Saturday, April 24, 2010

Humor in my Life---Part 12---Kitty Caper

Oh, the stories I could tell about my time working as a social worker! While many of them had mixed outcomes, they were filled with all-too-human examples of sadness and humor. I'll try to keep the focus on the lighter side of life, though it is often mixed with shades of darkness. Such was the case with a woman who I'll call Bertha.

Bertha was ninety-four years-old. She'd lived a rich life doing unusual work for a woman where she was employed as a lineman. She worked right up until she was eighty. Then she spent five years in retirement until she lost her husband of sixty-two years. It had been a happy life, but things began to disintegrate after that. She was not only going through her grief. She was beginning to become demented.

Bertha and her husband, Hank, loved cats. They loved them so much that they had eight of them. After Hank passed away, Bertha collected a few more. The only problem was that she had forgotten that cats needed to be neutered if they weren't going to multiply like rabbits. Such would become the case with Bertha's cats before the time that I came to know her. By that time, her ramshackle house, filled with a lifetime of possessions and five years of cobwebs, had also become filled with thirty-five cats!

Poor Bertha! Those cats managed to destroy all of her upholstery and Bertha couldn't remember to keep up with cleaning the cat boxes. There was cat poop and urine all over the place! There were also mummies of dead cats wrapped up in newspaper, placed lovingly in her kitchen cabinets. Perhaps she had placed them there prior to intended burials. Unfortunately, she had forgotten to attend to that detail.

Also, unfortunately for Bertha, something had to be done about the cat problem. Her neighbors were complaining about the reek coming from within her house. It was also apparent that she couldn't cope with the kitties, though she didn't have a clue. She thought everything was just fine.

That wasn't the case for me. To enter her house, any sane person would have worn a gas mask. Playing the role of social worker, I was mandated to view the interior of my clients' homes. I was also mandated to carry out the role of protecting the public safety. Those cats had to go!

I called the friendly and helpful SPCA cruelty investigator with whom I had become well-acquainted. It was time for another kitty caper.

Betsy arrived with her van, filled with cat carriers and her snare. Cats would become feral when they were being attempted to be caught. Under conditions such as this, one would also never know whether or not the cats were vaccinated. It would be no laughing matter to be scratched or bitten by a cat that might have rabies!

Betsy and I had to hunt down kitties that hunkered down inside sleeping sofas, under beds, and inside kitchen cabinets. They would dash around the house in a frenzy when they were cornered. It was no laughing matter!

We managed to capture most of them. Who would know what their fate would be? Fortunately, for some of the cats, they managed to escape into the fields surrounding the house as we struggled to get them into the kitty carriers. They would remain free or possibly find neighbors who would adopt them. The next day it was as if it had never happened. Bertha didn't remember that she'd been the caretaker for ten households of cats. Sad, but true. Perhaps this tale is not such a funny one. Better luck next time!

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