Charlie Brown the cat and the coffee beans
This post illustrates the varied situations pet sitters can encounter.
One of the strangest calls I ever made to a client's veterinarian was the day I called about Charlie Brown the cat.
Charlie Brown was one of three cats in a lovely home with great owners. I was their regular pet sitter for several years until they moved out of the country. All the cats were unique. One was jet black. One was a tuxedo cat, and then there was Charlie Brown.
You can see a photo of Charlie Brown above. It isn't the greatest photo but was the best one I have to share with all of you.
At the Meet and Greet, Charlie Brown's owner told me that he loved to play a daily game of catch with three coffee beans. She simply tossed the beans towards Charlie Brown and he would deftly catch them in his paws, drop them, and then wait for her to toss them again.
I remember asking her if he ever swallowed a coffee bean and she said no, he wasn't interested in eating them, just catching them. I remember "practicing" with her present to make sure I had this skill down, and I did.
For months, if not years, Charlie Brown and I would play Coffee Bean catch nearly every time I pet sat for these three lovely cats.
One day, however, an "oops" took place. Charlie Brown and I were playing catch and for some reason, he decided to scoop up the coffee bean and before I could even blink, he swallowed it.
He didn't choke or anything, but it was a coffee bean. I was worried about the potency of the caffeine on his little cat heart. I knew when I drank a lot of caffeine, my heart would race, so would the same thing happen to a cat? What would happen if it did?
I quickly grabbed my phone and called his vet office and explained what happened. The doctor told me that yes, Charlie Brown's heart might race and that I should spend some extra time there monitoring him to make sure he was okay. She wasn't super worried, however. I, on the other hand, was worried.
I stayed at the house for an extra while and he seemed fine and then I went back after my other pet sitting visits to check on him one more time that day. He was fine. Thank God.
I, on the other hand, knew that Charlie Brown would not be playing any more coffee bean catch with me. I couldn't take the risk. What if he would swallow more than one bean?
The owners were thankful that I called the vet and that I made an extra visit to make sure he was okay. For me, it was a lesson learned. I think (know) I was much more worried about Charlie Brown than he was, or the vet too.
From that pet visit on, Charlie Brown enjoyed playing with the fishing pole toy, catnip pillows, being brushed and cuddled, and chasing treats.
It is funny how all of us, cats included, each have our own passions. For Charlie Brown, it was coffee beans. I tried tossing the treats to him instead of the coffee beans, but after a few tosses he looked at me like "Hey, these aren't coffee beans!" and he lost interest.
The owners, I believe, continued their games of Coffee bean catch once they got home and to my knowledge, he never swallowed one again with them, but I wasn't going to take the chance. Not only because of the caffeine but what if it got caught in his throat?
I suppose I should have set the boundary before that ever happened, but since his track record was "no beans swallowed" I wasn't worried. There is a first time for everything! From then on I erred on the side of caution.
Dear professional pet sitters - what situations have you encountered? Please e-mail me and let me know: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you all for reading my post!