In which Rita kitten becomes ill

Rita 080812Sometimes a pet becomes ill and you don’t really notice. You are just so busy hussling and bustling getting things ready for Holy Week and Easter that you don’t really notice that a little kitten is not behaving quite as she used to. You might put it down to the fact that she was spayed six weeks ago. You might put it down to cats merely behaving oddly because let’s face it, they are a law unto themselves. And the fact that Rita kitten has the look of a consumptive doesn’t really help. She has the most doleful eyes and hang-dog (?) expression that she has never really looked full of beans.

But eventually it did register that we were not bounding about the place with quite as much energy, not demanding strokes and cuddles, and going back to sleep in the ironing basket all day long didn’t quite seem normal for an 8-month old kitten. Perhaps she has been worn down by Lucy Pussy’s cynicism I wondered. And I asked a visitor if they thought she looked normal. “She has the look of a cat with flu,” he said. Time to phone the vet.  The vet suggested I bring her straight in and that was last Thursday. Oh what a lot has happened since then!

First of all the vet noticed a weepy eye which has escaped my attention. Oh neglectful mummy! So that required drops and antibiotics jag and pills to take home. What a lark. She was looking a pathetic wee soul just lying on the steel table so he got out his stethoscope and it was then he found the heart murmur. “Have we noticed this before?” he asked. “No,” said I. “Oh well, it is quite bad.” A bad heart murmur! How could I have overlooked such an illness? And of course, I remembered going to check on her just a few days before and she was lying spreadeagled on the spare room floor panting quite fast. I had put it down to the sun.

“Bring her in tomorrow and we’ll do an ECG and chest x-ray,” says he. “You’ll need to leave her in all day incase we need to sedate her.”  And home I went, feeling guilty that I hadn’t noticed sooner and brought her for treatment. She got lots of attention that night, I can tell you. She dismissed it all in a guilt-inducing way.

Dear Reader, it has been almost a week now and Rita kitten is still int he Vet hospital. She was indeed sedated but an ECG couldn’t be taken. A heart specialist was consulted and we were told we should perhaps take her back in Holy Week to see him.  However, in the meantime blood had revealed that she was terribly anaemic so extra blood had to be sent off to a specialist in blood disorders. What was causing the anaemia? Where was she losing blood? (I have cream carpets and I’m sure I’d have noticed pools of blood around the place.) Was it regenerative anaemia or non-regenerative? (I know, I haven’t a clue either.) More tests were required. But to do those tests she would need to receive a blood transfusion.

Call in the Maine coon cats. It would appear that Maine coon cats are good at giving blood. They are quite placid, quite large and don’t seem to mind.  How charitable of them. So a local breeder was going to bring in her Maine coons so they could be type-matched with Rita kitten. The vet phoned me throughout the weekend to keep me up to date with her condition. “She’s not eating in front of anyone so we’ve had to put a blanket up so she can eat in private.” “She’s taken to sleeping in her litter tray.” Oh the shame of it! I felt as if I hadn’t brought her up properly. Imagine sleeping in your litter tray. How could she?

On Monday she had the blood transfusion and she seemed to perk up after that. In fact she got a bit tetchy we were told, which they said was a good sign. Maine coon blood must be good stuff. On Tuesday she had bone marrow biopsies and we now await the results of that. It is a bit nerve-wracking this waiting lark. Especially in the lead up to Holy Week. For a while over the weekend it was looking as if she might not pull through. Now it looks like it might be some long-term chronic disease which will require much care, attention and money thrown at it. Thank goodness for pet insurance.  (And let us pause to pray that this is all indeed covered by said pet insurance.)

It is quieter without Rita kitten at home. Lucy Pussy is looking decidedly smug and has reverted to being Queen of the Rectory. I am DSCF0426getting morning roll-overs once more and had forgotten how adorable they indeed are. She has reduced the amount she eats, not having to eat the kitten’s food as well as her own. Greedy minx. She has gone back to hiding up the back stairs and racing me to the kitchen (an old game but a favourite). Clearly she is enjoying life without the little one pestering her.

The vet assures me that they will get to the bottom of this but that it is beyond the capabilities of a normal vet. This is speciality stuff. No ordinary disease for my little baby.

I haven’t been in to visit her. Should I? Nor have I sent flowers or fluffy toys. I’m not sure what the protocol is when a pussy cat is in Vet hospital. Is someone holding her paw all through the night or is she lying in a cold little tray in a cage all on her own?

Lucy Pussy cares not a jot.

Holiday reading and viewing

Well, it was a funny old holiday really. Not really a holiday at all. First there was the illness… the cough to end all coughs that has lasted longer than a cough ought to last and is so flipping tiring it is almost the cough that carries you off. So we spent day 1 of the holidays in the doctor’s surgery getting antibiotics and steroids (not the first for this cough, but don’t encourage me or we could be here all day).

Day 2 was spend doing the housework that had been severely neglected over the Advent/Christmas period. You know the sort of thing – rubber duck nativities scattered hither and thither, christmas lights to be untangled, cards to be taken down but only if you are willing to dust and I wasn’t quite at that stage, diary to be updated, etc etc.  Oh, and Rita kitten had just been ‘done’ so I had to spoil her ridiculously, although she didn’t seem in the slightest fazed by the whole drama, and carried on leaping about like a gazelle and cleverly removing her own stitches. (We always knew she’d go far, that one.)

And sleeping. Yes there was a lot of sleeping.

So I didn’t really get into reading mode until about Day 3 and I managed to get through Death comes to Pemberley by PD James. Now, I am a big fan of PD James. And I am not averse to a little Jane Austen either. So I thought that when PD James wrote a book in the style of Jane Austen, and cleverly following on from the tale of Pride and Prejudice, I thought: “What’s not to like?” But I really had to force myself to keep reading. It was okay. But I’m afraid I didn’t think it was a great PD James or a great Jane Austen. It was a 2 stars for me.

My next book was a Christmas pressie from Son #1 – The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling. I’m afraid this was a bit of a struggle too to keep at but the second half did improve things a bit. I just don’t think there were any likeable characters and so I didn’t really care what happened with any of them. Except for Krystal. I ended up caring about Krystal and she was the whore.  2 stars again.

I abandoned Shoot the Damn Dog by Sally Brampton which someone had recommended. It is a memoir of depression and perhaps is more interesting to people who have been through that or very close to someone who has. I don’t usually give up on a book although I have begun to come to the conclusion that life is too short to read bad books. But this one just didn’t seem to be good enough for holiday reading. Perhaps I’ll go back to it.

Then yesterday I went to see Les Miserables at the cinema. Now this gets a big 5 stars from me. For some reason, I’ve never seen the stage production although I did share a flat with an ordinand once from Gateshead who had a penchant for the soundtrack, in particular ‘The Sound of Angry Men’. I came to hate those angry men.  Nor did I know that it was an opera and that the whole thing was going to be sung and that took a wee while to get into. Especially as everyone sung so much higher than me – and that’s the men I’m talking about! But once I got past that, and the very obvious white teeth, it was absolutely riveting, moving, and rousing. I just adored it. And I’d go back tomorrow.

Last day of holiday and one has to find a church. Oh what a dilemma. I really must learn how to use a Sat Nav – and indeed buy an up-to-date one. But in the end I had to go and visit Papa and drop Son #1 off in Edinburgh so I ended up going ‘home’. Should have checked the website first! It was a Children’s Service! Woopee. You know, I think I’m just going to leave it there.

So it was a funny old holiday. It doesn’t really feel as if I’ve had a week off. The house is still not completely tidy and the back of my mind is still niggling with Lent courses. (Anyone recommend a good one?) The good thing, I suppose, is that the cough is nearly gone. Not quite but almost. I have caught up with sleep. And today I made my first ever Chicken Liver Pate. It remains to be seen if it tastes any good.

Oh and how is my New Year Resolution, I hear you cry? Well, not very well, thank you for asking. You may remember, dear Reader, that my resolution is to buy no more fiction this year. I have a bookcase and a Kindle full of unread books, not to mention all those books I’d love to read again. Someone asked me yesterday how it was going and I said ‘not too bad’. He then pointed out it was only 12 days. Blimey, it felt like I’d been at it for months. So far my Amazon wish-list has grown by 8 books. That’s not bad, is it?

 

Ironing with Rita Kitten

Well, that’s not strictly accurate. I wasn’t actually using Rita Kitten as an iron, or indeed trying to iron her, but she was present in the room which must be a first since she came to live with us 6 months ago.  (That does not mean that I only iron every 6 months, by the way. It is merely the first time she has been in the room with me while the ironing was going on.)

So, here’s how it goes when you iron with Rita Kitten.

  1. Put up ironing board.
  2. Eeek! Scary clunky noise. I’ll put the hair up on my tail so that this big metal beast is warned off.
  3. Plug in iron.
  4. Oooh! A flex to play with.
  5. Get water jug.
  6. Oooh! A jug to drink out of.
  7. Bring basked of ironing through.
  8. Niiice! A place to lie down and leave as much hair as possible.
  9. Iron first hankie.
  10. Ahaa! What is this movement back and forth? It looks intriguing. Is it a game?
  11. Take hankie to folding pile.  Turn round to find Rita Kitten lying on warm spot on ironing board.
  12. Repeat 10 to 11 with dishtowels, shirts, duvet covers (bigger warm spot to sprawl out on) etc.
  13. Go for cup of tea. Come back to find Rita Kitten has moved on to the folded pile and gone to sleep.

 

How to give a cat a pill

1. Pick up cat and cradle it in the crook of your left arm as if holding a baby.

Position right forefinger and thumb on either side of cat’s mouth and gently apply pressure to cheeks while holding pill in right hand.  As cat opens mouth, pop pill into mouth. Allow cat to close mouth and swallow.

2. Retrieve pill from floor and cat from behind sofa.

Cradle cat in left arm and repeat process.

3. Retrieve cat from bedroom, and throw soggy pill away.

4. Take new pill from foil wrap, cradle cat in left arm, holding rear paws tightly with left hand.

Force jaws open and push pill to back of mouth with right forefinger. Hold mouth shut for a count of ten.

5. Retrieve pill from goldfish bowl and cat from top of wardrobe.

Call spouse in from the garden.

6. Kneel on floor with cat wedged firmly between knees, hold front and rear paws.

Ignore low growls emitted by cat. Get spouse to hold head firmly with one hand while forcing wooden ruler into mouth. Drop pill down ruler and rub cat’s throat vigorously.

7. Retrieve cat from curtain rail.

Get another pill from foil wrap. Make note to buy new ruler and repair curtains. Carefully sweep shattered figurines and vases from hearth and set to one side for gluing later.

8. Wrap cat in large towel and get spouse to lie on cat with head just visible from below armpit.

Put pill in end of drinking straw, force mouth open with pencil and blow down drinking straw

9. Check label to make sure pill not harmful to humans and drink one beer to take taste away.

Apply band-aid to spouse’s forearm and remove blood from carpet with cold water and soap.

10. Retrieve cat from neighbour’s shed.

Get another pill. Open another beer. Place cat in cupboard, and close door onto neck, to leave head showing. Force mouth open with dessert spoon. Flick pill down throat with elastic band.

11. Fetch screwdriver from garage and put cupboard door back on hinges. Drink beer. Fetch bottle of scotch. Pour shot, drink.

Apply cold compress to cheek and check records for date of last tetanus shot. Apply whiskey compress to cheek to disinfect. Toss back another shot. Throw tee-shirt away and fetch new one from bedroom.

12. Call fire department to retrieve the #$%^&* cat from the top of the tree across the road. Apologize to neighbour who crashed into fence while swerving to avoid cat.

Take last pill from foil wrap.

13. Using heavy-duty pruning gloves from shed, tie the little *&#%^’s front paws to rear paws with garden twine and bind tightly to leg of dining table. Push pill into mouth followed by large piece of fillet steak. Be rough about it. Hold head vertically and pour two pints of water down throat to wash pill down.

14. Consume remainder of scotch. Get spouse to drive you to the emergency room. Sit quietly while doctor stitches fingers and forearm and removes pill remnants from right eye. Call furniture shop on way home to order new table.

15. Arrange for RSPCA to collect mutant cat from hell and call local pet shop to see if they have any hamsters.

How To Give A Dog A Pill

1. Wrap it in bacon.

2. Toss it in the air.

3. All done!

Rita kitten and the Sacrament of the Present Moment

Rita kitten has joined the rectory household and our lives have changed immeasurably. My life has changed because I have become a mother to a lively 8 week old bundle of tortoise fluff who delights in climbing up my legs at any opportune, and inopportune moments. My nose and eyes have been thoroughly investigated and a trail of blood drops follow me around as the wounds of climbing expeditions and wrestling matches slowly heal to make way for a new batch. Who needs to watch the Olympics when you have a kitten around? We have our own long jump, high jump, earring swinging, running up legs, boxing rats on springs, squeezing through tunnels and under sofas, patting balls and hop, skip and jumping just for fun.

Lucy Pussy’s life has changed because she is not happy with this small creature invading her space. This is rather unfortunate as we had hoped that they would be company for one another. So far there has just been hissing and a low growling and they haven’t yet been allowed together in the same room without the wee one being in her pet carrier. But we are doing what the book says and taking it slowly, introducing them for a few hairy moments each day (at a safe distance).

Son #2’s life has changed because he now is told to take tortoise fluff when he comes in from work to give mummy a rest. All of our computer speakers are now on the floor in amongst a tangle of cables and much has been produced from under bookcases and drawers. (Not always nice things.)

As I watched Rita kitten last night it occurred to me that she was absolutely living in the moment. She will sleep where she drops (on the bookcase, under the table, in the pet carrier, on the back of my neck…) and when she is awake she is completely engrossed in what is currently taking her attention. She will play with a ball for ages and then move on to the scratchy post with dangly pom-pom then investigate each of my five fingers and their bitability before moving on to intense scrutiny of my nostril and then eye-lid. Each moving part is focused on with such attention. Her own back leg can amuse for a good few moments and I can’t wait until she discovers her tail. The bookcase with the glass door and the shiny fire place surround have caused great amusement as she catches her reflection and flies at it with a resounding thud and embarrassed look. But the sideways startled leap into the air with all four paws off the ground amuses me most. (You can’t be depressed with a kitten around.)

We have tried to photograph her but she just doesn’t sit still long enough. I think I need an action camera or something. So I have many shots of an empty space or her bottom. Our lives have certainly changed for the better and I have definitely enjoyed living in the moment with her. (I have even forgiven the pee on my duvet and then feather bed, all parcelled up to go to the cleaner later today.)  I fear I am indeed turning into an old cat lady, or at the very least Mrs Slocombe continually talking about my pussies.

Lucy Pussy turns Franciscan

It all began with the squirrel.  I don’t think Lucy Pussy has seen one before and she was most alarmed this morning when a squirrel appeared in the garden. The birds are one thing and produce much chattering and ducking as they fly in and out of the eaves.  But a squirrel meant a large puffed up tail and much angst.

Meanwhile I was calling “Lucy! Lucy!” from the bathroom because there was a spider in the bath. She didn’t come which is not like her.  “Lucy! Lucy!” I called. Eventually I had to go and carry her into the bath whereupon the spider rolled itself into a small black ball with no legs to be seen. Well clearly there is no sport to be had with a round black ball that doesn’t move. However, as she crept closer for a sniff a bit of web must have lingered and caught her ear so she backed up the bath trying to get away from it. I held her down. Turning on the tap gently made the spider unfurl its legs and scamper away which produced some interest from LP. But frankly not as much as I would have liked. Round one to the spider.

Now Lucy is scattering papers on the study floor and twanging an elastic band. I think she’s trying to make music. Perhaps it is Make me a Channel of your Peace?

Lucy Pussy and Colin the Crow

Due to popular demand, here is the latest installment of Lucy Pussy’s life in the Rectory…

Lucy Pussy has adapted reasonably well to becoming a ‘rectory cat’ as opposed to a ‘roaming around seeking whom she may devour cat’.  Because of the busy main road she has been imprisoned in the rectory but has managed to find plenty exercise racing down the main staircase, doing a lap along the bottom corridor and then racing up the back stairs. It keeps her fit and keeps me on my toes when bringing a cup of coffee downstairs to my study. We have had a few accidents. The back windows in the rectory look out onto trees and Bell’s Meadow so there is lots of wildlife for her to observe and ‘chatter’ to, including bats which were new to her. She is not too keen on them because they fly a bit too fast for her and she ducks every time they go past. Then she feels foolish and has to casually clean herself as if she didn’t just do that.

Last week, as I sat and ate my lunch at the dining table and read the Church Times, she casually sauntered past me with something black in her mouth. Something black? What on earth could it be? As all the windows were closed (it being summer in Scotland and freezing cold and wet) and as she doesn’t get outside, what could it be? She has been good at keeping the mouse population in check but this was something much bigger and blacker. A rat perhaps?

So I tentatively followed her out and downstairs where she kindly deposited large black object at my study door. So kind. As I drew nearer I saw that it was a crow. Yes, a crow! A large black pointy beaked crow. Lying, to all intents and purposes ‘dead’, at my study door. Where the heck did she find a crow? Now I know my housework is perhaps not quite up to the standard of Kim and Aggie, but I felt sure that I would have noticed a crow lurking around under the bed.

As she lay panting beside said crow, looking I might say very pleased with herself, it made a slight move whereupon she pounced upon it and brought it upstairs towards me. The crow cawed helplessly and then was silent. (I may add as the crow cawed, I screamed. Like a girl.)  And under my bed she went where upon there was some scuffling, some cawing and some mewing. Feathers floated out. I ran and phoned my sister. In Edinburgh. “A crow?” she said. “Where the heck did she get a crow?” Indeed. My point exactly. “Shut all the doors,” she advised, which was exactly why I phoned my sister as she is much more sensible in such crises. I shut the doors, except for the bedroom and in due time Lucy Pussy brought the crow out into the corridor leading to my bedroom.

Now, by this point I am having flashbacks of the ‘pigeon episode’. Readers may remember the first trophy Lucy Pussy brought home for mummy just minutes before the congregation were due to arrive for the garden party (to be held indoors because it was pouring rain) and spread feathers, blood and pigeon poo all over my nice white tablecloth.  (Not to mention the dust from the venetian blinds which had not been cleaned in some time – I told you I wasn’t exactly up to speed on the old housework.) But as far as I could see from my vantage point on the stairs, the crow looked as dead and can be lying on its back with feet in the air, and LP lay like a proud puss beside it. Ah but it was not indeed dead but playing possum, for after several minutes of pretending it ruffled a feather as if to move whereupon LP pounced once more and carried it off down the back stairs.

At this point I locked myself in my study and phoned Tom the ex-Treasurer for he has a cat and goes hillwalking. My reckoning being that he was probably used to such treasures being brought home and loves the outdoors and would know how to catch a crow. Bless him, for he did indeed arrive within minutes while I stayed locked in the study listening to the cawing and mewing cacophany outside. But then we couldn’t find either of them until a wee mew alerted me to LP sitting on granny’s old bureau in the window looking forlornly over the back of it. Colin the Crow has obviously made a bid for freedom and flown at the window whereupon he fell down the back of the bureau and got stuck. LP couldn’t reach him either but she wasn’t letting him out of her sight.

Tom, my superhero, casually rescued Colin and took him outside, much to Lucy Pussy’s disgust. And guess what? This story does have a happy ending for Colin the Crow flew off with no injuries apart from a wounded pride I would guess.

Of course, you are now wondering how Colin entered the rectory in the first place? Well I certainly was. Our only guess is that he fell down the chimney in the flat which is boarded up but has a small hole cut for ventilation and managed to sqeeze through it. For that is where Lucy Pussy spends most of her days now. Sitting and watching and waiting…

Notes from the Sick Bay

Lucy Pussy is ill. As I am new to this pet owning lark, I didn’t quite pick up on the clues quick enough. As a result, I spent a few days asking her why she was mewing so much and did she want more treats? It took some rather antisocial behaviour (on her behalf, I hasten to add) before I finally got around to Googling and then phoning the Vet.

Oh the worry of it all! Oh the cost of it all! And the pampering and smothering and buying of tidbits and fountains from which Madam can drink ‘flowing’ water. (The latter works a treat, by the way.) We’ve had 4 injections so far with never a squeak. (What a brave wee soldier.) We’ve gathered the smallest urine sample in history with a pipette and test-tube affair. We’ve gasped with horror at the result and then been overcome with grief for shouting when she peed on my bed. We’ve been dismayed when Madam was not lying and side-somersaulting at the bedroom door in the morning or waiting patiently until I came out of the shower. In fact we have been checking every half an hour that Madam is still breathing as she lay prone on the spare bed. It has all been rather dramatic and exhausting, frankly.

Today we seem to have turned a corner and we thank God for that. Now we are left with the pills and the potions to give. We have taken advice on which method is best and we tried two this morning: the secret method from a certain Provost and squishing it up in food. Neither has worked so far. This afternoon we go hunting for smoked sausage which apparently secretes said pills beautiful and is a delicacy in pussy-world. We are not convinced.


 

Lucy Pussy and other cats

Life with Lucy Pussy is never dull. Son #1 has just come home after 10 weeks journeying in South America and Easter Island and said Lucy Pussy is much bigger. I still think she is far too delicate to be out in the big bad world on her own. She runs a mile if she encounters BBC (Big Black Cat), CWCBYM (Cat Who Could Be Your Mother) and G&T (Giant and Tabby) but is much more predatory when it comes to little birds and mice. That’s just punching below your weight in my opinion and we have words about it regularly.

This morning I give thanks to Freda for this and to Kimberly for this.

Garden party and Lucy Pussy’s first kill

It is the morning of the Rectory Garden Party, an annual event where over 20 members of the congregation gather to sit in the sun and nibble on egg sandwiches and freshly made gingerbread.  Of course today it is raining and as they are never known to let something like bad weather spoil their fun, the Rector is frantically tidying the house and wondering how many chairs one can fit into a very small space.

Today is also the day of Lucy Pussy’s first kill.  The massacre took place on the lawn and then continued through the open window, through the newly Hetty’d lounge (Hetty is pink version of Henry Hoover), past Son #1’s screaming girlfriend in the hall, and up the newly polished stairs. At this point the half dead pigeon broke free and flew over the newly laundered table cloth on said table, and up the venetian blinds spewing feathers and blood everywhere. Son #1 kindly captured the bleeding pigeon in a bucket and it has now flown off as far as its one wing would take it. Lucy Pussy is pretty cheesed off that her lunch has been removed before she’d even got to the innards properly and is making her protest known by mewing loudly.

The garden looks like a duvet burst.

And they arrive in an hour or so.