Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Cat Butlers

This story in the Florida Times-Union about "cat butlers" at the Jacksonville Humane Society was heart-warming, but it also made me wonder about the cats who find themselves at the city's Animal Care & Control instead. That's not a no-kill shelter, and the cats have a much grimmer potential fate there. Do they have anyone who loves and socializes them to improve their chances of adoption? If I had the time and lived closer to the shelter, I'd love to start a similar program there. Anybody in the Riverside, San Marco or Downtown areas of town so inclined?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

It's Always Something, Part II...

Found out Saturday morning that there's a problem with processing payments on the website. How'd I find out? There were a few incomplete orders showing on my site. A call to the hosting company's helpline yielded no useful information. ("People just abandon their shopping carts sometimes; there's no way to know why.") Yes, but EVERY time? When I tried to buy something myself, that brought the answer. Naturally, it came after all the financial types had knocked off for the weekend.

Which brings to mind something: In this information age, if you're selling a product to people that will be used 24/7, does it not make sense to have customer service available 24/7 for when it doesn't work? Is there a place in today's gotta-have-it-now world for "banker's hours"? Whatever the case, it'll be Monday morning before anyone is available to address my issue.

I blame myself, mainly, for this; after all, I was the one who set up the gateway. And I should've tested it before rolling out any publicity for the site. But it seems that there should be someone to help new customers set up a gateway so that it functions properly and doesn't reject all the transactions that come its way. While independence is a fine thing, sometimes people just need a little help, and not in the way of a monstrosity of an online help file that's difficult to navigate when all the language is foreign to a newbie. Sometimes, a personal touch and a little hand-holding are in order. In absence of that, a blog on which to vent must substitute!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine Special

Valentine's Day has never been my favorite holiday, and 2009 made it even less so. I spent that at the emergency vet clinic with our darling little Frankie, shown here, who was breathing very shallowly and seemed to be swollen through his chest area.

As it turned out, Frankie was in the final stage of FIP. Not knowing his history, the doctors at the emergency clinic didn't pick up on that. They drained the fluid from his chest, which had consumed about 75% of his chest cavity, to relieve his breathing a little, and kept him overnight until he was stable. He came home that Sunday afternoon, but had to go into the hospital at his usual vet on Monday morning. He never came home again, passing away in the night of the following Sunday.

In memory of Frankie, I'm offering a 10% discount on all items purchased at Old Maid Cat Lady from February 14-21, the anniversary of Frankie's last week in this life. To get the discount, when you're checking out you should enter the code FRANKIE210. (This only applies to items purchased through OMCL's shopping cart, as I'm unable to discount items sold by affiliated retailers.)

To finish the story -- We buried little Frankie in our side yard, and a statue of St. Francis now watches over him. The staff at our vet had written little notes all over the box in which they placed his body and taped flowers to it, as they'd grown to love him almost as much as we did during his final week with them. The notes from each of them in the sympathy card they gave me sounded like they had really gotten to know his sweet personality during his stay there. My mother missed him every day until her own death. I continue to miss them both, but am hoping that they are reunited in spirit now.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Cold Weather Cats

This spate of cold weather we've experienced this winter reminds me of another winter, many years ago. I was sitting in my third-floor apartment one chilly evening when I heard the loudest meowing coming from outside my front door! Stepping outside, I saw a large black tomcat, very thin, and also very friendly. He appeared to be hungry, so I went inside and got him some of crunchies out of my cats' bag, for which he was extremely grateful. Cats are always very polite like this, in my experience.

Having two cats already, I certainly couldn't take him in, especially with his being an unneutered male. I could only imagine the spraying that would take place when he encountered my neutered male. Pee-yew! But when the weather report said that temps would be dipping below freezing that night, what was I to do? I couldn't let him freeze with no warm place to sleep.

Fortunately, I'd recently bought something in a box of which the top had been cut around three sides instead of across the middle. That made it like a sort of flap covering the open side of the box. Taking that outside, I added an old wool blanket that had been a hand-me-down I never used. I turned it with the back of the box toward the north wind and the flapped opening toward my front door. The cat was nowhere to be found when I set it outside, and I hoped he'd be back to find it, and understand that he could get inside if he lifted the flap.

My next-door neighbor's door was right next to mine, so I worried about leaving an unsightly cardboard box in front of my door. The next morning, as I started to pick up the box and move it over to the section of walkway by the sliding glass door off my den, it was heavier...and moving! Out came the black cat, who I'd decided to call "Clarence," and he was hungry again. I gave him some more food, and some water, and made sure he knew where I was moving his box. We had a little stretch of freezing temps that winter, and he slept in that box every night. Once the weather was warmer, I tossed the box and washed the blanket for another cold night.

But that wasn't the end to Clarence's story. I didn't see him again for a long time. But the following summer, I heard loud meowing outside my door one evening. It sounded familiar. Sure enough, it was Clarence! This time he was wearing a collar and appeared to be well fed. I offered him some food, but he wasn't interested in it. He'd just come back to thank me for saving his life in the cold winter, and to let me know that he'd found a home and was okay now. As I said, cats are very polite creatures. I never saw Clarence again, but think of him every time the temperatures dip below freezing in winter.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Store is Open!

Just took the website live Monday evening, and have already had a couple dozen visitors to the site. Although I've worked for the past six weeks (!) on building the site, it only has a minimal number of products. In addition to the fact that I'm still lining up suppliers for the vast array of types of products I want to feature, it turns out that establishing all the site elements and then adding products with all their individual elements takes quite a lot of tedious, time-consuming work.

But it's finally LIVE! Stop by for a visit and let me know how you like the overall feel of it. Does it make you smile? Can you find your way around it okay? There are also mini-surveys sprinkled throughout the site, so take a moment and let me know your thoughts. I want it to be everything you'd like, featuring all the cat products you already know about, plus a few that will surprise you. How am I doing so far? Are there things you'd like to see that aren't there yet? Do you know of any suppliers for cat-related products who can drop-ship them to customers for me? Are you a supplier of cat products who can do that? If so, get in touch with me!

The past year has been a tough one, and this new store represents my first steps in the new direction my life is about to take. So it's important to me. If Old Maid Cat Lady could become an important part of your life, that would be just the best thing ever!