Everyone roots for the underdog. Let’s face it…we’ve all been a little down on our luck at at least a couple of times in our lives. I remember my husband telling me how he counted out his last penny to buy a donut back in university. And I’m embarrassed to say that I used to take packets of strawberry jam from the cafeteria at my first job – in fact, I seem to have some in my fridge right now… But, I digress…
When you have a small business, you really do want to help out those not as fortunate as yourself. But, on the other hand, you are a business, so it is always a hard decision to make when approached by someone who needs your help, but you know is quite unlikely to pay the bill. In my experience (and, believe me, I’ve had a few), these people are usually very friendly and personable and can really talk up a good story. One of the more memorable ones comes to mind…
One morning, I received a frantic call from “Susan” (not her real name) who wasn’t having a great day and needed some help with her cats. Her family had lost their apartment, through no fault of her own, she told me, and they were desperate to find a place for 3 cats and 5 kittens to stay while they worked things out.
I felt very bad for her, but was hesitant to take on such a large number of cats. However, after her third pleading phone call, I began to feel a bit guilty for refusing to help her out. She finally broke me down and I agreed to take the cats on the one condition that she would leave a deposit, as I suspected that I could have these cats for quite some time.
She arrived a short time later with 3 adult cats and 5 kittens, along with several young children in tow. I was presented with a deposit in the form of a cheque, which I was told not to cash “just yet”. We weren’t off to a great start and I told her as much. A few extremely well placed compliments on her part ended up sealing the deal and I became the not-so-proud caregiver for all 8 of her cats.
Time went on…and on. Days turned into weeks. I tried contacting her on many occasions, and found out that her situation had not improved. I felt terrible for her, but what made it worse was every time I called, she wasn’t available to talk to me. Things started to smell a little fishy to me and it wasn’t just the cat food.
But I persevered, believing, optimistically, in my glass half full outlook on life, and that this couldn’t go on forever. However, while I was at the pet store buying more supplies for her cats, I began to feel a bit like I was the underdog in this scenario.
Then the bomb dropped. I was cleaning out the cages one morning and was shocked to see blood on the blanket. To my utter astonishment, there were two new kittens suckling on one of the adult cats. I couldn’t believe it and ran to tell my husband. His only response was: “Only two? Well, give it awhile.” And he was right. Before I knew it, there were three more, bringing our total tally of homeless cats up to 13. I do admit, they were pretty cute, but the miracle of life was a tad bittersweet in this case.
After I left some more frantic messages for the owner, she finally got back to me. The only thing she could offer was “Gee, I thought she might be pregnant…” . I was speechless and left hanging as to what she wanted me to do with her extended family of 13 cats.
More time went on and once all the kittens were weaned, I decided it was time to take matters into my own hands. Anyone that lives in the country probably has a “Kittens Available” sign sitting in their basement. Well, I found mine, dusted it off, and put it out by the road, hoping for good luck to come my way.
I didn’t have to wait long. A couple dropped by to see them and told me they had just lost a pet and were looking for a new one. I hit the jackpot – they took 3 kittens and we were both over the moon! The others also found good homes in the next few days. When the owner finally called me, I told her I had solved her problem and adopted out all the kittens. The only thing she said was “Great, then I don’t have to take them to the shelter.” In other words, she probably meant “I knew the problem would just go away if I ignored it long enough…”
Finally, after over 3 months, the remaining adult cats were picked up. Susan fumbled in her wallet for some money and came up with $50 in cash to make up for the deposit I was never allowed to cash. Promising profusely that she would come by in the next week to “settle up”, I wasn’t really surprised when I never saw her again.
Lesson learned? Well, not so much. A few years later I fell for an “evicted due to black mold” story that cost me a grand! And whoever said you get older and wiser certainly didn’t run a pet care business.
Thanks for reading!
(PS. Next time you’re out for a drive and pass one of those “Free Kitten” signs, do yourself a favour and adopt one of the bundles of joy. Or not.)