I used to be nice once.

But then people ask you to take care of their pets, and you've got THIS situation.

I don’t do this type of thing anymore.

But I used to be nice once.

A friend had asked for a favor for their friend’s cousin’s uncle’s neighbor’s coworker’s teacher’s mechanic’s grandson and wondered, would I PLEASE feed their cats while they go on vacation?

I thought how hard can it be? They lived 3 streets away. Sure I could dump some food in a bowl on the way home from work.

Somehow I neglected to imagine that this arrangement would include dealing with the litter box. I understand that what goes in must come out but they asked me to FEED them, not manage what happened after so it hadn’t even crossed my mind. I agreed and we set up a time to meet.

The next night I stopped over to review the details. They gave me a full house tour.

“Here are our two cats!” They motioned at two blurry grey forms as they streaked across the living room and dove under furniture.

“Sweeties, look who’ll be taking care of you when we’re gone!” They cooed.

The cats eyed me suspiciously from underneath a china cabinet. No matter, I am the animal whisperer! I may technically be a “dog person” but cats are cute too. I bent down earnestly to reassure their owners that I would lovingly care for their little darlings when one emitted a loud hiss and nearly shredded my hand.

I tried to pretend bleeding was no big deal and retracted calmly. Their house wasn’t too far from the emergency room after all.

The owners tried to help me save face. “Oh they take a little while to warm up to people, I’m so sorry. But the last person healed up real quick!”

I mentally calculated how much I was earning from the job and figured fine, I can feed them without touching them as long as they don’t outright attack me.

I got this.

The owners took me upstairs to show me the routine.

“This isn’t personal, but we always have a backup plan. We’re keeping the upstairs tub filled with food just in case. We want you to fill the food bowls BUT we have a 20lb bag we emptied here. It’s the same stuff. Our last petsitter thought we didn’t trust her but it wasn’t that, we just like to play it safe. We’re soooo glad you understand!”

They don’t have a mouse problem, I wondered? Um, okay. I guess overfed cats still hunt whatever might be eating from the bathtub trough. Weird, but whatever.

They brought me back downstairs to the kitchen. “Oh and see these two platforms? This is where we give them their treats. They get eight from this bag, and four from the green bag, but ONLY while standing on the platform. It’s very important to keep this up or they will learn to beg.”

Okay. This is getting weirder, but whatever. It’s also turning into a bit longer of an ordeal than just dumping food in a bowl but they are only a few streets away so shouldn’t take up my whole night.

Then they pointed at the water bowl.

“We have water bowls in every room just in case they get thirsty. If you could just clean and refresh each bowl when you feed them, we’d LOVE that.”

Oh man, this is turning into more than a 15-minute stop. It’s not unreasonable to want fresh water but if they were my cats, there would be ONE bowl, and it would be near a sink. I mean, why would you want to hate your life? But that’s their business.

“Okay, last thing. We have two litter boxes, one for each cat.”

(No. Oh no, please no.)

“The thing is, we don’t believe in adding the litter to the landfills. So please dump all the waste down the toilet. You can just slide the boxes down the hall to this bathroom and empty both there.”

I didn’t know what to say.

They continued.

“Now, one of the cats doesn't LIKE the litter box. He usually just goes on the floor. But we keep a bottle of windex and paper towels right here to make it easier to clean.”

I began hatching an escape plan. I was done. When the ratio of care outweighs the endorphin release, it's time to reconsider: is this really worth it? The answer here was NOPE.

“I think that’s about it — did you get everything?”

What? Were you saying something? Look, I checked out 20 minutes ago. I'm just nodding so this hostage situation can end.

"Oh, and can you play with them?"

That's about the only thing I was originally hoping to do, actually, until one of them gave me cat scratch fever.

"Please text us every day with pictures and let us know how they’re doing!”

Luckily, they didn’t notice the noose I was fashioning and I was able to gracefully explain that, so sorry, I won’t be able to do this job after all. Who could pass up the joy of all this at $10/day? It’s unfortunate that my cat allergy suddenly came back. But at least it freed up an opportunity for the next person!