We Are Siamese, And We’re Pleased

, , , , , , | Hopeless | February 26, 2019

Fifteen years ago, I finally had a flat to myself again and, full of excitement, I had a friend drive me to a local shelter to adopt me a cat. To be specific, two cats. Indoor cats. Female. Indoor cats are a lot of hard work — and no one likes to deal with litter trays — but my new flat was on the junction of two very busy streets in a pretty grotty neighbourhood so outdoor cats seemed irresponsible.

We pulled up at the shelter and I leapt out of the car like a demented gazelle, giddy as a kid on Christmas morning, and barely managed to wait for my friend before charging inside. I explained what I was looking for to the young lady inside and she took me to look at the cats that were up for adoption. To my shock, about half of the cats seemed to be chocolate point siamese — several hundred pounds a pop, so not what you expect to find in a shelter.

The girl explained that they had all been rescued from a mad old cat lady who was keeping all twenty of them in a one-bedroom house and feeding them enough for maybe fifteen cats. They’d been in a real state when they were brought in, but they’d been fed up and were now full of beans. I was now, if anything, even more excited at the prospect of adopting as the thought of a pair of these magnificent kitties wandering around my flat was really exciting to me. I wandered up the aisle, taking my time and greeting each of the cats in turn, trying to not just yell, “OH, MY GOD! JACK WANT ALL KITTIES! GIVE KITTIES TO JACK NOW!

Cage after cage was filled with these huge, beautiful, and very, very vocal cats, pressing themselves against the front of the cages for pettings. I was totally confused — how would I ever choose? — until I got to the last cage. There, my confusion ended.

In this cage were, once again, two siamese cats. But these two were maybe half the size of the others, and they weren’t pressing against the front of the cage looking for cuddles. They were huddled at the back of the cage, as far away from humans as they could get. I later found out that they were also recovering from cat flu. The cat I would come to know as Sif was huddled into the corner as tightly as she could squeeze herself, and the warrior who would be Freya was lying half on top of her, cuddling as close as she could and I knew. I just knew.

Those other cats, brimming with health and confidence? They could go anywhere, be adopted by anyone, but these two were going to need a special home with someone patient, and I was determined that I would give them that home.

It’s taken years to get them to act like proper, confident goddesses-of-all-they-survey — y’know, cats — and they still get skittish around new people, but Sif will now walk up to people in my flat and demand cuddles — remember, siamese — and even Freya will allow people to pet her, though she has some hilariously specific rules.

And now, beloved readers, those two terrified little cats — the cats I didn’t even see for the first two weeks that they lived with me because they were hiding behind the fridge — those two cats will now not only climb onto my lap at any chance they get but, if I’m wearing a front opening top, they will climb inside that top — with no regard at all for my tender, easily-punctured skin! — and they curl up and they purr and purr as if they’ve finally found their happy spot. And sometimes this makes my face leak, just a little bit.

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Some Customers Should Be Spayed

, , , , | Right | July 10, 2018

(My mother volunteers for a local golden retriever rescue group. All of the dogs who are old enough are spayed or neutered to prevent unwanted puppies. If you adopt a puppy you are required to spay or neuter them at six months, or the group will take them back. We get a lot of stupid questions from potential adopters, but this email to my mother takes the cake.)

Email: “I’m really interested in [Three-Year-Old Dog], but I notice she is spayed. Can you tell me how to un-spay her? I want to breed her to my dog.”

(My mother spent a good twenty minutes trying to figure out a professional response.)

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She’s A Salty Cracker

, , , , , , | Right | July 5, 2018

(I do community service part-time for a local wildlife hospital. My job is mainly to clean bird cages and provide them with food, but I answer emergency phone calls when no one else is around to take them. Today, I’m about to clock out and we get a call. I accept the request to rescue a bird on the beach at the other side of town. It’s inconvenient, but rescues are usually more interesting than cleaning cages, so I accept. Halfway to the bird, I get a call back from the person who called the bird in.)

Caller: “Hello, uh, miss? I think someone’s trying to drown it.”

Me: “Maybe you should get them not to do that. I can’t give a bird CPR, and it’s not much of a rescue if it dies.”

(Ten minutes later, I got to the beach. A woman who was clearly a tourist had been dunking the poor bird in seawater because she thought it looked thirsty. While some birds actually can drink seawater without a problem, this was not one of those birds. The bird was still alive by the time I picked it up, but it was choking from the salt the whole way back to the rescue center.)

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Snakes, Why Did It Have To Be Snakes

, , , , | Right | June 20, 2018

(I am working at a wildlife clinic where we care for injured or orphaned animals brought in by the public. A somewhat anxious-looking woman comes in to the exam room, gingerly holding a small, sealed plastic sandwich bag away from her body. I can’t see what’s in the baggie, because it’s very thickly frosted on the inside with ice crystals.)

Woman: *drops baggie on counter, making a faint clunking sound* “I need you to take a look at this snake for me. It was in my garage.”

Me: *thinking she wants me to ID the species; something we’re asked to do sometimes when people are worried about venomous snakes* “Sure, no problem.” *starts to open baggie*

Woman: *screams and jumps back* “No! DON’T OPEN IT!”

Me: “Ma’am, I can’t see the snake well enough through all the frost to tell what species it is. I have to open it.”

Woman: “But it might get loose! It’ll bite me!”

Me: “Ma’am, the snake is dead. It can’t bite anyone, I promise.”

Woman: “You don’t know that! It might still be alive! What if it’s poisonous? How do you know for sure it’s dead?”

Me: “Well, for one thing, it’s frozen solid—”

Woman: *interrupts* “It could thaw out!”

Me: “Not instantly, ma’am; and aside from that, the snake itself appears to be half-flattened, and in four separate pieces. Trust me: it’s very, very dead.”

Woman: “It was under the garage door. I made my husband cut it up with the shovel. It could be poisonous! Be careful; it might still bite! Why aren’t you wearing gloves?” *points to the gauntlets we use for eagles*

Me: “Those aren’t for snakes, ma’am. Don’t worry; I’m a professional. Besides, this is a black rat snake, a baby one. It’s nonvenomous and completely harmless.”

Woman: “It’s not a black snake! It’s got diamonds on it! It’s a copperhead, I know it!”

Me: “Black rat snakes start out patterned; they don’t turn black until later. And copperheads are copper-colored, hence the name. This snake is silver. Copperheads are actually pretty rare in this area. This snake is harmless, I promise. Actually, some people like having rat snakes around because they keep the mice at bay!”

Woman: *suddenly angry* “Well, fine, then. You might be a big snake lover, but it could’ve been poisonous. I had to kill it! I could have died.”

Me: “Well, luckily, this one wasn’t! Have a nice day!”

(The woman leaves.)

Coworker: “What the hell was that all about?”

Me: “Uh, I guess she really doesn’t like snakes.”

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Out To Get Some Tail

| Related | May 9, 2016

(After searching long and hard for a male gerbil to try and bond with my current gerbil I finally find one. It’s quite a journey and a rescue worker ends up dropping him off at my cousin’s home where I will be later that day. This conversation takes place later that day.)

Cousin: “So what’re you going to do with it?”

Me: “It’s going to be friends with the other gerbil I have.”

Cousin: “Will they have babies?”

Me: “No, they’re both boys. It’s fine.”

Cousin: “Well, it’d be all right, anyway. All you have to do is pull its tail off.”

Me: “Wait, what?”

Cousin: “Yeah, it’s like with dogs. If you take their tails off they can’t have babies!”

(I’d like to say my cousin was a child, but no. She was 18 at the time.)

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