Nana's Cat Sitting Services, INC.

Submitted into Contest #141 in response to: Start your story with someone receiving a one-star review.... view prompt

12 comments

Contemporary Funny Fiction

Isabella pushed her swiveled chair away from her desk and stared at the screen with dismay and a tinge of anger. One star!! Her work had been rated one star by her very first customers.

Had she lost a cat or left one in a sickened state, she could see the rating as justified. Had a cat been malnourished or abused, Isabella would have expected criminal charges to arise. Had she damaged the home of the cat owners or thrown kitty feces around, Isabella would have expected non-payment. But this?! This was unexpected.

This review was seriously going to impact her fledging cat sitting services.

Isabella surveyed her office credenza with an arched, perfectly shaped, raised eyebrow. The white lacquered top held boxes of postcard advertisements and brochures that she and her artist daughter-in-law had designed and printed. The cutest logo had been created showing a spry older woman, in cartoon, holding a stylized feline in her arms while two others walked beside her on leashes. For in-home service, Isabella was only willing to sit three cats at a time.

She anticipated filling a niche sought by busy millennials who definitely did not want to place Flossy or Snookums in a boarding situation but didn’t have family to look after their fur babies. Isabella had anticipated a steady stream of feline companionship. Her sons and daughter-in-laws had been enthusiastically supportive,

And now, one star!?

Isabella was not a graduate of a prominent business school. She was a kindly soon-to-be senior who had developed a business plan -– meshing her need for a supplemental income with an intense longing for a cat. Pets were not allowed in her independent living apartment. It was a venture that now seemed doomed before it could succeed.

“One star!?”

“Oh, Cashmere” Isabella implored her dead cat’s spirit. “What did I do wrong?” Cashmere had been her and her husband’s pet after the home had emptied of their two sons and their shenanigans on their way to adulthood. Bert had passed on, peacefully in his sleep two years ago. Just like the gambler from Kenny Roger’s song. Isabella found the lyrics consoling: ‘somewhere in the darkness, the gambler he broke even’. Bert had loved to place small bets on the horses in their early years together. It was Bert who had gifted her with a senior cat long while they were in the swan years of their careers.

Cashmere’s death had been more traumatic in some ways. With blindness and diabetes progressing at a fast pace for the aging cat, the vet could only recommend a merciful injection. There had been many nights when Isabella had felt body shaking sobs for her losses. The move to a seniors’ residence had been to appease her boys and to be closer to their families. However, no pets meant no cat for Isabella.

“One star!?”

It was too much! She would have to approach her clients, face to face, and discover why they had given such a lowly rating to her services.

Arden answered his cell with a puzzled tone but “Ok…sure. Tomorrow right after supper? Sounds good. We’ll see you then.”

All three cats greeted Isabella at the door. She had considered them little traitors but seeing them again, Isabella felt only the warmth of a grandparent. The meows of recognition were like a child’s “Nana’s here.” Isabella’s resentments floated away like a cloud of cat hair caught in a sunbeam.

Invited to sit down, Isabella checked the chair first for any recent spit and sat primly on the edge. She fumbled with her house keys and steeled herself to look up at Arden and Leanne.

“Would you like a tea or anything?” Leanne asked. Isabella’s throat was suddenly dry and she said yes to a peach herbal tea. While they waited for their hot beverages, Isabella observed Arden and Leanne with their newly acquired Hawaiian tans. They looked so relaxed! How was she ever going to ask about all the possible wrongs that needed to be righted?

The questions, anxieties and feelings came out with a gush. Arden and Leanne didn’t have a chance to interject. “I just don’t understand. You were away for two weeks and I stayed here with Neko, Cooper and Audrey the entire time to care for them.

“Didn’t I scoop all three kitty litter boxes EVERY day and didn’t I put that stuff into bags and remove them every day.? Going down the four flights of stairs to the garbage dumpster?

“Didn’t I select a different can of wet food to give them a variety of tastes with each meal? And then wash each bowl by hand before putting them in the dishwasher?

“Didn’t I vacuum three times each week just to keep the litter from being tracked everywhere inside.

“Didn’t I try to remove all their cat hair from both cat trees even though I can barely see the tops perches let alone get the vacuum attachment up there?

Seeing that both adults wanted to interject, Isabella held up a right hand, her dainty bracelet of cat charms tinkling with the motion, and forestalled any conversation.

“Didn’t I keep brushing them even if they would only let me for a minute or two?

“Didn’t I play with them and bring new toys to them? Didn’t I play cat music for hours on the computer in your office so they could relax and sleep?

“Wasn’t I careful not to overreact when Audrey jumped on my back when I was bending over to get something out of the fridge? I hadn’t wanted to scare her but I was so surprised, I stood up fast and she slid down my back. I still have the scratches!”

Hearing her name, Audrey circled Isabella’s ankles with loving purrs and jumped up on her lap. Isabella was dressed in her work clothes (loose, light-colored tops and blue jeans so the cat hair wasn’t an issue.) Isabella went on with her list—all of the work she had done on behalf of the cats’ owners.

“Didn’t I wash the floors and wipe down the furniture after finding hairballs and spit around your home? And stepping in it too?

“Didn’t I sort and organize all their food after I learned about the chicken allergy Cooper has; just so I didn’t feed it to him accidentally?

“Didn’t I carry Neko for hours as a little baby and let her cuddle on my lap while I tried to work on the computer?”

“Didn’t I give all of them scratches and belly rubs?”

“Didn’t I love them as much as you do?

“Why did you give me one star?!”

Isabella had run out of steam. And with a little stifled sob, she quieted. She was immensely taken aback when Leanne and Arden looked at each other and burst out laughing. Actually, they had tears in their eyes, they were laughing so hard. Almost rolling on the floor with bouts of laughter.

“Mom, we didn’t give you one star!” Arden said. “Here, come with me.” And the three of them went to the home office. Arden opened the Stars Galore Business Rating website and clicked on their review for Nana’s Cat Sitting, INC.

“Mom, we gave you 11 stars! We put all ten that they allowed and then under it gave the extra one star so that it was ten PLUS one. Did you read the rest of the review?”

A chastened Isabella read over his shoulder. And blushed with the praise they had bestowed on her services. Oh, dear. It was actually a wonderful rating and review and already there were likes and questions being left by others. Isabella was profuse in her apologies.

“I guess I should have been wearing my reading glasses, eh? I am so sorry to have misunderstood the review. Uh, do you still want me to come over for next weekend?”

***

Isabella let herself into her apartment with a deep breath of relief. She immediately brushed off cat hair (from all three of her grand-kitties) with the roller lint brush. The phone rang on her landline and Isabella answered with a cheerful “Hello, Nana’s Cat Sitting Services.”

“Oh, yes. For sure. How many cats do you have? Their names? Uh, huh. Your name and email and I will send you the agreement and the cat questionnaire I would like you to fill in. Will that be ok?

“May I ask how you heard about my services? Stars Galore! Well, that’s good to hear. Ok, see you on the 29th .”

Isabella hung up the receiver with the sense that she was going to be busy for some time. After all, she was an 11-star business giving ten star services.

April 15, 2022 19:27

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12 comments

Andrea Doig
15:57 Apr 22, 2022

Well done! Being a cat fanatic myself I totally connected with Isabella… especially because own special Chloe cat also passed on recently and I too still speak to her! Lovely story. Heart-warming. Thank you for sharing x

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Lavonne H.
18:12 Apr 22, 2022

Andrea, my heart goes out to you with Chloe's passing. May you feel her brush by you and purr in your ear whenever she is near. Thanks for reading this story and sharing yours. Yours in writing, Lavonne

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Michał Przywara
00:05 Apr 21, 2022

The story was nice. What I think you got across real well was the anxiety she felt, and how she kind of got stuck in her own head, building it up and up. And of course this exploded as an avalanche of questions. That's a common thing with a new venture, isn't it? We don't know if we're "doing it right" and then any criticism – real or imagined – has an outsized impact.

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Lavonne H.
00:48 Apr 21, 2022

Oh, Michal--that is exactly the process (for me and for Isabella!); allowing anxious thoughts to build up especially when feeling threatened by criticism. How very astute of you. And how true that it can easily (too easily) blown all out of proportion. Thank you for reviewing the story! It was after I cat sit my three little grand kitties and I am not much of an experienced animal person, so writing about it was my way of working out that I loved them -- but not all the cat hair ;) ;) Yours in writing, Lavonne

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Sharon Hancock
01:01 Apr 17, 2022

😻😻😻😻😻😻😻😻😻😻😻11 cat face review for you for this marvelous story! (You know I’m a little partial to cat stories. 😂) I love how you describe cat behaviors…anyone who has a cat knows there’s personal experience in those descriptions. You just can’t get the nuances of quirky cat action without actually being around cats. My cats have jumped on my back like that and gotten comfy like they’re going to take a nap there. 😂 Great story! Endearing and funny. Loved it!😻

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Lavonne H.
00:00 Apr 18, 2022

Oh, Sharon, I love getting a review from you! And 11 kitties! (How does one put emojis on their comments, anyway?) I had fun writing it as a story rather than non-fiction. I had to rush back from Good Friday dinner with my husband's family so I could submit to the contest. I find that if it is entered, there are more reviews and replies which makes me feel like a winner. Your comments gave me such a fluffy, warm feeling. We must both have been cats in another lifetime ;) Thank you for enjoying it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Big hugs! ...

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Zack Powell
16:34 Apr 16, 2022

Now this is a fun use of the prompt! I had a few ideas for this one, but I wouldn't have stumbled on the 11 star twist anytime soon. This is a really cozy piece with a nice bedtime story feel to it. Just makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside reading it. I really enjoyed the opening, the second paragraph in particular. And the ending two lines gave me a big ol' grin. Feedback-wise, I think the only thing I wanted was to know definitively that Arden and Leanne were Isabella's children earlier in the story. The narrator refers to them impersonal...

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Lavonne H.
00:14 Apr 18, 2022

Hey, Zack. As a befuddled senior when it comes to review sites, I am not sure it could be done (10+1) but that is the joy of writing! Making it up! I really thought about sharing that A & L were her family but I was rushed with my own (real) family stuff. I guess I thought I had a couple of hints in the story (the feeling of being a grandparent to the cats and the surprise tone in A's voice with the phone call.) Not enough, eh? I really don't know how to work red herrings in or know when the reader should be let in on the secret. I only, ho...

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Francis Daisy
15:25 Apr 16, 2022

Fabulous story! I love how she gushed with all of her questions and didn't even let the couple answer; this was so realistic and relatable. Everyone has their anxieties and this lady surely let hers out! Great story!

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Lavonne H.
00:34 Apr 18, 2022

Ahhh, Francis! Thank you for liking this one. I wanted to work on characterization so chose Isabella and just gave her a little story. My writing skills being so limited, I was hoping the reader (you) would relate to her. I trust you have an image of her! Thanks, again, for your comments and support. Yours in writing, Lavonne

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Riel Rosehill
20:32 Apr 15, 2022

Oooh, this was so lovely! At the beginning I could really feel the anxiety of asking for the reason behind the one star (that'd be my worst nightmare!) And I LOVED that wholesome twist at the end. Just what I needed for this evening. Oh, and I wish I could find an 11 star petsitter like this lady to look after my hens some time!

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Lavonne H.
03:30 Apr 16, 2022

Riel! Wish I could say "call me!" But honestly, my character has more stamina than I (and is younger than I am); I probably wouldn't last long with a professional pet venture ;) The story is a lame one. Zack had suggested more characterization with Mabel in my last story and I couldn't figure out how. I wrote this just to practice adding details that tell about a character through dialogue and action more than straight exposition. I need to work on this aspect more, for sure! Again, thank you for reading and taking the time to comment! (How...

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