As an office manager for an orthodontist, I spend a lot of time scheduling appointments. There are things I’d love to say, but generally don’t. For one thing, we schedule in 15-minute blocks, so someone arriving 10 minutes late can throw off our entire schedule. If someone arrives too early, they probably arrived during someone else’s appointment time and will have to wait.
Meanwhile, we do our very best to accommodate everyone’s calendars, emergency visits, and occasional oddities like 3-hour power outages and randomly blocked traffic routes. In all cases, we ask that everyone be patient (pun intended). We are more than just a doctor and staff, and we like to go home at the planned end of our day. Just like everyone else, we enjoy our time off.
Cats could not care less about any of this – not my cats, and most certainly not Tabby’s Place cats because all of their time is off. Also, have you noticed how there’s a recurring theme in Felis Catus of “This very human thing, but cats not at all?” There’s a reason. Cats.
Cats have the wisdom of the ages and pass it along through their DNA. Every human has to figure out everything from the start, relying on other humans to guide and instruct through explanation and demonstration. Nothing is pre-programmed…not really.
We can be clumsy.
We can be slow to learn.
We can be obstinate.
Those last three statements can also apply to cats. However, in terms of learning, they are as elegant and refined as we like to imagine they are in every other way. But, then, one of them fails to land a jump, and we are reminded that it is okay to be clumsy, it is okay to take time to learn, and, it is okay to be a little bit obstinate. Most importantly, it’s important to try again.
But, getting back to that being obstinate thing: it can be good.
Being a little bit obstinate helps us protect ourselves and our boundaries.
Grecca, for example, is mercurial. She’s also a little bit obstinate, especially when it comes to dinner selections. Plus, she has an excellent (okay, maybe slightly overdeveloped) set of boundaries…also especially when it comes to dinner selections. If it’s on the desk, that’s Grecca territory. No one else allowed.
Meanwhile, over in the Community Room, S’mores obstinately preserves his own boundaries. If another cat gets too much in his face, sweet S’mores shows a sterner side. I like to think of that as his graham cracker crust. Ultimately, though, it’s the marshmallowy-chocolatey goo that really defines S’mores (all sweet and delicious).
What Grecca and S’mores have in common is determination. Also, they like their schedule – that is to say, their feeding schedule. All of the cats do. This is evident when yours truly – or anybody else – walks into a suite when dinner is due to be delivered. Cats swarm toward the door. Tails swoosh in anticipation. Sometimes, there’s drool.
No dinner? Disappointment. You can practically hear the sharp intake of breath, “WHAT?!? Where is the FOOOOOOOD, peasant?” Sorry cats, not everybody is on the schedule to feed you dinner.
It’s not just dinner, either. Feeding time at Tabby’s Place is organized chaos (don’t you just love an oxymoron?). Enough volunteers are needed to ensure the cats in the bulk of the suites and offices are appropriately apportioned their meals. Sufficient staff is required to ensure certain areas, such as the medical suite, are duly served. Can tabs are pulled, packets of probiotic are ripped open, vitamins or fiber are mixed in, paper boats are labeled, trays are filled, and the delivery dance begins.
It’s anything but fine tuned. Feeders have lives that sometimes interfere with their ability to come in for a shift. Foul weather makes travel treacherous and slows down the entire operation. Even the best planning and coordination (Believe me, Tabby’s Place has the best of the best!) isn’t enough to counter the havoc that mother nature can wreak. Cats are equally good at adding to any disarray with untimely entanglements, unfortunate regurgitations, unseemly excretion, and more.
Sometimes the system will appear to be on the verge of collapsing.
It never does.
Entropy is always kept at bay.
Chaos can never reign.
It always gets down to scheduling. Someone is out? Someone is called in. Something has happened? Someone is called to action. It doesn’t matter what, who, when, why, or where. At Tabby’s Place, there is always some way to adjust the schedule – feeding, dishes, laundry, and so forth – to ensure that no matter what, through any storm, the operation will run smoothly. Most importantly, every tummy will be filled, even if it takes a few tries.