Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

Long story short, I feel like my neighbor is exploiting me. She has two
cats, one of which almost died a few weeks ago. My guess is that he’ll
died of kidney failure within a few months but in the short run he’s
being kept alive on a variety of medications and saline injections every
other day. That’s where I come in. I’m a nurse (for humans, not for
cats) in my day job. I no longer do the hands-on nursing that involves
needles but of course I did so for years. My neighbor was given
instructions by her veterinarian about how to do it, but I agree with
her that the process requires at least three hands if the first two aren’t
well-trained and the cat isn’t very cooperative. She hold and I inject.
She’s been giving me food almost every time I come over. The deed
itself and the brief socializing don’t take more than five-ten minutes.
But I don’t have pets of my own for a reason, and when I discussed
this with a friend who works at a vet’s office she said they charge $15
each time for injections. Should I say something or just ride it out? PS
I have heard of cats lasting for years with these injections, but this
guy is almost 18.


Dear Needled:

It’s always nice to have someone cook for you. But being paid is nice
also. You don’t say how long this been going on. By me doing it for a
few weeks, even a month or so is neighborly. Doing it longer than that
feel very discretionary. But it’s also an act of kindness, to the neighbor
and to the cat. If it’s not a big deal, keep doing it. If you truly feel
exploited, you’re going to have to speak up. You can do it actively or
passively. Actively is more honest.

You don’t say what time of day you do this or how it impacts your
schedule. A passive way of interrupting the pattern is simply to alert
your neighbor that you will be less available, and then follow through.
A more active way is to have an actual conversation that says, This is
more than I thought I was saying yes to. I appreciate that you’ve been
thanking me with food, but your cat seems like he’s going to need this
for a long while. Do you think you can learn to give the shots under
my supervision, and then have a different neighbor hold the cat for
you, at least a couple times a week? Unless she’s deaf, dumb, and
blind, she’ll get the message, readjust her expectations, or offer to pay
you in money not food.