Ordinarily I get my sister to catsit when I'm out of town, but a full week after booking the holiday I realised that since my sister would be coming out of town with us, this wouldn't be practical. (In the event she didn't come with us because she was sick, but that didn't change the unavailable-for-catsitting status.) So I booked a cattery.
It was a very quick process, involving basically a telephone conversation. I was fluttery at the absence of formalities because I was expecting them to require a deposit if nothing else, or even to get a copy of Boots' vaccinations before the fact. But they were unconcerned so I figured I was just anxious at leaving Boots in a cattery for a week and a half knowing that last time I had to take her away from home during earthquake repairs she hid under the motel bed for three days, and so she was going to hate a cattery.
Now one reason I chose this place was she offered pickups and dropoffs, which is helpful since the bus website suggests they don't carry pets. So at the appointed time on the evening before leaving on holiday at oh-dark-thirty I awaited her arrival. And waited. And waited. Trying to keep Boots inside and yet not stressed all the time. So I phoned and apparently she'd forgotten. Illness or something; okay, there's a lot of nasty stuff going around here at the moment.
So it's fine, she rearranges her evening and turns up with her daughter in the backseat, and I hand over Boots and her food and medicines (both her regular food/medicines and her post-minor-dental-surgery food/medicines, along with an instructional schedule) and so forth and am all helicopter parent while the cattery woman is all "I've got this". We confirm the date and time she'll drop Boots off post-holiday. She gives me her card and asks me to drop her an email so she can send me some photos to prove Boots is enjoying her stay.
I sent her the email, mentioning my email access would be intermittent. Two-thirds of the way through the holiday (which was otherwise lovely, I may or may not blog about it separately) I realised she never so much as acknowledged the email.
So late last night I got home (and dreamed of cats and medicines), and this morning at the appointed time I expect my cat to be returned to me. Yet the appointed time passes with no Boots. Still no Boots. So I ring again, and get voice mail on both landline and cellphone. I continue ringing and leaving messages throughout the day. At 4pm I'm literally putting on my coat to get the bus and find out what the hell's going on when I finally get through to her.
"Oh yeah," quoth she vaguely. "I wasn't sure whether it was today or tomorrow. I think I was expecting a phone call."
Nope. A) I was always clear about the date. If she wasn't, she should have written it down when she specifically told me she was diarying it. Or emailed, at any point. Or phoned, ditto. B) We specifically agreed that Boots would be dropped off at this particular time. C) If you're expecting a phone call maybe you should actually answer one of your phones.
So anyway, we agreed a new time. Then followed two more calls to determine which cat carrier is Boots's. I-- I would have expected her to have been keeping track of other people's property herself?
Apparently not. Because when (with both daughters in the back seat) she drops Boots and supplies off (and a new excuse: she was being audited today so busy all morning) I discover upon unpacking (after she's driven away) that I am further missing not only Boots's food dish but also the collar from around her neck with the magnetic nametag that lets her get in and out of the house.
I've taped the magnetic cat flap open, and found a substitute food dish, and left a polite message on the answerphone saying no rush (because those kids do not need to keep getting dragged around) and just leave them in my mailbox if I'm not home (because I'd actually just as soon not talk to her again); and not saying that I'm not yet feeling any great rush to pay my bill either (those magnetic tags are not cheap).
Online reviews for this place are all positive. Probably most people wouldn't run into these problems as they'd pick up and drop off themselves, so no waiting around and they could point out the cat carrier, missing collar, and food dish at the same time, sans drama. But, wow. This is one business card I'm keeping in my stack just so I can scrawl never again all over it.
(But Boots is now home! And exploring everything. Yes, Boots, eat the business card with the dollar figure and bank account number on it so I can legitimately say "My cat ate the bill," that would be awesome. No? What if I accidentally spill deliciousness on it? Aw, fine.)
- In which she finds out which cattery not to book next time she goes on holiday