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Is It Plugged In? - 3/30/2010

I was minding my own business trying to grab a quick bite of lunch when I heard that hup-hup-hup sound all clinic volunteers have been trained to hear no matter how far away or muffled it is--the post-op puke. I went to the cat in recovery; it had already left a puddle around its head. I silently wondered whether I should pick it up and just hold it over its blanket to let it finish there or if I should hold it over the floor. I don't know why... I almost thought it was the wrong thing to do as I was doing it... but I chose to hold it over the floor. Within about 15 seconds, it projectile vomitted, creating a 4-foot diameter puke puddle in the middle of the recovery room. As I stood there holding the cat way out in front of me (fearful its head was going to start to spin around), everyone turned and looked at me. All I could say was, "Clean up on Aisle 4?" On the bright side, at least I'd done the right thing by holding the cat over the floor. If I'd kept it on the recovery table, we'd still be cleaning the table, the bedding, the walls... The cat is ok now. He just went back to sleep. He probably won't even remember it happened. Just remember, when they say, "Don't feed the cat after midnight," they have a good reason.

I got back to finish my lunch, a "Luncheables." I was just about done with the sub-standard-size Reeses Peanut Butter cup when Rae said, "Where did you get chocolate?" Boy, did I feel guilty. I wanted to swallow and say, "What chocolate?" but I mumbled, ashamed, "It ... was ... in ... my .. lunch." We had 3 of us to do knockdown, and we'd gotten ahead of the vets, so I offered to run out to 7-11 for more chocolate. I spent $12.36 on Mini Oreos, Nutter Butter Bits, a Milkyway, a 3 Musketeers, King Size Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, a Peppermint Patty, a Snickers, a Twix, and two Orange Cadbury Cream Eggs. Few people know this but chocolate sterilizes cats, at least indirectly. Feed volunteers and vets chocolate and cats get sterilized. Without it, things can get ugly. I do want to thank the checker at 7-11 for not commenting on my purchase. The time I bought 6 Hershey Pies at Burger King, they asked me if it was "for here or to go." The whole line of people behind me laughed.

Thanks to Jim H. for building us more tables on wheels! Wow! Felicia and Mike J. spent the weekend re-organizing the clinic and it was like a whole new place. From the knockdown person's perspective, it was awesome. All the cats were on tables with wheels. We could move the tables around to make it easier to access the cats. The new tables are also higher off the ground, so I hardly had to get down on my knees at all. It's really starting to feel like a clinic instead of like a place "we're still moving in to."

We sterilized 87 cats today. Jackie and Julianne were both on vacation, so our Friday vet, Melissa, came in. We also had a special guest vet. It was fun to work with two people I haven't seen in a while. It was a good day, for the most part...

When we first arrived, the preppers noticed that there was only one working clipper. It's pretty tough to do a double clinic with only one clipper. Sue M2 (there are two Sue M's) volunteered to go to a pet store to buy another one. It cost about twice as much as it would have cost if we'd been able to order it online. We could have borrowed one from the Claymont cinic in the meantime. The difference in cost would have been enough to sterilize 3 or 4 cats. It's a real bummer when you see a missed opportunity to save some money like that. But it's hard work and sometimes things fall through the cracks. Sometimes it feels like we have 10,000 balls in the air at once.

And the computer broke. Sue M1 told me she'd turned it off and on and nothing would make it work. I asked, "Is it plugged in?" Actually, the computer seemed fine; the power light was on and the fan was running. But there was no input to the monitor. When I was convinced I'd failed miserably at fixing the problem--hey, I'm a software person--I called Terri. She said, "Is it plugged in?" Terri re-arranged her schedule to come over and she couldn't figure it out either. She escalated the issue up to the next level, her husband (see I'm not the only one who has turned Forgotten Cats into a family affair). Dave said, "Is it plugged in?" Terri took the whole kit-and-kaboodle (by this time we'd tried two different computers hooked to two different monitors in all combinations) and took it home. Terri called this evening and as of this last report, IT'S DEFINITELY PLUGGED IN. Actually, she thinks she's got it working. It seems someone had changed a setting somewhere. Terri and Dave found it and changed it back. But not in time for poor Sue M1 who had to write out all of today's paperwork by hand. :(

Afterwards, I had to go up to my brother's house. The kids are on spring break on a ski trip, and today was my day to look in on the kittens. Momma cat greeted me by scampering off and watching me from behind a chair. I turned to go up the stairs to the bedroom where the kittens stay and Momma bolted passed me and leaped over the plywood "gate" that keeps the kittens in the bedroom. I thought at first she was protecting them from me, but I realized later that she knew I was going to feed her. I opened a can of food, mashed it up in the can, and put it on the floor. Momma competed with 3 kittens for a spot around the can. 2 other kittens watched longingly from a distance. The last kitten latched onto a teat under Momma. I opened another can and it drew two of the kittens who'd been competing with Momma, which still left two kittens with none. I opened up two more cans for a total of four. Momma moved from can to can, tasting each flavor. Teat kitten hung on all along. She walked; he dragged on the floor. She stepped on him and he scrambled out from under her foot without losing his grip. Slowly the kittens (all but the biggest one) decided to nurse. They stood underneath her, and Momma just kept eating and moving from can to can. Finally she'd eaten enough and laid down. Five of the six kittens laid there with her and nursed. The sixth kitten jumped up on the computer desk and stepped on the keyboard, waking the computer out of its hibernation. I guess he was checking to see if it was plugged in.

--Maria

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