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah,” James Baskett, “Uncle Remus”
Despite all the extra work, spring’s still my favorite season. Plenty of sunshine heading our way — wonderful feeling, wonderful day! Stay safe and healthy!
— Daverio is a veterinarian at Williamsport West Veterinary Hospital. Her column is published every other Sunday in the Lifestyle section. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.