Friday, June 22, 2007

An Absurd Rant, but I Gotta Get it Out

It used to be that I let people walk all over me. Some may say that’s still true, but I’m trying to do better. The problem is that instead of just always having an assertive, confident attitude, I initially believe people’s opinions/criticisms/complaints of me. If I start to believe they are wrong and then they continue to opine/criticize/complain, it drives me to madness and then I explode at them. Not really a good way to function, but I come by it honestly and I'm trying to improve.

I bet you’re wondering what brought this on. If you aren’t and don’t really care, move along. If you aren't up for more adventures of crazy cat ladies, likewise move on. If you have nothing better to do, please proceed.

When I left Tampa and had to tell one of my crazy cat friends I was leaving, she took it upon herself to keep an eye on my dumpster kitties while I was gone. I didn’t ask her to because I find Dean to be more than capable of feeding a bunch of stray cats once a day. I knew that Dean wouldn't be able to do Spay Days, but I knew he'd alert me if there were sick kitties or a new batch of kittens. At that point I'd decide whether or not to involve one of my cat friends. Anyway, the aforementioned friend became quite upset one day when she was "keeping an eye" on my kitties, and found a sick kitten. First, Dean had told me there were new kittens. He's had enough experience to tell roughly how old they were, and when he told me they were about 10-12 weeks, I knew it would be difficult to find an organization to take them and socialize them. If I involved anyone they would likely ask Dean to foster them- something he's not willing to do without me there to guide him and I respect that. After weighing the circumstances in my head, I decided that I'd have to swallow my lumps, feed the extra cats and have them fixed as soon as possible. Granted if I were home things may have been different, but I can't pass up my intership to stay in Florida and feed feral cats. So cat friend rescued the kitten and brought him to the vet. He is now recovering nicely from conjuctivitis and a respiratory infection and all the time at the vet has socialized him enough that he can be someone's house kitty. Any takers?

Anway, so that was the first incident. I don't blame her for rescuing the sick kitten, but I was a little irked that she has been hanging around my kitties just because I'm not there. I was further irked when she asked me to help pay for said sick kitten. I'm not sure what the etiquette is on that.

The utter lunacy started when Dean was about to come up here for his visit. I had asked the friend if she could feed my colony while Dean was away because while runnergirl was feeding my housecats on a semi-daily basis, the colony required daily feeding. She said that she was too busy. Fine. So I asked another crazy cat friend (friend #2 in this saga) to do it. After she agreed, friend #1 had a change of heart and said she wanted to do it. I said I had already found someone. So she insisted on feeding evenings while friend #2 did mornings. I told her it really wasn't necessary, knowing she would likely do it anyway. Now, when I was still in Tampa I always fed in the evenings becuase it was convenient for me. So if friend #1 was ever in the neighborhood and stopped by, she likely always saw cat food back there. But I don't know for sure how often, if ever, she checked on my kitties. It has since become absolutely clear to me that she has been checking on them since I've been away because she doesn't trust Dean. And since Dean feeds in the mornings, which is more convenient for him, if she stops by in the evenings there is no food. And that has made her completely apeshit. I had a feeling she was feeding in the evenings, but didn't say anything about it. While I was a little irritated that she doesn't trust Dean and thinks she needs to supplement my colony's food I have also realized that she will do what she thinks is sufficient no matter my opinions and my instructions for Dean.

The situation was making me mildly tense but not unbearably so until last week. She sent me a frantic email about how busy she is and could Dean please help her out by feeding the kitties in the evenings as well. I'm not sure if it was the implication that Dean was so deficient that he should now become her assisstant or the fact that Dean didn't do anything any differently than I so she basically gave me a back door insult, but it was probably a combination of the two that caused me to deliberately type out one of the iciest emails I've ever written. I feel really badly for having to do it, but this needed to stop. The comments implying that Dean wasn't doing a good enough job, the asking for money for hurt cats, the obvious resentment for leaving my cats for three months- I just couldn't take it anymore.

The worst part about this whole situation is that it hurts everybody. It hurts her that I had to go ballistic on her and tell her to back the hell off. I love that she cares for the kitties, that there is someone on my side and someone I can go to for help. But it has been outweighed by the fact that that same someone is makeing me feel totally shitty about the job Dean and I are doing back there. How is it that I can pour time, money, and emotions into these cats but I feel like the scum of the Earth for having to put my foot down? I basically had to say, "no, I will not tell Dean to feed the cats more frequently because I don't think they need it." I feel like a total bitch. On the one hand I feel like I'm depriving my kitties but on the other, I feel like if I did what she said I'd have been manipulated and under her control. Isn't it enough that my wonderful husband goes back there and feeds them 3(!) pounds of cat food and gives them fresh water and takes attendence? I could do ask him to do more, but then what would come next?

To contrast this behavior, friend #2 sent me an email yesterday asking my permission for her to "renovate" my colony area. She took the day off of work to do improvements on her own colony and thought mine could use it too. I was touched and not insulted because she nicely asked if she could do this for me. She added that she was doing this solely because I was a "special person" to care for the kitties. I know there are better people out there- people willing to take on more, to do the things friend #2 does, but I let myself be flattered at a time when I desperately needed it. She also offered to do a Spay Day for me in August because she knew the kitten situation was stressing me out. The PetSMART fairy will be leaving her a generous gift.

I didn't hear from friend #1 again until tonight. I suspected that despite my tyrade she would still continue feeding my kitties at night. I honstly couldn't care less. I'm sorry if that makes me a bad cat caregiver, but I think I explained my reasons. She called and left a message about how wonderful it looked, how friend #2 did such a great job and since there were new bowls back there, could Dean please not "ruin it" by putting the cat food on the ground. This is another issue I have with her- her insistence that I use petfood bowls back there. My arguments are (1) if I use a cardboard or foil type bowls they get blown or pushed down into the woods and cause garbage to accumulate, thus annoying management (2) if I use nice ceramic bowls homeless people steal them and I'm out good money and (3) they are strays and are used to eating off the ground and in all sorts of conditions we don't want to consider. Anyway, the "Dean ruining it" comment was what started my monster rant. I'm so mad that I'm letting this get to me. I'm upset about the fact that rather than appreciating the time and money we put into this she has to be overly critical and well, a bitch about it.

That's the end of my rant. Please feel free to give me feedback if you are so inclined. I have always thought that if heaven exists, there ought to be a special place for people that care for feral cats because it is a thankless job. Now, I'm ammending that to: There ought to be a special place for those that listen to their crazy rants.


lefty_grrrl said...

I hate when people are passive-aggressive. Next time, nip this in the bud before you get all worked up. Man, I want to smack this lady for you.

magnetbabe said...

Next time, nip this in the bud before you get all worked up.

This seems to always be my problem. I give the nutty people the benefit of the doubt until things get ugly. Could you please give me some of your feistiness? I could use it.

Jackie said...

Oh my.

I hate it when you ask someone for a favor, or they offer to help, and then they take the situation and make it theirs. I mean, if this was her coloney to start with, then yes, I could understand the demands, however, since she is looking after YOUR cats, shouldn't she just be happily doing what YOU ask her to do? And if she can't do that, then BACK THE HELL OFF! (or use which ever words you prefer).

I think your rant is completley warented, and I don't think it would be wrong of you to tell her, "Thanks for your help, but there are now too many people involved with the cats, and could you please step back a little (or a lot, or all the way) and let Dean handle it from here on out"


Runner Girl FL said...

Isn't it friend #1 who can't be bothered to pick up stuff that was left outside your door so I had to take it back in? And the whole I can't do it...ok I can! She also didn't trust you to give you back fixed kitties at first. She is just weird and controlling!! Don't burn your bridges but I wouldn't worry about her.

As long as you think she's weird and excessive you aren't a crazy cat lady...I think. ;)

magnetbabe said...

What I told her was to trust Dean a little bit more and spend her time worrying over her kitties. I don't want to tell her to step back all the way because she will likely throw in my face the kitten she rescued. I'm grateful she's helping the little guy, but it's a tricky situation.


She also didn't trust you to give you back fixed kitties at first.

That was friend #2. And in retrospect I don't think that was a trust thing. I think she genuinely wants to help.

As far as burning bridges, I'm worried I'm dangerously close. But at the end of the day she would do anything for anybody's kitties and if I needed her help she'd do it.

lefty_grrrl said...

I'll get some rubber bracelets made, with WWLGD printed on them. Would that help you? Or maybe you'll just think of that the next time you feel uncomfortable with a situation and you'll make your voice heard first. As soon as your toes feel stepped on, as soon as your gut doesn't sit right, put words to feelings and present them to the included parties in a respectful way. You'll gain a lot of respect from the healthy people and a lot of breathing room from the crazies who will think that YOU are crazy.

And, if she questions Dean's methods/commitment again, remind her that he is your husband and that you trust him and that she needs to either just step in and do something to help or fix whatever it is that she doesn't like, or keep her yap shut. Those are her options.

Just be nice about it. I have this sweet and professional voice that I use when I'm angry with people and man, do I get my way a lot when I use that voice. I say the exact same words, just in a really nice way, and all of a sudden, people are doing what I want.

mom said...

let's not forget that you and dean are doing a "GOOD THING" and not something you should feel guilty about or have to give a second thought about, shame on her.

fermicat said...

I would be irked at friend #1 also. I don't know what the right thing to do is. I understand you want the best for the kitties and that is the bottom line. Tough call. She shouldn't be down on Dean, though. That just ain't right. She seems to be the type that thinks if you don't do something exactly the way she would do it, then you are doing it wrong. I hate it when people are that way.

magnetbabe said...

Haha! Love the bracelet idea. I will remember it whenever I think I should say something. That doesn't mean I always will though. The other issue is the toll it takes on my nerves to be so assertive. I'm sort of a mess that way. It has taken years of practice to begin to undo my "Minnesota nice" upbringing. I'm already better than I was five years ago!

Thanks. I didn't expect to see you comment after you've been hearing about this for a week now. Ack.

Yes, it is all about what's best for the kitties. My first instinct was to just tell her to leave us all alone. But if she's feeding, it's ridiculous for me to stop her, I'd be taking food from my cats regardless of if they need it or not. Their happiness is more important than spite. I could give you countless stories of the "my way is the only acceptable way to do things" mentality but I'm not here to bash her, just to express my own frustrations. It has taken two years of feeding feral cats to conclude that "her way" is overkill.

Runner Girl FL said...

Opps wrong crazy lady. hehehe :)

mr. schprock said...

I think Dean should teach the kitties how to provide for themselves, then everything becomes a non-issue. You know the old saying: "Give a cat a bowl of Meow Mix, you've fed him for one day; teach a cat how to plow, irrigate, fertilize and seed, and you've fed him for life."

MyUtopia said...

Learning the lesson of assertiveness and not always believing everything people say about you is one that is very long to achieve!

Toni Anderson said...

I think you and Dean are doing a wonderful job. I don't care for anything outside the kids, dogs, fish, trees and plants on our proerty and that just about drives me to the edge of exhaustion. looking out for the feral cats and trying to control the population is a wonderful thing. Your friend sounds like a bit of a crazy. Let her go gently and firmly :)

magnetbabe said...

mr s-
Due to the whole lack of opposable thumb issue, teaching the kitties to grow their own food is a bit of a challenge. The fertilizing part is about all they're capable of. They do that well. Thanks for the imagery though! LOL

If you have managed this, I commend you! I apparently have quite a ways to go...

Thanks for the compliment. To be modest, we don't really have property (in an apartment) so it's really not very time consuming. Just a daily commitment and sometimes a pain in the neck (that's the people though, not really the kitties *wink*).

mother-in-law said...

Remember the squirt gun we used to chase away the cats that were already spayed when we were trapping? Maybe you need me down there with a super soaker to use on butt-in-ski crazy cat lady

Scott said...

I was wondering what Mr. Schprock would say about it, and he didn't disappoint. I think your friend is dead wrong to make any issues; you are both helping the cats, and it's true that they don't give two shits if it's in a bowl or on the ground. You both are good people, but she just has people problems.

magnetbabe said...

Good idea! Although in the middle of summer that might not stop anyone- it may actually attract more...

Thanks. The other "bowl vs ground" issue I forgot to mention is that when I feed on the ground, I spread the food out like a trough so that as many kitties can eat as possible. With the bowls, only as many kitties as bowls can eat at once.