Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Sweet Stick Kitty

My cat Snuffy had to get an ultrasound at the vet yesterday, to try to find the root of his drastic weight loss. Comprehensive blood tests, physicals and constant monitoring have revealed no reason for it, so this was the next step.

I know that I'm going to sound like a hysterical cat lady, and I don't give a crap - I've been sick to my stomach with worry. He's been consistently losing weight over the past year, despite a ravenous appetite and our pampering him with all of the treats and people food he could beg for, and now he is underweight by quite a noticable amount.

This little guy has been with me for 13 years, from the day he walked up to me as a ferral kitten and fell asleep in my lap, through the death of both of my parents, as well as plenty of other dark times and disappointments, and I don't know what I'll do when the time comes that he won't be around any more. He was my first "real" pet, after a hamster that did nothing but try to escape, and some mice that did nothing but breed, and he is like a child to me.

No matter how nice the vet and his staff are, there always seems to be some miscommunication, and they lived up to my expectations yet again. First, the vet told me that if he needed an ultrasound, Snuff would be able to eat the night before. This is a rather big deal when you have more than one cat, because I would have to take up the crunchy bowl from both cats all night so that Snuffy wouldn't get any. Then, of course, I would have two pissed off cats in the morning, and Snuffy most of all, considering his constant state of hunger.

It's a good thing the vet mentioned that to me, because the message on my answering machine confirming the date of the appointment said no food the night before. Well, I fed the little buggers, relying on the vet's word over the staff person's word, and my instincts were correct. When I asked him why they would say that on the machine, he said that they don't know the precautions for all of the tests, so they sometimes err on the side of caution and just say no food before most of the procedures! Geez. I mean, I'd rather they be overcautious with my pets than the alternative, but I'd much rather they be precise.

Anyway, the other bit of miscommunication was a bad game of telephone, literally. I gave the vet my cell phone number, so they could let me know when to pick up Snuffy, so they could reach me no matter where I might be. I most likely would be at work all day, and they have that number too, but I wanted to be reachable at lunchtime and while running work errands, etc. "Call my cell phone", I asked. That's not too hard to remember, right?

Well, it's quickly approaching 4:00, the time the vet told me would be the latest to come pick him up, and still no call. So, I checked with them, and one of the staff said, "Oh, you're at work? 'Cause they left a message on your answering machine at home."

It's 4:00 in the afternoon. How many of their clients are home by 4:00 in the afternoon? You know what, after a bit of consideration, that number might be quite high, given the larger than average degree of stay home moms that live in the area, not to mention the rich ladies that lunch, the self-employed, the people who work from home, and the retired. Damn, I'm doing something wrong here. I should be home at 4:00 p.m.! Why am I at work at 4:00 p.m.? What a schmuck.

Um, I digressed there. My point actually was that of all three phone numbers they have for me, they chose the one at which I was least likely to be reached. Which wouldn't be a big deal, except I specifically TOLD them where to get me. So, what, would they have kept Snuffy overnight if I didn't finally call them myself before they left for the evening? Or would one of the geniuses decide to perhaps open a manila folder and find my other CLEARLY MARKED phone numbers? Hmmm?

Aw hell, I just get pissed off at the reliability of their incompetence. Don't get me started on the overall level of imcompetence and surliness of the customer service people in the New York metro area. Really, it's not pretty once I get going on that rant. (Note to self: Future post actually should be about general shittiness of customer service in this area.)

Well, after racing over to rescue Snuffy from a nightmarish sleep-over at the vets, listening to the whining of DOGS! DOGS! HORRIBLE DOGS!! (Snuffy's opinion, not mine), I found out that there is nothing wrong with Snuffy except old age. (Commence emotional equivalent of dancing a jig. Oh, okay, stop that, it looks very silly.)

I had no idea exactly how worried I was about the results, until after I got home with my poor stick kitty, and stuffed him full of KFC. This overwhelming wave of exhaustion hit me, and as I was drifting off into a coma on the couch with my trusted furry companion, I knew just how much stress I was under until I heard the good news. It took everything out of me to try not to think about him all day, and then to try not to break into sobs of relief when I heard that it wasn't something terrible.

And to think, this is how I felt when everything was fine.
I just pity whoever is around me some fateful day when the vet gives me bad news about my Snuffy. That will be the day I loose my shit, big time.

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