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.

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!

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.