Kitten Invasion And Other Temporary Conditions

These foster kittens will definitely be going back to the shelter in two weeks.

From the newsletter:

On the drive up to the animal shelter, Ian demanded to know where we going and what the big surprise was. Looking at signs on the highway for clues, he kept guessing.

“Are we going to Franklin Lakes?” 

“Yes, Ian. We are going to look at trees and ferns. That’s the big surprise.” 

Angry sound from the backseat of the Subaru. “That’s not a surprise. Where are we really going.” 

“Honest. We’re going to look at ferns, Dad’s favorite thing.” 

Angry sound from the backseat. “Tell me!”

Finally, we pulled onto Shelter Lane. He saw the signs for the Animal Shelter and he guessed, “I know. We’re going to get a cat.” 

“Well, we are NOT going to get ‘A cat.’” 

A couple of minutes later, a purple-haired girl handed us a cat carrier with five kittens. We’re foster parents to five kittens for the next two or three weeks. 

The kittens operate in four gears – eat, poop, sleep, and beat the shit out of one’s siblings. The Kitten Fightfest typically goes on for about an hour. They chase each other around, bite a brother’s tail, leap on a sister from the lofty heights of a chair, and practice their sneak attacks around the sofa. They get exhausted at the same time and snuggle up together near Jonah’s sneaker, which has been sacrificed for the cause. 

Yes, they are adorable, but why now? We have remained pet-free since Jefferson the Cat passed away over 15-years ago. I have maintained a zero pet policy all this time, because I figured that two boys were enough wildlife in my house. Why backslide now? 

It is important to remember that these kitties are TEMPORARY kitties. They will be returned in three weeks with nary a tear from me. I have allowed this temporary chaos in the house, because of Ian. He’s been terribly isolated, since the schools closed down last March. Kittens are a poor substitute for classmates, but that’s all I’ve got right now. 

While the rest of the world is opening up, schools aren’t yet. Ian won’t have full time school until September, I can’t find anything for him to do this summer; camps and pizza parlors do not employ autistic kids who have a 50/50 chance of informing an adult that he’s stupid. The kittens, like our weekend day trips, will distract Ian for a little while. He (and Jonah) (and Steve) (definitely not me) like to sit on the floor and let the kittens run over his legs. 

As we slowly creep to the end of this pandemic, some hope that this chaos will be temporary, while others want to make elements of pandemic-living permanent. 

Although only 35% of workers are working remotely right now, pundits, who are writing their columns from their shore houses, would like remote employment to be permanent or, at least, permanently part time. Some think that teachers should only work four days per week

The business community is not going to let that happen. CEOs want workers at their desks by the end of the year. Remote work has not worked for all, especially for women who had to homeschool their kids, while doing their normal work tasks. Schools are going to open, and workers are going back to the office, because the business community is going to demand it. 

While workers are going to go back, other elements of pandemic living are going last longer: mental health issues, academic deficits in certain communities with lifelong implications for personal earnings, income inequality, unemployment among women, homelessness, and urban decline. I’m a bundle of joy, aren’t I? 

Like our very temporary kittens, pandemic-living must have an end date. I’m thirsty to leave our home-caves and try a new job, visit a new beach, and laugh like idiots with friends at the local pub. Seductive domesticity curled around my feet for 16 months, like Tito the kitten here; it was nice for a while, but we need change. 

In two weeks, five kittens will be returned to the shelter. Well, maybe four. Tito is totally awesome. 

26 thoughts on “Kitten Invasion And Other Temporary Conditions

      1. A friend’s daughter and her best friend adopted sibling pups and one was Tito and one was Martini after their favorite drinks.


  1. “maybe four” Hah. That grin on I’s face is pretty awesome.

    My family continues to angle for a dog, but with the knowledge that I’ll always say no. I am considering the possibility that if spouse is home all the time, that he *might* be able to get a dog, but only if I never ever have to take care of it. I don’t think he can make that commitment.


    1. After the first couple of paragraphs I was planning to ask fellow commenters to place bets on how long it would take them to decide to keep a cat, but after “maybe four” I don’t think it’s necessary.

      I am so glad my partner has a dog, and equally glad that she is not my responsibility and that we have separate homes so sometimes I get a dog-free night and can stretch out my legs. A cat would be easier, but I’m not a cat fan. Kittens are adorable, though.

      So few things have great names; the Tappan Zee Bridge was one of them. They should have found a bridge with a more boring name to rename.

      I wonder how many on-campus meetings (and meetings in large office complexes) will switch to Zoom. On the one hand, I’ve missed chatting with people before and after, and walking across campus. But in winter, or for shorter meetings, a quick Zoom may be just the thing – an intermediate step between a group email chain and an in-person meeting.

      I’m getting up at 7 tomorrow to help staff our in-person, football field graduation. 50% chance of rain, so it’s going to be a big adventure. I hope they don’t cancel. Students were so excited when they announced it would happen.


  2. We had a pet free home for almost 20 years, and we too succumbed to the lure of a pandemic therapy cat (mostly for the mental health of our three children). While we love Catleen Turner, we will also happily go back to a pet free world once she leaves this mortal coil (or our college student take her after graduation). Therapy cats are awesome, more Tito content!


  3. You keep saying “the few” and then “34%” of workers still working from home. One third doesn’t seem like few to me. And it’s not just pundits who want to continue working from home – now that we’ve discovered it’s effective and makes money (the firm where I work – from home since the pandemic – had its highest profit ever in 2020, none of which is attributable to lower real estate costs because of existing leases), most of my coworkers want to continue it. Maybe as a hybrid system: 2 days in the office, 3 at home. Or one week per month in the office.


    1. My sister works as a finance muckety-muck at a non-profit in Westchester Co and crossed the Tappan Zee* every day for work, but she has been informed that they will work from home from now on. She is thrilled.

      Oh, btw, she just texted back to answer my question about her husband the HS teacher. He is fully back in school and has been for a while. That’s in one of the Rockland Co. districts.

      *My family loved Mario Cuomo (his sons, not so much), but we will never call it anything other than the Tappan Zee.


    2. I wonder about business travel as much as I wonder about commercial real estate. So much of it seems like it could be a Zoom.


    3. I think the Manhattan banking/finance world has a culture that is not friendly to working from home that is different from other businesses. Even in my national bank where I work it varies by line of business. I was a hybrid worker (half office half home) though it occasionally included entire weeks working from home before the pandemic due to dog care/my own lack of desire to get out of sweatpants. My team is spread out over all 4 time zones and my boss is in a different state so “face time” is irrelevant. We also don’t video call – since screen sharing is crucial to our work as systems analysts.
      Meanwhile employees in a lot of corporate banking departments only got to work from home occasionally and will most likely be back to pre pandemic routines in September. The same with a lot of operations folks.


  4. This is an interesting summary of working from home at Statistica:

    The bit compares pre and post COVID-19 rates. 5+ days a week went up from 17% to 44% (numbers might be different based on the poll/source and date; the article is from 4/9/21). Never went from 47% to 34%.

    I don’t know how the remote worker will play out in the long run, but I think short-term pandemic evaluations of the work from the employers point of view aren’t going to be the final factor. There are a number of companies that just had to do more of whatever they did (Zoom, potentially, and other tech solutions). They may have seen increases in profitability but might not think those same productivity increases won’t remain as the world opens up and when they have to pivot or make changes to their product.


  5. Speaking of kitties, I was at the zoo this morning with friends and my 8-year-old, and one of the pumas was in a frisky mood. There were some vultures just out reach beyond some netting, but the puma was crouching and stalking them, with tail twitching. It was such recognizable house cat behavior, just on a very large scale.


  6. My mother had a friend who bought a house with a barn. Said barn had “barn cats.” Said friend was allergic to cats, so of course the barn cats would remain in the barn.

    Fast forward a couple of months. The barn cats were sleeping on her pillow.

    We didn’t tame cats–they tamed us:

    Kipling knew cats:

    Or as my father says, “Dogs have owners. Cats have staff.”

    Enjoy them.


    1. Our town has a lot of feral cats, and one year in October/November, just as it was starting to get cold, an all-black cat started visiting our back yard and just staring in our kitchen. Days and days of this.

      Eventually, we cracked and started putting out tuna.

      By the end of the story, we’d homed the kitty with a family we knew, along with a $200 kitty scholarship check from us.


  7. One cat will play with the curtains; two cats will play with each other.
    ~My father-in-law, also a big shot vet.

    This will be such a good thing for Ian.

    Personally, I don’t know how you all raise children without pets. We have so many family stories, jokes, memes around our beloved cats. My adult son drops by regularly see the remaining cat, now on his last life.


    1. We’ve always been a ‘cat’ family.

      Sadly we lost our beloved Lola (a fearsome Bengal who terrorized the neighbourhood) a couple of months before Covid lockdown [run over and left at the side of the road]
      My son was devastated – she’d been part of his life since he was 3.
      And we weren’t quite in the right space to welcome a new kitty into our lives, immediately.
      Then Covid happened.
      And lockdown.
      Which was tough.
      After coming out of the first lockdown – one of the first things I did was look around for the right cat for us.
      It took a little while – but we ended up with two melanistic black Bengals – who look like little black panthers: Mrs Mistoffelees (Misty) and Macavity. They’re sisters, and we didn’t have the heart to separate them, and just choose one. They were just over a year old – so outside the destructive kitten stage – but still plenty of fun for a kid who needed distracting.

      It’s been great therapy to have something to cuddle, or snuggle up with – when things get tough.

      Although black cats are perhaps not the wisest choice for a Mama who is short-sighted, and practically blind without her glasses. The number of times I’ve tripped over one on the way to bathroom in the middle of the night….


  8. Laura tweeted, “Kinda shocked about how many smart progressive people refuse to listen to Dr. Fauci, don’t believe that the vaccines are effective, and are still so fearful.”

    To be fair, Dr. Fauci has said a lot of different things at different times (often without no change in the underlying facts), and if you went looking in CDC directives for internal consistency or logic, it was often very hard to find.

    Earlier this spring, the powers that be were telling us we needed to continue to mask up after vaccination for safety, which was really bad in terms of explaining what was going on. It would have been a lot better to just say that vaccinated people needed to wear masks in public so we didn’t have to have separate rules for different sets of people during a transitional period where only a minority had had the opportunity to be vaccinated, but they somehow couldn’t bring themselves to say that.

    The public health establishment and the media has also said a lot of really bad and confusing stuff about the vaccines not actually reducing transmission and just reducing severity of illness. For months, they said, we don’t know if the vaccines reduce transmission, when it would have been truer and more helpful to say that we are pretty sure that it will reduce transmission, but we don’t know how much yet. There are unfortunately at least some people walking around right now who haven’t gotten vaccinated because of this particular botched message.

    And of course, bad CDC messaging has some relationship to the slowness of school reopening this spring in certain areas.

    Some of the bad messaging is probably incompetence and not understanding how the public would read their guidelines, but I think some of it is due to a basic lack of honesty in the CDC and public health establishment. They think we can’t handle the truth, so they try to manage us instead with fairly transparent evasions and falsehoods and an ever-shifting kaleidoscope of new directives, with the result that the public loses faith in the public health apparatus.

    tldr; They don’t trust us, which means that a lot of us stop trusting them. It would be very helpful if the CDC stopped thinking of its primary role as being to herd the public into appropriate behavior and started thinking more in terms of informing the public with accurate information.

    But, to be fair, if I’d been funding gain-of-function SARS research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, I would also have mixed feelings about educating the US public!


  9. Local indoor soccer arena (mostly for kiddies, I think) has a plan for checking vax cards/IDs at door and giving wrist bands to vaxed visitors/participants. Developed it since yesterday. I’m thinking it will work. But the local bookstore & semi-indoor farmer’s market said masks, still.


    1. bj said, “Local indoor soccer arena (mostly for kiddies, I think) has a plan for checking vax cards/IDs at door and giving wrist bands to vaxed visitors/participants.”

      I wonder how long the mixed rules are going to hold up.

      Hometown U. is planning on something like that this summer (vaccinated people don’t need to mask in the classroom but unvaccinated people do), but we haven’t had a chance to see if it works in practice.

      And of course the cards are not exactly bullet-proof ID…It’s still honor system, given that you can print the blank out and fill it in yourself.



    This is worth tucking away:

    “Thread — West Point randomized students into online/F2F intro to econ. Online students had lower performance, concentrated among students with below-average GPA/test scores at admission.”

    Michael Kofoed (one of the authors of the study) writes, “We found a large negative effect for online students of 0.215 standard deviations: or about a half of a +/- grade! This effect is robust across class day, hour, and instructor FEs and the addition of student demographics as controls.”

    “We found a consistent, negative effect across graded events. Results were large for exams and daily homeworks. These homeworks were graded for completion not accuracy! All exams were MC and online.”

    “We also find that our result is mostly driven by students of lower median academic ability; especially amongst those who had to attend the prep school (like an Army community college) or were prior enlisted. In fact, online never dominates F2F across the distribution.”

    “Finally, we used a post-course survey to understand mechanisms. Cadets reported that they were less able to concentrate online and a reduced connection to their instructor and peers. Also a negative effect for feeling that instructor cared about them.”

    “Caveats: West Point is a special place. Attendance was enforced, also they have room and board throughout the pandemic and cannot work or leave campus during COVID.”

    Meaning, you would actually expect worse results elsewhere.

    “Ethics: We also curved up online students’ final grades once we had the estimates.”


  11. I have two large dogs and a cat and I don’t know how I would have managed this year without them. Working from home makes it too easy to just work too much. The dogs prevent that. I have to stop at lunch and go for a walk, and at the end of the day, I have to stop for another walk. It helps put bounds on work.


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