Imagine, if you will, that you are walking back to the office from lunch and you come across a cat. Awwww, you think, a little kitty. Then you notice that its fur is matted, and in some places missing. It’s painfully thin, so much so that you could probably wrap just one hand around it. It's moving slowly and awkwardly. It’s in a bad way, in other words. So you decide to do the decent thing and call someone who might be able to help it – say, for example, the RSPCA (that would be the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty toward Animals).
You stand just along the road from the cat, thinking that you’ll keep an eye on it until help can arrive. Just far enough away that you don’t cause it to panic or think that you're going to harm it. It’s now lying on the pavement looking exhausted.
After navigating several phone menus you eventually get through to someone in the emergency department who first asks for your full name, then your phone number, then your address, despite the fact that you’re over 12 miles away from home and it’s really not relevant. The woman insists, and because the cat isn’t really looking too good you give it because you just want to get the poor thing some help and unnecessary faffing about just means it'll have to wait longer.
The woman finally asks what the problem is, although she really doesn’t sound terribly interested. As you tell her, the cat gets up and walks unsteadily around the corner into someone’s front garden. The woman asks if you have hold of the cat. You say “no, but…” and then she cuts you off and says they aren’t going to send someone round just on the off-chance they might find an injured cat. She says you should call back if you see the cat again and can confine it. You start to argue but she just interrupts you again and asks if it’s OK for them to keep your details on record so they can get in touch about appeals and fundraising events.
You say “no,” when all you really want to do is shout “get someone the f**k out here to help this cat.”
She says no worries and hangs up.
The cat is gone.