Adventures in cat sitting!

I’m not a cat person. I mean, I can appreciate a cat for a few minutes at a time, but I would never want to own one, and only reluctantly would I ever agree to take primary care of one for five days.

So it was with reluctance that I agreed to take care of my friends’ cat, Panthro, for five days while they were abroad. He’s a two-year-old domestic long-hair tabby. My friends explained his diarrhea problem, his medicine, his food, his litter, his toys, his furniture scratching, his anti-scratching water pistol, and his grooming. I set up camp in their apartment and bid them bon voyage.

The first few days went really well. Panthro and I totally hit it off. I discovered that he would actually play fetch with one of his toys for HOURS, which was pretty cool. He would also hang out on the couch with me while I worked on my laptop. He was also pretty happy playing with my feet under the coffee table. I introduced him to the concept of an empty grocery bag, and I think we bonded over that.

I awoke on day four, however, to a bit of a problem. Several small tightly coiled piles of problem, in fact. I found Panthro hiding in the corner looking apologetic. After telling him that I thought we were Bros now and Bros don’t make Bros clean up their poop, I cleaned up the poop. While cleaning, I noticed Panthro getting into his litter box and raising his tail. I sat and watched him for several minutes. I wondered if this was normal.

I pulled out my day’s work and got started. Panthro didn’t hang out with me at first, but I eventually heard him meowing in the other room. I went to check on him, and he was curled up on the floor, looking up at me and meowing mournfully. I tried to pet him, but he hissed and spat at me. All the comics and sitcoms say that cats are temperamental and capricious, so I figured he was just having his period and I backed off. He continued wandering around the apartment very slowly and meowing plaintively. I wondered if this was normal.

I went back to work, watching Panthro out of the corner of my eye. A few minutes later, I saw him puke on the dining room floor. If Get Fuzzy has taught me anything, I thought, it’s that cats LOVE to puke for no reason. But then the little homunculus popped up on my other shoulder and shouted that Panthro was clearly trying to tell me something.

So I called up a veterinarian friend who lives out of state. The poor guy probably gets calls like this from friends all the time. He listened to Panthro’s symptoms and calmly told me I should get him to the emergency vet ASAP. I listened in shock as he explained his phone diagnosis and the proper procedure for getting a cat into a carrier without losing an eye.

Panthro didn’t like getting picked up, but he seemed to understand I was his Bro, and I was trying to help. A quick ride to the e-vet, and the diagnosis came in: blocked urinary tract, just as my friend had diagnosed over the phone. If I’d waited much longer, poor Panthro could have had serious long-term damage. He needed medication, a catheter, and two overnight stays at the clinic. He’s fine now.

So I guess there are some lessons to be learned from this. [ul][]Don’t believe what cartoonists tell you about cats. Whatever the cat is doing, it is probably NOT normal. []Don’t let your non-cat-person friend cat sit for you. But if you absolutely must, make sure he’s got a veterinarian friend on speed dial. []Litter boxes are gross. Even when you clean them out every day. []Okay, yes, in retrospect, it was extremely obvious that something was wrong and the critter needed help. But when you’re dealing with a completely unfamiliar species, these things don’t really jump out at you. I’m even a little proud that I jumped into action as soon as I did. The girls at the vet’s office certainly thought I was pretty great. But on the other hand, they were a bunch of future cat ladies and this was on Valentine’s day afternoon. [/ul]

Good for you, Sir!

You did do great! I’ve had cats that have blocked and sometimes it is really hard to pick up on the signs - cats are the master at hiding the symptoms of illness.

I don’t mind scooping the boxes. I do suspect it is a bit like dealing with kids - changing diapers and cleaning up puke when it isn’t your kid is disgusting, but it’s OK when it’s your own. I’d rather clean 100 filthy boxes (my own cats) then change one poopy diaper.

Honestly, as a non-cat-experienced person, you did very well. Better than some people who have loads of experience with cats. Glad that you and Panthro can still be bros.

Yeah you did great. The best (possibly only) way to tell a cat is sick is if it behaves differently than “normal,” and you need a long relationship with any cat to establish “normal.”

That was very well done

You did great. If you hadn’t been as observant as you were, the long term-effect of urinary blockage isn’t damage, it’s death! I’ve seen far more experienced people take far longer than you did to realize something was really wrong. So good on ya.

I’ll take scooping litter over picking up poop with my hand wrapped in a plastic bag ANY day.

You handled a tough situation very well. Great job!

Thanks for the kind words y’all.

I’m interested if anyone else has any pet-sitting stories.

[sound of a phonograph needle scratching a record]–[the music stops]

That’s about where I would say you’re asking the wrong guy.

How did you handle the vet bill?

Yeah, I’d already agreed before they unloaded that on me. Live and learn, I guess.

The vet acted like she saw this thing all the time: a pet-sitter bringing in a sick pet. Someone in their office contacted Panthro’s owners, who authorized treatment. Technically, I signed the contract, so I’m on the hook for the bills if my friends somehow flake out. But I’m pretty confident I’ll never hear about it.

Seconded! I’ve had cats as pets for ten years or so and I probably wouldn’t have caught on that quickly.

We babysitted these two dogs. They were sisters but had completely opposite personalities. One had a tumor or something so she only had 3 legs. Tri-dog hated to be brushed. When we brought out the brush, she would stumble off and hide. The 4 legger would only eat if we fed her by hand. She would bring a toy, give it to me, and wait for me to hand feed her. This would take hours.

I’m dog sitting. I have been given instructions that if the dog eats the bunny, I have to ensure that there is no evidence left behind for the kids to see.

Tony and I ruined a perfectly good cat when we animal-sat for some friends who were off on their honeymoon. We love all critters, but most of our direct experience at that point was with dogs.

They’d told us they’d leave the food for the various beasts in their household on the counter, and where each one ate. The cat was fed on the washer and dryer so the dogs couldn’t get to her food. Fine and dandy, sounds easy enough!

So we get there and notice that the cat food is labelled as the “geriatric” variety. OK, we didn’t realize we had an old lady on our hands; we’ll be careful with her.

So we put the food down for the dogs, get the cat food set up on the washer, and…nothing. We figured she’d jump up or something, but no, she just sits there staring at us. Then it dawns on us - “geriatric” food. Poor baby, she probably can’t jump up that high anymore! So we pick her up, she eats, we put her back down, and go on our merry way. We repeat this process for a week.

Friends get back, and the next day we get a phone call - Henrietta doesn’t seem to want to eat. Did we notice anything wrong with her? No, we put her food out, helped her up on the washer, she ate just fine, we put her back down, lather, rinse, repeat…

Wait, you did what? Why on earth did she need to be lifted onto the washer - she’s perfectly capable of getting up there herself…Oh, geez, no, the old-cat food was a goof, but we figured she could get by with it for a week…

For the rest of her life, they had to put her up with her food or she wouldn’t eat.


A friend left their golden retriever w/ their SIL for 2 weeks w/ instructions to feed ‘a cup’ of dry food (they left a months’ worth) twice a day. When they picked up said dog, she seemed a little bigger and there was almost no food left. What happened?? The cup the SIL was using to measure was the cup in the bag - the 2 cup measuring cup was in her mind ‘a cup’. Yes, they should have said ‘one cup’ instead. Poor fat Abby didn’t like her food being scaled back after that! (What golden does?)