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All Cats Are Evil, But This One Is Special

, , , , , , , | Healthy | December 28, 2022

I’m a young adult still living with my family. A very fat cat starts hanging about in our garden. We name her Bacon Sandwich, a reference to the British TV show, The Young Ones. We shoo her out of our garage, and the next thing we know, she’s given birth to four kittens in the garden next door; the house there is currently empty. So, this stray and her babies are now our responsibility. We feed the mum, and eventually, all five of them once the kittens are weaned. We name the kittens Rick, Neil, Mike, and Vyvyan, after the four Young Ones. The names are given randomly, but Vyvyan — named after the destructive punk character — got the right name.

After discussion, we decide that we will look after the young ones, so we find a new home for Bacon Sandwich (who hopefully got a better name, too) and call the vet about the four kittens, who enjoy pats but are semi-feral. We explain the situation, and the vet offers us a very good deal on neutering all four, which are of unknown gender. This is called TNR — trap, neuter, and release.

We drive to the vet and buy four cardboard cat transport boxes. These are wild cats we are going to feed, not pets, so we don’t expect to take them to the vet again, hence the single-use boxes. We wrestle all four cats into their boxes, and three sit noisily, but Vyvyan’s paw shoots out the air hole and claws out, and she has ripped through the cardboard in seconds!

We make a second trip to the vet to purchase the plastic version of the same cat box; this one proves strong enough to hold her.

The veterinary service knows the history of the cats, and we tell them about Vyvyan’s escape. We know she’s a punk — she once hopped over the fence, we heard wild yapping from the dog next door, and she returned a moment later with the dog’s ball in her mouth, and she dropped it and never looked at it again — but she has never hurt any of us or showed us any aggression.

The vet never told us what happened at her appointment. All I know is that they asked us to never bring Vyvyan back. I took a sneaky peak at her medical records, and they described her as a “naughty kitty”.

As vets put up with a lot of trouble, I think she must have really hurt one of them. I was afraid to ask!

Not So Cut-And-Dry (Food)

, , , | Healthy | December 19, 2022

I had a cat a while back who was suddenly not well. We took him to the emergency vet, who performed surgery. They told us they’d need to keep him for a few days.

A day or so later, we got a call.

Vet’s Office: “Please come pick [Cat] up.”

Me: “I thought he needed to stay another day or two.”

Vet’s Office: “No, it’s time.”

When I went back to get him, he was in one of the usual cages along the wall, one that was fairly high up. That’s when they told me the real story.

[Cat] was not eating his food; they didn’t know that he only likes dry food and hated the canned they had. They kept trying but thought that he was just too sick or something. When the vet tech came to care for him, he hit the edge of the bowl and managed to splatter the food all over her.

She thought, “Poor thing, he’s having trouble controlling his muscles,” and gave him extra love.

An hour or two later, he had a fresh bowl of food, and the tech opened his cage. He swatted the bowl just so and, yep, all over her.  

And that’s when they called me to take him home… where he got his kibble.

A Painful Sign That Management Doesn’t Care

, , , , , | Working | December 8, 2022

I once worked at a veterinarian’s office as a receptionist. One of the receptionist’s duties was to drag a large hanging sandwich-style sign across the building, across the parking lot, and up a hill and position it by the road. When we closed, we were to drag it back down the hill, across the parking lot, and back into the building, where we were supposed to clean it and put it away for the night.

Though made of plastic, this sign weighed quite a bit, and though it had wheels on one side, there was no way to really steady it when going uphill, especially when the wind kicked up.

I worked there for a very brief period one winter. My first write-up was for not putting the sign out by the road on my first morning opening. I hadn’t been told it existed, so I hadn’t known to do it. My write-up was excused.

I soon learned that every worker tried their best to not take the sign outside in the winter because its incredibly clumsy design would cause it to flap around wildly in the wind. When the hillside was icy, the sign would often get away from you and go tearing off toward a customer’s parked car. Several times, I slipped, fell, and skidded across the parking lot trying to wrassle the sign down the hill at night.

The entire reception staff had bruises and cuts from the sign. One person had a large slash across her neck from where she got tangled in the sign as they fell down the hill. I sliced open a finger on the sharp edge of the sign. I watched a coworker slide across the parking lot like a curling stone on one knee as the sign sailed gracefully into a parked and very much still-occupied car. Mercifully, the damages to the customer’s car were negligible.

Just to add some gravy to this insult entree, we also had to endure complaints about the sign. Sometimes the wind would blow it into the road, so we’d have to dodge heavy traffic to retrieve it. We also had city representatives come in frequently to tell us that signs like that were against city code. We’d keep it inside for a few days, and then the order would come down that we needed to drag it back out again.

Every other week, we had a team meeting, and at every meeting, the entire staff lobbied against the clinic owner and his wife to have the sign removed. They refused because it was “important to bring in new business.”

The twist, you see, is that we were already overbooked two months out, and aside from three blocks of time set aside for emergencies, we couldn’t accommodate new business. Two local practices had just closed and we had absorbed their clients, and one of our three doctors had left the practice. The remaining doctors were incredibly overwhelmed, working open to close seven days a week. They were very much proponents of removing the sign, but even they got shut down. The owners insisted that we needed more business, and they even threatened to get divorced if we didn’t increase profit margins.

None of us actually cared if they got divorced, so the sign would go out during daylight hours only if we felt like it. The owner was too busy to notice, and his wife was busy watching the contractors work on their home renovation.

But, they did occasionally notice. Eventually, it got to the point where they threatened to short the entire staff’s pay for each day the sign was not out or for each day the sign was left out overnight.

I quit for other reasons before this policy went into effect, but thanks to social media, I saw that the entire reception staff and tech team (both teams in charge of the stupid sign) quit within two months of my departure.

Was it all due to the sign? No, of course not. But if you work in a place that is that indifferent to the wellness of their human staff because the owner’s wife wants more money… perhaps moving along is in your best interests.

At Least It Wasn’t A Parrot

, , , , , | Healthy | December 8, 2022



A woman comes into the vet with a cat carrier.

Woman: “My cat is very lethargic.”

She then pulls forth from the carrier a deceased cat and stares expectantly at me.

Um… yep, that’s pretty lethargic, all right!

I was just kind of flabbergasted that at no point while shoving the poor animal into the carrier, driving it over, pulling it out, etc., did it ever occur to her that maybe this was no longer a living creature. While she was sad upon learning the truth, she wasn’t distraught to the extent that I could chalk it up to severe denial.

She just didn’t… notice.

She Lacks The Bare Necessities To Be A Rat

, , , | Related | November 21, 2022

As a child, I kept hamsters for some years, but eventually, I decided I didn’t want any more pets for a little while, so my mum and I put our hamster paraphernalia away for a year or two.

Then, a family friend phoned: her neighbour had found a hamster in the garden, and if we still had the equipment, could we look after it? My mum eventually agreed, and we were brought a sweet little white dwarf hamster. We brought her to the vet the next day, and she was pronounced fine and probably an escapee. We put up some “found” posters and named her Mowgli, for an adoptee found in the wilderness.

Later that day, my mum’s friend visited and commented that she didn’t know my mum kept rats. My mum had a serious phobia of rats and completely panicked, despite my protests that the animal was obviously a hamster. I persuaded her to call the vet before she put Mowgli out again. So, in tears, she phoned the vet to ask if Mowgli was a rat.

The vet paused, and, clearly trying to be minimally sarcastic, asked:

Vet: “Has Mowgli doubled in size? Has she grown a long scaly tail? Has her face changed shape?”

My mum admitted none of these things had happened, and the vet assured her that she would have pointed it out to us if our hamster wasn’t a hamster. 

It still took a few weeks for my mum to feel comfortable around Mowgli, but eventually, they made friends. No one ever claimed Mowgli, so she spent a little over two happy years with us.

I still wonder sometimes how hard the vet laughed after my poor mum’s phone call.