I’m So Lucky
At least once a day someone will tell me how lucky I am to get to work with big cats. I’m writing this at 9:30 PM in a restaurant because if I were at home there would be too many interruptions to write. It’s late because it’s ALWAYS this late before I get fed. I eat out because I am too easily called away from the stove and there’s not a room in my house that I don’t have to fight a Bobcat, Caracal, Cougar or Fishing Cat for my food.
When I get home I’ll check on the youngsters, the sick, the injured and the recovering before showering. Taking a bath in a room that’s always temporary quarters for some big cat, is, in and of itself, a challenge.
I’ll work at the computer until midnight because these are the precious few hours I’m not bombarded by employees, volunteers, guests and a couple dozen people calling long distance to “talk cats”. When I can’t focus on the screen any more, I’ll shake the kitty litter out of my sheets, find a pillow the Bobcat hasn’t been eating his raw chicken on and turn off the lights.
Cats, being the nocturnal beasts they are, will now come to life. The rest of the night he’ll be jumping from the cat tree to the bed and back like a 20 pound ping pong ball. He gets extra points for landing on my face. Every toy and any left over dinner he has will end up on the bed before dawn. Fetch is his favourite game and he’s learned that if “mom’s” too tired to throw jingle bell mouse, she’s never too tired to throw the gizzards he drops on my face.
Eventually day break will send him off to sweet dreams, but now the pager’s buzzing, the phones are ringing, the faxes are spitting papers all over the floor, someone’s pounding on my bedroom door wanting to know if I’ve seen so and so and another glorious day is begun.
A typical day consists of a never ending parade of people through my home. All the visitors want to meet the person responsible for this “wonderful establishment”. All the employees want to complain about the volunteers being lazy and all the volunteers want to tell me how they’d run things. Through it all, I’m filing an endless sea of paperwork and warding off lawsuits from every dead beat who thought a cat bite would make a great retirement. I try to actually get a little business done as well.
I always awake with the intent of eating breakfast, but I’ll be putting out fires until 1:00 or 2:00 PM. My body will signal that it’s going to crash if I don’t drop everything and refuel. I usually eat lunch while I’m driving to the court house, the feed store or the Vet’s office. The greatest day of my life was the day my daughter was able to drive herself.
I’ll come racing home just in time to start preparing the cat’s evening meal. Even with six of us working at it, this is still a two hour ordeal. While normal people have had dinner and are settling down in front of the T.V. for the evening, I am up to my elbows in dead animal parts that are so cold I lose all feeling in my hands within a few minutes after the burning sensation ceases. While the cats are happily munching away it’s a good time to treat wounds, give vaccines and treat for fleas. When I’m out of light, I’ll quit taking care of the cats for the day.
Filthy, smelly and exhausted I ignore the strange looks from the people I encounter in the diner and slump down at this table and reflect over how lucky I am.
Carole Lewis circa 1998
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