Another year older and deeper in debt. I’d say that sums today up nicely.
Oh, by the way, anybody want to adopt a black-and-white kitten in ten days’ time? If so, you know how to find me.
I’d called out sick yesterday, so I missed the opening scenes of this drama. Apparently the head of our security, along with one of the senior members of my department, became involved in extricating a kitten from one of our rodent traps. These traps are all about the perimeter of our building, and are of the type where the rat enters, takes the bait, and leaves. It turns out that the hole is big enough for an approximately seven-week old kitten to enter as well, but not big enough for the same kitten to exit.
In his efforts to free the kitten, the chief of security (who henceforth will be known as “Andy” because he’s just as nice as good ol’ sheriff Andy was back in Mayberry) was bitten in the thumb. The kitten didn’t mean it; it was more a fright-bite than anything else. After they successfully got the kitten extricated, Andy and my coworker took it out back to the furthest most reaches of the boundaries of our property and released it. Andy then went to the infirmary to get the bite wound treated. Which is when he found out about rabies.
Ever hear of “Where’s Waldo?” Well, this morning I walked into a similar game, called “Where’s Kitten?”. Luckily, Kitten hadn’t wandered far from where it had been left. Finding Kitten and catching Kitten are two different things though.
For obvious reasons, nobody wanted to get bitten. Interestingly enough, we had no equipment appropriate for kitten catching. When I came upon the scene, at about 7:30 this morning, the kitten was hiding under a pile of concrete fragments, mewing piteously and scared to death to come into range (thanks to the idiots who had been trying to catch it by throwing a coat over it). My arrival was greeted enthusiastically by those on the scene, all but one of whom left soon after The Vet’s arrival. The only one who stayed was Andy, who rightly figured that since he was the one exposed, he was the one with the least to lose if he got bitten again.
I was successful in coaxing Kitten into coming within two feet of me, but it was careful to stay just out of reach. I figured that this could be an all day endeavor, which did not inspire enthusiasm since rain was predicted for the afternoon. So I told Andy I was running out to the nearby hardware store for a Havahart trap, and I’d be back as soon as humanly possible. Andy stayed and kept watch over the kitten.
It turns out you can rent Have-a-heart traps by the day, so an outright purchase was unnecessary. As an afterthought, I asked if they had any fishing tackle items in the place. When I explained that what I was looking for was a fish net, the lady apologized that they had nothing like that in stock, but led me to the swimming pool section, where I found a net-style pool skimmer that looked just about kitten-sized. I departed the store with trap and net in hand, and broke a couple of speed limits heading back to work.
During my absence, the kitten had made the mistake of falling asleep next to where Andy had found a comfortable place to sit. He made the capture without any fuss, and was waiting there for me with Kitten in a cardboard box big enough to house a small beagle.
Now that I had the kitten, the question of what to actually do with it reared its ugly head. In cases where the animal’s history is not known, a bite from a domestic animal leaves a veterinarian with few choices. In Pennsylvania I have the option of putting the kitten through a ten-day quarantine period or submitting it immediately for rabies testing. Submitting it for rabies testing requires that the kitten’s head be sent to Harrisburg. The rest of the kitten is not invited along for the ride.
OK, this is an apparently healthy teeny little black and white kitten, whose mew is as loud as it is pathetic and whose green eyes have perfected that pleading look that all cats adopt as a way of twisting their owners around their little dew claws. I’m sending this cat’s head to Harrisburg? Yeah. Right. Sure.
So half-an-hour later I was still on the phone, making arrangements with my company and with my veterinarian to put this kitten through quarantine for ten days. I needed my company’s approval for this. Management would have been within their rights to demand that the kitten be submitted for immediate rabies testing. Fortunately, the kitten looks 100% healthy (if it were infectious with rabies, it should have been showing some rabies signs) and neither management nor Andy wanted an otherwise healthy kitten put down just because it had the misfortune of getting caught in one of our rat traps.
Which led me to my next problem. This kitten was in one of our rat traps – traps that are loaded with rat bait. Loaded, might I add, with poisonous rat bait. I started putting out calls to find out what we baited our rat traps with. I had no idea if the kitten had actually eaten any of the bait or not, but since the kitten was hungry (it made short work of a little mashed roast beef in my office while I was making my phone calls) I assumed the worst.
I made preliminary calls to my vet, who informed me that they were indeed set up to handle this type of situation. I told them that once I had final approval from the company I’d head over with my wee charge (ironic, that “wee charge”, but we’ll get to that shortly). And I did get approval soon thereafter, with the caveat that the company didn’t want to spend too much on this. Fine with me. They agreed to try and save the kitten, so save the kitten we would.
I took the mewing fuzzball (such a set of lungs you’ve never heard) in the Havahart trap, which was the closest approximation I had to a pet carrier. I wrapped the trap in one of my white coats, which seemed to make the fuzzball somewhat happier. The trip there was uneventful. Except for the unsurprising findings of fleas, ear mites, and probable worms, the kitten came out looking pretty good on examination. She (and yes, by now we had ascertained she was a she) even had a pretty good purr, when she settled down enough to use it.
Then came the moment of truth. I asked for an estimate. Total for the emergency visit, laboratory services I’d ordered, medications for the mites and possible rat poisoning, and ten days of “board” during the quarantine came to $592.50.
I’m nobody’s fool. There was no way my company was going to be willing to spend nearly six hundred dollars on a kitten. So I asked the vet to break it out into two bills. One bill was for the hospitalization and board, the other bill was for the emergency exam, lab tests, and meds. I submitted the bill for board ($230) to my company when I returned. I’ll pay for the rest with my profit sharing check, which I get at the end of the month, just about the same time that I should be getting the veterinary bill.
Looks like I bought myself a kitten for my birthday. Now all I need to do is get it adopted out before I have to bring it home, or The Socialist will kill me.