Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Cat People of PetSmart

There is a glass enclosed room at our local PetSmart, where there are used kitties of all makes and models stacked in cages for your selection. Several times a day there's a trained, professional volunteer whose job it is to let them out of their cages so they can climb on the furniture and strike a pose on the carpeted feline jungle gyms. 
          Potential cat owners can come into the inner sanctum to enjoy some up close and personal kootchie-coo time with this colorful crew of tabbies, calicos, long hairs, short hairs, and the occasional fancy breed. Many, if not most of these kitties have been saved from euthanasia in the proverbial nick of time. This up close and personal visitation is all part of the auditioning process, to help these furry creatures earn a second chance to barf up their hairballs, pee on the carpet, and leave cement hockey pucks in a fresh batch of kitty litter at some new owner's home. 
          Visiting this cat room is kind of like strolling through the red light district in Amsterdam. Except at $150 and up, the felines are more expensive. I have the distinct impression that the animals have been provided by local rescue groups, based on the name atop the extensive questionnaire one has to fill out. It sure isn't PetSmart. 
          Two pages of information are required. Besides your job contacts, along with the number of people and other pets in your household, the cars you drive, and your salary last year, you are required to submit an admission of guilt, if and when, you've ever had to give up any of your previous furballs of love. Like say, if she died. Better have a good reason. 
          Plus, there's an age limit. That's right. People over 75 are considered too old. No doubt this is just another conspiracy to rid the world of one of our nation's most important resources -- the neighborhood cat lady, a job which we all know requires the services of an elderly person, preferably a woman. She is not to be confused with a member of the Cat People, a militant feminist group who post on facebook, march against euthanasia, and remain dedicated to keeping you from adopting a cat at all costs from PetSmart. Not since PETA started throwing blood on fur coats has there been a more self righteous bunch of beyotches so determined to keep cats imprisoned in cages while they prevent anyone from taking them home. 
          Prospective owners endure the rigamarole of filling out "the forms" just to qualify to be considered for their "vetting" process. That's when the Cat People really start to give you a hard time. PetSmart, like most national chains, probably doesn't give-a-sh*t who gets a cat, as long as papers have been signed and money has been paid. It's these devoted volunteer Cat People from the rescue groups who make the ordeal such a pain in the ass. 
          And therein lies the problem. When -- and most importantly WHY -- did cats get so hard to own? Whatever happened to the days of getting a free kitten from someone in the neighborhood whose pet got knocked up by a traveling tom? The father of the kittens was usually long gone, leaving little evidence of his transgression, save for some unusual color variations. Where are the old ladies you could count on to take in every stray so no cat was left behind? Not at PetSmart, I can assure you.  
          Yesterday a relative of mine got a phone call from one of the PetSmart Cat People. They had a cat for her. The last time they had a cat for her she only qualified for a senior cat [7 or 8 years old] because she is an "older" woman. Older than I am, as a matter of fact. Unfortunately, she had to return the cat, because he didn't pass its physical when she had it checked out by her vet. You would think that PetSmart would do that beforehand, but apparently not.
          The poor thing had diabetes. This time my deserving relative was supposed to get a younger, healthier cat. Yay! While she filled out the paperwork, I spent time babysitting a couple of dogs for one of the volunteers. I kept them entertained by walking them around the store. And talking babytalk to them. I was a regular Barbara Woodhouse. 
          An hour passed and I noticed the cat carrier was still sitting on the table without a cat inside. I looked through the windows and saw four Cat People talking with my family member. The cat she was supposed to adopt was lounging around on the jungle gym, unperturbed. Finally, someone came out, took the dog I was tending and invited me inside the cat sanctuary to join their discussion. 
          For some reason, they were talking about the cat that my relative had returned months ago, because it had diabetes. Apparently someone else had been chosen to get the cat. Only she decided to get a divorce and gave the cat to a friend. This is AGAINST THE RULES!! Apparently the cat has now disappeared and the Cat People are trying to get it back. 
          If you're like me, at this point, you're wondering, WTF does this have to do with MY family. Isn't this a problem for the Cat People to take care of? Just give us -- sorry SELL US -- the new cat and we'll be out of here.
          But things didn't happen that way. After another half hour of discussion about how to get the diabetic cat back -- I finally said, "You know, that cat is dead. If the people won't tell you where it is and how to get it back, it's gone." Since my family has attorneys they wanted one of them to write a letter to the woman and make her bring the cat back. 
          Because I wasn't the one adopting, I didn't scream, "Okay, so you'll get a letter! Meanwhile! Do we get to take the new cat you promised or not?" Apparently the answer was no, because we left with an empty carrier. I'm still flabbergasted, since THEY CALLED US! 
         The B.S. Factor of that little episode -- for those of you keeping track -- is close to 94. It would be higher, except I didn't mind playing with the dogs.


Donna said...

Wow! The cost isn't that high in our area. Wayside Waifs has a program that allows senior people to adopt senior pets (over five years old) for half the regular price. Plus, they have special times when the adoption fee is about 1/4 the usual. They are especially lenient with cat adoptions because, as the volunteers will tearfully (I mean real tears) tell you, there are more cats that there are people who want to adopt them.
I guess Wayside Waifs isn't so bad after all.

AlbGlinka said...

Hey Mrs L: that's a pretty strange story considering how many kitties and doggies are euthanized every year!

Nice to catch up with your blog-- love all the photos on recent entries, both landscape and nieces/nephews. Hope you are well, seems like you're feisty as ever...

Chris said...

Hell, cats aren't hard to own.

First week of December, Alexis was the intermediary between a coworker moving to California and an acquaintance. No good deed goes unpunished...the deal fell through after the coworker was already gone. Guess who now owns a cat. Did I mention I'm a dog person?

Forget, Petsmart...what's your family member's address, I'll ship the cat UPS on Monday!

(Just kidding, he's grown on us as much as I don't care for cats.)