kittens, dogs, and "customer service"

  • Oct. 25th, 2010 at 10:36 PM
notemily: Photo of me, a white girl in her mid-20s, wearing glasses, smiling, looking up and to the right (dude watchin' with the brontes)
So, the rest of the weekend with kittens and doggy worked out well. After they had adjusted to the new surroundings, I opened the door and let them sniff the doggy through the baby-gate, and vice versa. They were very curious, and so was he, and eventually they learned that they could climb over the baby gate and actually hang out with him.

They had varying reactions to actually being near the dog. Tanner would try to get up close and sniff at them curiously, but he was kind of excited and not always too polite about it. Simon hissed at him whenever he got too close, but didn't mind being in the same room. Albus just ran away when he got nosey, and Barnaby would just be like "Um, what exactly are you trying to do here? Can you not sniff my butt?" Barnaby was the most tolerant, so of course he had to endure the most butt-sniffing, poor guy.

Eventually they explored the whole house and had a ton of fun sliding all around the hardwood floors and chasing each other across rooms way larger than the one they live in at my apartment. They were a little too interested in chewing on/knocking over the plants, and Simon of course found the cords to the kitchen blinds ENDLESSLY FASCINATING, but there were no major mishaps. I did discover that they like to scratch on wicker furniture, which would be a problem if they actually lived there for any length of time.

Honestly I think Tanner was more nervous about the whole thing than they were, in the end. He didn't know quite what to make of them. He's at least ten times their size, but at one point he actually jumped into my lap Scooby-Doo style, like "PROTECT ME FROM THESE VICIOUS FELINES!" He would also try to hide behind me, which was funny because the kittens would ALSO try to hide behind me to protect them from HIM, so it was a weird game of musical animals where I was the only chair.

By the time my parents got home, all the kitties were sitting on me while I watched TV and Tanner was on the couch next to us. I think he was still a little jealous that he couldn't sit in my lap, though.

The kittens have now happily settled back in at my apartment. I let them out to roam around for a while today, but it was upsetting Hypatia so Kate made me put them back in my room. Hypatia is so weird about them. She'll poke her head into my room, encounter a kitten, hiss at it and back out. She KNOWS they're in here, but she tries to come in anyway. I wish I could explain to her that it's just temporary, that she's still my #1 kitty, but she's in defense-mode all the time with hissing and low growls. They're obviously curious about her, but they respect her space and back off if she growls at them. I wish everyone could get along!

Simon has been throwing up today, and he doesn't seem too hungry for dinner, but then again the other two took like five bites of dinner and then went to sleep, so either they're all just sleepy and full from munching on dry food, or they're all coming down with some kind of sickness. NO MOAR SICKNESSES! I COMMAND IT!

Barnaby's eye is still runny, even though I've re-started the eye drops, which is worrying. It's a good thing he's so docile and tolerant of me putting liquid in his eyes. He doesn't like it, but he doesn't try to fight his way out of my arms.

I myself have been feeling like crap. Lots of headaches and general brain-no-worky. I know I'd feel better if I did my mindfulness practice, but for some reason once I've stopped doing it regularly, it's really hard to start again. Like flossing.

At work there was this inane survey that was supposed to teach us to be better at customer service, but it was just a bunch of those trick questions like "Is it legal for a man to marry his widow's sister?" and "If a plane crashes on the border between US and Canada, where do you bury the survivors?" (Answers, of course, are that widows have dead husbands and you don't bury survivors.) I guess it was supposed to teach us to look beyond the obvious and REALLY LISTEN to customers, but I could think of way better ways to do that than with something out of a much-forwarded email from the 90s.

I was really incensed by this; it just seemed like such Office Space corporate management pieces of flair bullshit. So I wrote down a bunch of sarcastic answers, including some that referred to internet memes ("How many birthdays does the average woman have in her lifetime?" "OVER 9000"), and some that were actually serious ("How many animals did Moses take on the Ark?" "This question assumes a Judeo-Christian upbringing and is therefore biased.") and signed it Hermione Granger. I... hope I don't get fired.

The thing is, and probably the reason why I was so angry, is that I ACTUALLY CARE about customer service. REAL customer service. Things like: Looking at my job from the library patron's perspective. Not using library jargon when talking to patrons. Working to consciously overcome my subconscious racist, sexist, ableist, ageist, anti-homeless, and other kyriarchical attitudes while talking to patrons. Thinking about how to make the library more accessible to people with disabilities. (Actually training clerks on things like how to deal with patrons who are blind and can't type in their own PIN number, to use one of many examples, would be helpful too.) Not blaming customers for bad design (if most patrons can't figure out how to use our self check-out machine, it's not because they're stupid, it's because the interface isn't very well-designed). Making the wording on signs as clear as possible. Not having rules that don't make sense or that have giant loopholes in them. Etc.

I won't claim to be the perfect library clerk by any means, but I know that customer service is NOT just about having a Positive Attitude and Making Eye Contact*, and it's certainly not about answering trick questions. So don't give me some bullshit survey and tell me it's supposed to make me better at customer service. Or I WILL go Hermione Granger on your ass. (I'm still spending most of my internet time over at Mark Reads Harry Potter. Because it is awesome.)

*Speaking of which, some training in common developmental disabilities and neuroatypicality and how those patrons' needs may be different than other patrons' needs would be nice.

AND NOW, for your amusement, Albus will attempt to eat my computer.

[Image description: a Siamese kitten lying under the base of a laptop computer, trying to gnaw on it.]

And Simon will look pretty.

[Image description: a gray tabby kitten lying on a peach-toned blanket.]

Pictures of kittens meeting Tanner coming soon.
notemily: Photo of me, a white girl in her mid-20s, wearing glasses, smiling, looking up and to the right (Default)
Whew! Today has been long and it's taken a toll on the kittens.

I'm dog-sitting for my parents this weekend, starting this morning, but the kittens had an appointment to get checked out this afternoon, and I didn't want to move them over to my parents' house until I knew they were going to be staying with me for another week. So I left them at my place, hung out with the dog for a bit, and then came back to take them to the Humane Society.

I saw a new vet this time, one I hadn't seen before. She was really nice and you could tell she really liked working with the kittens. She weighed them and checked them out. Albus is three pounds now (go, Albus!) and Barnaby is FOUR POUNDS! Simon is, as usual, in the middle. Everyone seems to be steadily gaining about half a pound a week.

The kittens have mostly recovered from their cold except for some occasional sneezing, but Barnaby has a runny eye. It was relieved temporarily by eye drops but as soon as I stopped the eye drops, the runniness came back. So the vet gave me more eye drops and said we'll see if that happens again.

Normally when I go there, the vet just weighs them and then gives me their meds and food and I take them home. But today they were due for all kinds of treatments. They got de-wormed, de-flead (probably don't need it but just in case), and they got a distemper vaccination. The vet warned me that they might be kind of sore in the shoulder where they got the shot, and to watch for any signs that showed they were having a reaction to the vaccine, like hives or vomiting.

So they were already kind of worn out by the time I brought them home, and THEN I had to move them, their litter box, their bed, their scratching post, their food and meds, a huge bag of kitty litter, and several cat toys over to my parents' house. This took a few trips and the kittens were nervous and confused.

When I got here, Tanner was SUPER curious about what was inside the cat carrier and followed me upstairs, sniffing it. I told him to stay out and put the kittens in the room where Hypatia stayed when she was here, and then went to work setting up all their stuff. They hid under the bed at first, but they would venture out curiously every once in a while to look around until they got spooked and hid again. Michelle, the girl who walks Tanner every day, came up to look at them and was especially enchanted by Albus. Everyone is, he's so cute. He was kind of scared though (OMG NEW PEOPLE) and didn't want to come out from under the bed.

All this I expected. But after Michelle left, the kittens started to behave strangely. They all lay down as if they were tired, but Albus and Barnaby were shivering. At first I thought it was out of fear, which would make sense for shy Albus, but Barnaby is always curious and doesn't usually get so scared that he would shiver. (Simon seemed fine, he was purry as usual. Nothing slows him down, I suppose, not even tapeworms.)

Albus went to sleep in the bed with Simon. Barnaby curled up and went to sleep on my arm, but he didn't purr when I petted him, and he was really hard to wake up. I would pick him up and he would half-open his eyes and look dazed. He stopped shivering after a few minutes, but he just kept sleeping and hardly opened his eyes. Plus, his breathing was shallow and rapid. I started to feel dread in the pit of my stomach. To look at Barnaby's face and not see his curious, alert eyes looking back--well, I was pretty scared.

I started googling vaccination side effects and shock and everything else I could think of. The websites all said that some lethargy was a mild side effect of the distemper vaccine, but they also said IF YOUR CAT SHOWS ANY SIDE EFFECTS CALL YOUR VET. So I put in a call to the foster people, on the answering machine. I wasn't sure if this was enough of an emergency to call the main line and go HELP at them. They haven't called me back, which either means it's not an emergency or they didn't check their messages.

I was afraid the shivering meant he was cold, so I put him under the blankets and against my chest. But then I read that shivering could mean fever so I wasn't sure what to do. His gums were pale, which is a sign of poor circulation, but I checked the other kittens and their gums were equally pale, so I didn't know what to think. I was like BARNABY STAY WITH ME and rubbing his limbs to try to keep his circulation up. It frightened me that he barely responded to me rubbing him all over. (Incidentally, Max and I are going to watch One Hundred and One Dalmatians tonight. I felt like Roger in the scene where he tries to revive the stillborn puppy. Rub rub rub)

Eventually I just let him sleep, but I watched his breathing and kept one hand under his chest to monitor his heart. I think I fell asleep for a little while, too. I woke up to feed the dog, and when I came back upstairs he seemed a little more alert and Barnaby-like. (The other kittens kept hiding under the bed when I opened the door, so I knew they were ok and moving around.) He was still sleepy, and I thought he was shivering again, but it turned out he was just purring, yay!

Simon was exploring the room, so I pulled out a toy mouse and threw it for him. I didn't really expect him to play if he was still nervous, but he played with it right away and then Albus got in on the action. After a few minutes, Barnaby got up from the bed and joined in the play--and then he ate some food! He was all right!

I was SO relieved. I was afraid that by getting him vaccinated and then stressing him out with the move, I had made him really sick. STOP ALMOST DYING AND GETTING RANDOM SCARY SYMPTOMS, KITTENS. I COMMAND YOU.

Once they are more comfortable with the room, I will open the door a crack (I have the baby gate up) and let them sniff the dog. If they aren't terrified, then I can leave the door open and let them jump over the baby gate to explore the rest of the house. I'm hoping the temptation of OMG A WHOLE HOUSE will override their misgivings about the dog, but we'll see. If they're still scared of him, there's no problem with keeping them in the room for the few days I'm here.

Let's have a Barnaby party for the pictures today:

[Image description: My roommate, Kate, lying on a bed, holding a tuxedo kitten up in the air over her head.]

autumn kitty
[Image description: A tuxedo kitten crouched on a sunny windowsill, looking to the left.]

ohai barnaby
[Image description: A tuxedo kitten sitting on a sunny windowsill, looking up at the camera with large amber eyes.]

Glad to have you back, Barney.
notemily: Photo of me, a white girl in her mid-20s, wearing glasses, smiling, looking up and to the right (gossip girl - natepalm)
At my parents' house, taking care of the doggy. Staying here is always weird--it feels like half vacation, half work. It's work because I have to take care of the dog, obviously, and long walks in 80-degree heat (no small thing for my physiology) and such, but it's also kind of like a vacation because they have DVR and a dishwasher and 124073485949 cable channels and a regular cleaning person. And hardwood floors and central air and a porch. You know, things I might have if I could afford them. But then I also have to go to my job, and there's no Kate and no kitty, so.

I still miss my kits, but I'm not as heartbroken anymore. I hope wherever Oliver and Ramona ended up, they are getting lots of love, and I know they're charming the pants off whomever adopted them with purrs and silly kitten antics. And maybe someday I'll find another kitty with Oliver's affectionate nature who can really be mine.

In other news, I am basically apoplectic with rage over this Feministe post. Seriously, Feministe? Fat-shaming and concern-trolling from a guest blogger? I expect better of you. I AM DISAPPOINT.

Seriously what IS this fuckery. Actual quote from one of the commenters: "by the fact that you’re eating more calories than you’re using, you’re defacto taking food from people that are going to starve to death." WHAT. Who even ARE you and what world have you been living in I CAN'T EVEN.

Fortunately there are a lot of commenters who are providing excellent rebuttals and links to stuff about HAES and FA. If you're unfamiliar with why this post is so appalling to me, I'd suggest starting with Kate Harding's excellent post "Don't you realize fat is unhealthy?"

Here, let's have some kitten pictures to cleanse the palate.

Beautiful Ramona...

And lovable Oliver...

Oliver macro-style


Oliver invites belly rubs

As always, far more at the set. I've created a best-of set as well, which contains the most popular Oliver & Ramona photos. I even created my first collection! Woo!


  • Jan. 16th, 2010 at 7:04 PM
notemily: Photo of me, a white girl in her mid-20s, wearing glasses, smiling, looking up and to the right (hp - like having friends)

Tanner and Hypatia

small, four-legged victories

  • Jan. 14th, 2010 at 3:13 PM
notemily: Photo of me, a white girl in her mid-20s, wearing glasses, smiling, looking up and to the right (hp - hogwarts express)
So I'm staying with Tanner this week while my parents are out of town. Kate is also out of town. Last year, when this same situation happened, I had to run back and forth between the dog and the cat, and the cat hated sleeping alone, so this year I brought the cat over to meet Tanner so I could take care of both of them. This has had mixed results.

The first time I introduced them, Tanner wagged his tail excitedly, and Hypatia immediately hissed at him and ran away to hide behind the sofa. Eventually I made Tanner go away so she could explore. She went upstairs and hid under my parents' bed. Tanner came and found her there, and he made motions like he wanted to play, but she puffed up (like this) and hissed again. She didn't calm down for the rest of the visit. Still, Tanner didn't eat her, which is what I had been most afraid of.

The second time I brought her over, which was the night before my parents left, I let her out of the carrier and she ran away and hid in the best hiding spot ever. Literally--we couldn't find her for three hours. We looked under beds, behind couches, under armchairs, behind the Christmas tree, in the Christmas tree, in closets, in the bathtub, etc., etc. She was nowhere. I even opened up some canned food, which is her favorite ever, to see if she would hear the noise and come out, but she didn't. I was getting kind of panicky, imagining that she had gotten outside somehow, and visions of a freezing-to-death kitty were haunting my brain.

Finally my mom had the idea of using the flashlight to look around, and she looked in the radiator and saw two yellow eyes staring at her. Hypatia was found! I was extremely relieved. My parents have these old-fashioned cast-iron radiators, and there's one of them under the window-seat in the front room. There's a little space behind the radiator, and since it's covered on top by the window-seat it makes an excellent hiding place. According to my mom, it's also where my hamster used to hide when I was a kid and she got out of her cage.

I enticed the kitteh out of hiding with wet food--she must have been very hungry, because I hadn't refilled her food bowl that day since I knew I'd be taking her to my parents'. She was covered in dust, so she looked more like a black/gray kitty than a black/white kitty. As soon as she was far enough out, I grabbed her and took her upstairs to the room I had prepared for her, with a litter box and food and water. I closed the door so she would feel safe. She hid under the bed for a while, but eventually came out and sniffed around and ate a little more food.

I kept the door closed that night, and the next day I put a baby-gate on the door so the dog couldn't get in, but she could get out if she wanted to explore. (Tanner probably could jump over the baby gate, but he doesn't because he's afraid of it falling on him. Scaredy dog.) She stayed mostly in the room for the next couple of days. She cautiously explored outside it, but if the dog got too close she'd run back in her room. She also FINALLY used the litter box, which I was getting worried about because she hadn't used it in almost 24 hours. Teh Intarwebs say cats can stop peeing if they're stressed out, though.

This morning I woke up to find that the cat wasn't in her/my room! She had gotten brave enough during the night to venture out onto the stairs, and she was looking over the downstairs foyer, while the dog was asleep on the couch in the TV room. I was so happy that she wasn't terrified of him anymore. She's still kind of alarmed by his huge (to her) size and jumpy movements, but she isn't frozen with fear anymore if she's walking around the house by herself.

When I left for work, Tanner was following her and nosing at her, and she was mewing with alarm, but I was about to be late so I had to close the door even as she followed me to it, possibly seeking rescue. I know Miss Hypatia can take care of herself, but I was still worried about how they'd get along. I spent my time at work imagining bloody animal parts strewn around the house. (My cat is kind of like my kid that way, in that I spend a lot of time imagining horrible things that could happen to her.) But of course when I got home they were fine, hanging out in completely separate parts of the house.

Now I'm sitting on the couch with my computer and Tanner actually came and lay down beside me while the cat was on my other side, and Hypatia didn't run away. Same room! Not killing each other! Woo!

They have a couple more days to hang out and then Kate gets home on Saturday, so I can move the kitty back home. I'm sure she'll be glad to be back with Kate and her own house, but I'm glad she doesn't seem to totally hate it here.

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