Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Cat-22 - Jeff The Cat Goes to the Big House

The players in our story
For 13 years we've shared space with Jeff the Cat, a yellow tabby of terrific intelligence but ornery disposition.

Every once in a while, Jeff decides that there's something very attackable about Jamie beneath the knees.  He's been hunting her shins and feet as long as he's lived with us.  Not all the time, but often enough, and especially when Jamie's asleep and gets the jimmy legs.

Last Tuesday Jeff the Cat attacked Jamie's foot in the middle of the night, and I was put forth with an ultimatum:  The Cat Sleep Locked in the Bathroom or Jamie Retreats to the Guest Room.  I kind of like having my little buddy hanging with me when I go to sleep and when I wake up, but I also like being married, and so Jeff has a new sleeping arrangement.

I saw the bruise on Jamie's foot, and it wasn't that big or bad, and I didn't think much of it until Saturday she called me and said she was headed for the Urgent Care clinic to get it looked at.  "Okay," I said.  "I am going to go watch the football game.  Alert me when you're home."

Upon my arrival home Jamie informed me that the Urgent Care clinic had made her fill out a form about the cat if she wanted to be seen and treated.  And pretty much from there I knew this was going to get complicated.

Early Sunday morning we got our first call from Austin Animal Control asking for Jeff's records.
"Is he up to date on his shots?"
"He had his rabies shots this year?"
"No, his medication was good for three years according to our veterinarian."
"The city of Austin requires animals be vaccinated every year."
"Well, he's an inside cat and isn't exposed to other animals, and the shot is good for three years."
"Are you aware that the city of Austin requires animals be vaccinated every year?"
"Well, he is vaccinated-"
"Has he been exposed to any other animals?"
"Well, we have dogs."
Interminable pause.
"They're up on their shots.  Look, it's our cat.  He doesn't have rabies."
"Do you know that your cat needs to be vaccinated every year?"
And then it sort of turned into a conversation about quarantining the cat, which, you know...  he's already sort of quarantined in our upstairs where he lives, but apparently that's not good enough.

The Vet was closed Sunday, and again on Monday for the holiday.

On Monday we had a conversation with animal control that went like this:

"Is he up to date on his shots?"
"He had his rabies shots this year?"
"No, his medication was good for three years according to our veterinarian."
"The city of Austin requires animals be vaccinated every year."
"Well, he's an inside cat and isn't exposed to other animals, and the shot is good for three years."
"Are you aware that the city of Austin requires animals be vaccinated every year?"
etc...  etc....

I mean, my hat is off.  The City of Austin has people working on this detail weekends and holidays.  How Atticus Finch could have used their support.

Tuesday Animal Control called, and we called the Vet, and the Vet called (and yelled at) Animal Control.  And Animal control called Jamie and apparently that went poorly.

I didn't want to say anything to Jamie, but I was pretty well aware that if the city felt like it, they could come get the cat and quarantine him and/ or cut off his head to check for rabies.  If we didn't quarantine him, we were going to get stuck with a massive fine for everyday he wasn't in lock up.

I'm pretty aware of what happens when the wheels are in motion with bureaucrats working from a check sheet rather than what's actually happening....  The problem is that you're working uphill from all the crazy cat ladies, people with ferocious iguanas, stray pit bulls, etc...  all of whom have a good story or three, and there's nothing the bureaucrat on the phone hasn't heard, and they are way, way past caring, even if the check sheet allowed for improvisation - which it sounds like, it does not.  The city person's job is literally to not listen to a word you're saying and stick to their check sheet and put your cat in lock-up if you filled out the form at the doctor because you thought maybe you should get that bruise looked at.

I am also aware that, if you push them, it doesn't take all that much for them to mark the wrong box and suddenly your cat's in an incinerator somewhere and they're cutting you a check for $50 as "an apology".

So, I was semi-satisfied when all that happened was that, for no particular reason we are having to board our cat and the good news is that it doesn't look like he's going to be put down.

Jamie is less happy.  It didn't help matters that when she spoke to her doctor, she'd been bitten by a neighbor's pit bull and visited the same urgent care clinic and they hadn't made her fill out the form.
(edit:  By "doctor" I mean veterinarian.  We call them "the doctor" or "the vet" interchangeably at our house.  Because we are crazy pet people, I'd suppose.)

Check back with me on the 8th to see if Jeff makes it out alive.

the malaise of the criminal minded cat
I guess I'm less irritated with all this than Jamie.  We've got a clear path on what's going to happen, or what should happen.  What annoyed me the most was that rather than tell us "here's what you have to do" the city kept asking us questions trying to catch us in a lie, and when reality didn't match up with their check-sheet, they clearly were at a loss and had to proceed as if we were lying.  And I'm annoyed that the clinic forced Jamie to fill out a form from animal control if she wanted to be seen.

Anyway, basically I'm telling you people to lie your heads off if the emergency clinic requests you fill out a form for animal control when you go to seek treatment for an accidental injury caused by your housepet.

Of course they called again today to make sure we weren't lying about boarding our cat.


RHPT said...

This is sad.

mcsteans said...

Just a few clarifications:

1. I do not rush to the doctor for a bruise. This was a small cat bite that barely scratched the skin that had in a week quadrupled in size, was swollen and painful. Because of my medical issues, I have to be extremely careful about infections, and Jeff did give me an infection from a bite about 10 years ago. I thought I was doing the right thing, but in retrospect, I kind of wish I'd left it alone.

2. The Urgent Care clinic was so empty that I was already being treated before I even turned the forms in. I tried NOT to turn the Animal Control form over, and asked if I had to since it was my cat, but yeah, it was too late - I'd already been seen.

4. Totally not important, but the doctor who got bit by the pit bull was Jeff's vet, not my doctor.

I was livid about this situation yesterday, but now I'm just resigned and sad for poor Jeff and pissed about whatever boarding bill we'll have from the vet.

I also love that the city is so damn concerned about my possibly rabid indoor 13 year old very healthy cat but could give a sh*& about me, the human who was actually bitten. (No, I do not believe I have rabies, just furious about the inconsistencies)

The League said...

Don't let Jamie fool you, she is totally frothing at the mouth. A sure sign of rabies in people is that they always forget their third point.

Maxo said...

Ugh - what bureaucratic nonsense. I'm sorry you guys are having to go through this BS, and hopefully Jeff will be home soon.

RHPT said...

The League said...

Jamie went through this in 2002. It's called "Cat Scratch Fever" and it ain't just a song by Ted Nugent.

Simon MacDonald said...

Oh man, what complete BS. So sorry you guys had to go through this. My wife went through a similar thing at the wildlife centre where she works. The Ministry of Natural Resources came by one day and seized all of the racoons they were rehabilitating. Nominally they were told it was because racoons are a rabies vector species. Racoon rabies is very rare in Ontario, the last reported case being in 2005. Sadly, a week later the MNR opened a new research centre. Through the freedom of information act they were able to discover that their racoons were used to populate the research centre. Basically, the MNR went shopping for animals instead of trapping them for themselves. Bureaucrats!

J.S. said...

In all fairness, given the sheer number of atrocities he's committed, it's about time that Jeff was incarcerated for something. It's always the family that suffers most though, right?