Tag Archives: cat sitting

Walking a Mile in the Client’s Shoes

30 Mar
Lucas

Lucas

At my clinic, we refer to a lot of our appointments as “Upper East Side Problems.” People will bring their pet in for an “emergency” appointment, and it often results in something silly. A pimple on the nose, licking of the paws, not eating their entire breakfast, standing in the hallway looking off into space for too long. I sometimes think our clients have too much time on their hands and that they must spend a majority of their time staring at their pets, manifesting problems out of thin air. They then show up at our clinic in a nonsensical panic, complaining about how their pet is nervous about being in a new place. “Please don’t put Fluffy in a cage! I can’t bear the thought!” I have little patience for these people.

A couple of weekends ago, I was pet sitting for two of my favorite patients, Ellie Mae the pug, and Lucas the fat cat. I’m friendly with the owner, and she had warned me that Lucas has become a picky eater, lost weight, and been diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). I have stayed with them since the diagnosis, and it means that when he is dropping a deuce in the litterbox, he makes the saddest little kitten cries. It’s heartbreaking.

So I walk into the apartment on a Friday after work to be greeted by Ellie Mae who is making her pug squawks at me, letting me know that she is ready for dinner. But I notice Lucas hanging back a bit, sulking. Then I start to notice small drops of diarrhea everywhere. In the entryway, in the living room, the bathroom, and leading out of his litterbox. I text the owner to ask if that is something that has been happening. She texts back in a panic that, no, the diarrhea is a new development. I start texting the veterinarians asking for their advice. I’m hovering over Lucas, feeling his pulses, checking his mucous membranes for tackiness, testing his skin turgor, overall annoying him. I call the clinic and make an appointment and spend the night not able to sleep with worry.

In the drizzle-rain the next morning, I put Lucas into his carrier and bring him into work with me. I set him up in a cage and have the doctor’s look at him. As in multiple doctors. I want bloods. I want fluids. I spend most of the day hovering in the cage, petting the stressed out cat and telling him it’s okay. I have in a 24-hour period become the crazy clients that I find myself complaining about most of the time.

I’m an anomaly in the vet tech profession in that I don’t own any pets of my own. I would LOVE to, but my apartment lease doesn’t allow it. I also feel too irresponsible, too prone to spontaneously going out, too overbooked to give a pet the love and attention that it deserves. So this weekend of taking care of a sick animal that I have a deep fondness for was an important experience to have. Although I still stand by the fact that the majority of our clients have too much free time on their hands, I get the neurotic obsessiveness. It comes from a place of love and a feeling of helplessness when their pet is not feeling well.

By the end of the day, Lucas was doing much better. He was stressed and hiding in the cage (which shattered by heart), but the veterinarians and I rehydrated him and found some better food options that are more compatible with his delicate bowels. Later that night when I got into bed, he came with Ellie Mae and I. He curled up under my arm purring, and I knew that he was feeling better. And after a full day of worrying about him, the three of us slept soundly through the night.

Our post-hospital cuddle-fest.

Our post-hospital cuddle-fest.

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Cat Sitting

16 Dec
A couple of rescues from the NYPD.

A couple of rescues from the NYPD.

Last week, Dr. L introduced me to a new cat sitting client. His cat, Midnight, had that day been diagnosed as a diabetic. Him and his wife often go to Long Island for the weekend, and he needed someone to stop by and give Midnight her insulin. I quoted him my rates, and we had made a deal.

“You know,” I told him. “I also do cat feeding and litter box changes if you wanted me to take care of all of it while I stop by.”
“Oh no. There’s a lady in our building who does that and..um… she does that.”
“No problem. I’ll just take care of the insulin then.”

He sent me a nicely detailed email about the times he wanted me to stop by. The cat sitter that lives in the building would feed the cat in the afternoon, and I was to come over in the “early evening” to give her the insulin.

So after work I walked to the apartment, and as I entered, I heard someone rustling in the kitchen. I called out a hello and a slight-of-frame woman came out from the kitchen with a phone cradled between her shoulder and face.

“The technician just got here,” she said into the phone. “Yes, she just walked in. So I’ll help her.” She hung up the phone and turned to me. “I’m the other cat sitter. That was Bruce. He told me you were coming in the early evening, and it’s almost six.”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t realize you’d be here.”
“I’ve been waiting for you since 3 when I fed Midnight. I called Bruce to tell him that I could just give the insulin. I know how to do it myself, you know.”
“Oh, okay,” I said making my way to the kitchen to draw up the insulin. I wanted out of that apartment.

“Bruce is such a nervous daddy,” she continued. “I mean, I can give the shots. I know how. I don’t know why he hired you. I’ve done this before. I’ll hold Midnight for you. She doesn’t like strangers.”
“I actually met Midnight at the clinic.”
“She likes me better.”

So I let the woman hold the cat while I gave the quick injection. We both left the apartment together, and she told me to call her tomorrow if I needed help giving the injection in the morning.

The next morning I walk into the building and tell the doorman at the front desk the apartment number that I’m going up to. He picks up the phone and starts calling someone.

“Oh, they’re not there,” I tell him. “They left a key for me to let myself in.”
“That’s not who I’m calling.” I swallow my annoyance as I hear him announce to my cat sitter friend that I have arrived.
“She will meet you at the apartment,” he tells me.

I head upstairs and let myself in. I get out the insulin and start drawing it up as the cat comes out of the bathroom and circles at my feet. A couple of moments later, the cat sitter enters.

“When you said late morning, I didn’t think you meant 11!”
“Sorry.”
“Here. Let me hold Midnight. I can do this myself you know.”

I smile and nod and give the injection that I was paid to give.

“I’ve given injections to other animals before. I don’t think Bruce will be using you again. I’ll just do it from now on.”
“So I’ll leave my key here for them, so they don’t have to come by the clinic,” I say, placing the key on the living room table.
“Sounds like a good idea,” she says to me. “I mean, I have my own set.”

So, needless to say, I don’t think that client will use me again. I felt a mix of frustration and guilt. I never meant to step on this woman’s territory. I wasn’t trying to steal her client. I had no idea Upper East Side cat sitters could be so territorial.

Book Roundup #2

16 Oct

Columbus Day weekend meant a lot of cat-sitting for me. This also meant a lot of extra travel time to and from my client’s apartments. It can be irksome to get out of bed earlier than usual on a Saturday morning, but the extra money is so nice to have. Plus, CATS! And one of the greatest joys I take in living in New York City is the opportunity to use travel time to read. I love popping on the subway, pulling out my book, and zoning out until I hear my stop announced. No matter how busy my life gets, I still need to get from point A to point B, and I love that I get to read whilst doing just that. I also took care of one of my favorite cats this weekend, Grayer.

Grayer

Grayer

Despite being a former feral cat and a rescue, Grayer loves people and wants nothing more than to be petted. I often like to sit and pet him with one hand and read with the other. I was lucky enough to read two great books with Grayer this weekend.

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

4989I grew up in a Christian home and am well-versed in the Bible. Somewhere in my teenage years I began to question the faith I had been raised in. My questions were varied and complicated and eventually led me away from the church. One of my biggest problems with Christianity was the way women were treated in the Bible. I didn’t like that women were often a sidenote. Often reduced to nothing more than mothers or sinners or whores.

This book is about the wives and daughter of Jacob who is spoken about in Genesis. While it is fiction and imaginative, the writing is beautiful and captivating. She captures the relationships of mothers and daughters of sisters and of friends. I did some basic research on the book once I was done and most of the things she writes about aren’t historically accurate. But the story is moving and believable.

Zeitoun by Dave Eggers

zeitounWhen Hurricane Katrina hit, I was 19-years-old and self-centered. I remember so little about the hurricane and the after math. I remember going to a keg party to raise money for the Red Cross, and I remember this.

But I was young and didn’t pay much attention to the news of the struggles going on in my own country. “Zeitoun” is a beautiful, creative non-fiction book that depicts the experiences of a man who stayed behind, who canoed through the streets of New Orleans. I feel late to the show, but wow was that a FEMA fail. The main character Zeitoun is separated from his wife who flees the city with their children. The unfolding of the catastrophe and the injustice they exprienced was so suspenseful, so enraging. I read this in two days.

My two days of cat ownership

26 Nov

imageI went back to Nevada to visit my parents for a quick spell, and while I was away, one of my roommates agreed to cat sit. I was informed of this via text and didn’t think much of it. I returned to New York the evening of Thanksgiving, exhausted from the eight hour journey across the United States. I heard my roommate knock on my door, and I begrudgingly opened it to see her standing there, holding a cat. She introduced us as the cat leaped from her arms and ran under my bed. I was tired and did not want to deal with this furry creature.

For some reason, this cat would not leave my side. When I went into the kitchen, he followed me. When I put moisturizer on in front of my mirror, he likewise stood in front of the mirror gazing at his reflection. When I studied a bit on my computer, he walked back and forth over my hands, meowing for attention. And when I snuggled in my bed to watch Ru Paul’s Drag Race, he curled up next to me and purred.

So this is what cat ownership is like? In the last couple of years, I have desperately wanted a furry friend of my own. Ideally, I’d like to own a dog, but I know that I do not have the time or the resources to own one. For meager city-living, cats are really the ideal pet. As long as you leave them food and a litter box, they’ll generally take care of themselves. And oh, how I’ve craved one. It was a blissful two days with Kitty. I’d come home from work, and he’d run out from under the couch and begin following me everywhere I want. Sure, he wreaked some havoc by knocking all of my picture frames off their shelf and clawing at my scarves, but overall, it was so nice to have someone to come home to who wanted nothing more than to follow me around and do whatever I wanted.

On Saturday night, I didn’t have any plans, so I bought a bunch of ingredients to make some homemade soup and planned on watching a movie. Kitty and I. I imagined him nuzzling my ankles whilst I stirred, sitting on my lap while I picked out the movie on Netflix. But, alas, as soon as I walked in the door, I saw his litter box and carrier were gone. I was kitty-less once again. I so desperately wish I could adopt a kitty, but my landlord doesn’t allow them. My apartment feels so incomplete without one.