Friday, October 29, 2010

Guest Blogger Tawny: The ones who get to me.

Hello! I'm Tawny, college student and kitten manager at the pet store. I've worked there for about two and a half years, and I've been the kitten manager for almost 6 months at the time of this writing. I've had my fair share of "omg I want this critter D:"s but as a dorm-dweller, this is forbidden. I'm partial to cats and german shepherds, and find myself easily becoming attached to those that stay with us a while. For the most part once the critter in question has found a home, I can look back and assure myself that there will be others more special at a more appropriate time. I still think I should have grabbed Fes (Pronounced Fez) though. I don't know where I would have kept him, but it might have been worth the trouble.

This is the way the kitten chain works in our store: Somebody's cat had kittens about 8 weeks ago, they call me. I have a series of questions I ask before they bring them in for an inspection. When were they born, indoors or out, how many, have they seen a vet, had any vaccines or wormings, are they eating hard food, using the litter box, do they have any diarrhea or discharge from the nose or eyes. I won't take them if they were born outdoors, are younger than 7 weeks (I prefer 8, but most people can't wait to get rid of them) or I'm unhappy with the answer to any of my other questions. If their answers are satisfactory, they can arrange a time when I'm working to bring them in for me to look at. Ears, eyes, nose, mouth, capillary refill, evidence of parasites or diarrhea. All good? Alright, I'll take them, give them a worming and a 3-in-1 vaccine, flea bathe and sell them, provided I don't find a reason why they shouldn't be sold in the time it takes to make space for them out front.

Occasionally, someone will almost completely circumvent this process. A vet in the area called and told me they have five cats, about four months old, with their first few vaccines and wormings done already including rabies. I took them to the local SPCA to get fixed, and then put them out for sale immediately. The two girls sold quickly, and two of the boys. Every time I came in I expected an empty cage, and every time there was a cheery male tabby rubbing against the bars. I would take him out and set him on one of the display cat trees and he would play peek-a-boo, or chase a string through an obstacle course of scratching posts. If I got called away to the register, I could set him on the counter without worrying about him taking off, or put him under the counter and he would just chill there.

He was in our largest kitten cage, about chest height, an arm's length deep and twice as wide with two shelves to climb on. But he was a reasonably sized cat, and so I would take him out sometimes and just let him loose in the kennel to hide and lounge and tease puppies. I'm convinced that he was a clinic cat for at least a little while, because the puppies yapping and growling at him never phased him. Even when there were no bars separating the puppies from him, and they were prancing around and barking and nudging him, they couldn't scare him. I was also told that he was a great mouser. I wish I had been there to see it. One of the other employees was cleaning a hamster cage, and one of them got loose. I'm told that they took Fes out and he chased the hamster out of hiding, allowing another worker to grab the hamster and put him back safely. This may sound cruel to the hamster, but the other alternative was finding him dead or dying in a trap. Fes saved that hamster's life, even if that's not what he thought he was doing.

One day not too long after the hamster incident, I got a text saying "Fes is going home". I didn't get to meet them, but I was assured that it was a good family. I still miss him, and I wish Boss Man would have agreed to let us keep him as a store cat. Wherever he is, I'm sure he's made himself quite comfortable as long as there's food around for him.

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