In which Rita Kitten makes a miraculous recovery

SAMSUNGLet me bring you up to date with the tale of woe which is Rita Kitten. A few months ago I got a reminder from the vet to say that Rita Kitten is due her annual jab so I took her along. (When I say I ‘took her along’ you must understand that this involved a three hour siege during which Rita Kitten ran up one staircase while I chased her cooing ‘Rita darling, come to mummy, puss-puss etc’ then she ran down the other staircase – yes, I have two staircases* – and so on it went until I had to cancel the 9am appointment and settle for one at 2pm by which time I had dragged her out of a hidey hole by her neck and folded her into the cat basket… four times.) It was all very exhausting and rather annoying to be told that they might not do her jag because of her illness (immune anaemia something or other). Told to bring her back next week by which point they would have checked out if the jag is safe for her to have.Rita 080812

During that time I noticed that she wasn’t as perky as usual. No climbing over the mountain which is my desk and keeping guard on the window sill, running a mile if anyone comes past. No wrecking the laser printer by climbing over the paper tray. No winding her way round my ankles in the morning. And when I thought about it, I realised that she had been getting quieter for the past week or so. (Except for when she has to go to the Vet of course.)

Next week, repeat the process of chasing Rita Kitten up and down stairs, in and out of rooms, hiding goodness-knows-where while mummy runs herself into the ground, Vet decides not to give her annual booster but listens to heart and decides that her heart murmur has become worse and she is indeed looking a bit anaemic. ‘Make an appointment for a blood test,’ she casually says, unaware of my own heart murmuring “Please, NO, not another chase up and down the stairs!’

image1.jpgNext day, repeat the process but this time I have been advised to throw a towel over Rita Kitten and bundle her into cat basket that way. All my towels are rather lovely and frankly I don’t want to toss my lovely white fluffy guest ones over the cat, nor my even more gorgeous purple ones. So I throw an unusable prayer-shawl instead. (Unusable? Cat had been sleeping on it.) This was reasonably successful but suspect I’ll not get away with it again. Rita Kitten is taken away for blood test and I’m told 10 minutes later that it her level is 10. Clearly I am meant to remember whether this is a good or bad thing. I don’t. Judging by the Vet’s sad face I assume a similar expression and guess that 10 is not a good thing. Vet decides to give Rita Kitten a long-lasting steroid injection and home we go. ‘Come back next week,’ she says. My heart murmurs and sinks.Rita feather duster 0713

Next week, I buy a fleecy pet blanket for a fiver in purple and blue. This is the for the sole purpose of throwing it over Rita Kitten in the big chase. It works and we are in our basket within 10 minutes which is not bad. Of course our appointment is not for another hour but at least we are ready. Rita Kitten’s heart murmur is getting worse, as is her anaemia, and she is now pretty lethargic. Second long-acting steroid and antibiotic jag given too. I suspect they don’t really know what will work but let’s throw all we’ve got at it/her.  Rita Kitten takes to the back stairs.

One week later Rita kitten is living on the back stairs in the dark almost permanently. She can only walk a few steps before she has to lie down and her breathing is incredibly rapid. She is not eating and only drinking a little. If she does come to the kitchen the jump up on the table leaves her breathless for some time. It is agony to watch. She half-heartedly runs away when the fleecy blanket appears but I’m able to catch her quite quickly. A different vet gives her a short-acting steroid jag and tells me that she probably needs a blood transfusion. The Maine Coone cat who gave Rita Kitten blood last time has moved away; the Cat Blood Bank has none of her type; and it will cost about £1,000 to get it from a Vet in Glasgow. That doesn’t include all the tests which would have to be done afterwards. Rita Kitten’s pet insurance has run out. This means I have to pay it all. So far the jags and blood test have cost me over £100.Rita in box 2013

The next few days are spent watching Rita Kitten on the back stairs. She lies there staring into space. She eats nothing that I know of. My heart bleeds. She is 16 months old and has been at the Vet so much with this illness. It now looks like it will reappear every 5 months, perhaps more often in future. She has never really had the life of a kitten except for brief moments of fun. Who can forget the day she blocked the upstairs loo with everything off the shelf while chasing a moth? Not me, that’s for sure. Nor the man from Dynorod who gave me the bill for unblocking the loo.

On Monday I took her back to the Vet. I caught her straight away because she can hardly move. That’s no fun.  She growls for the first time at the Vet who says her heart murmur is still getting worse. What is the future? We decide that if I can get Rita Kitten re-homed with someone who can afford the expensive bills which are to be part of her future then I should do so. If not, it would be kindest to put her to sleep. The vet says he will ask around to see if anyone could take her and I cry myself silly on the way home.

Rita 310812Son #2 comes out to say goodbye and takes lots of photos. Rita Kitten perks up a little and comes to lie on the table. Son #2 goes home, feeling sad, and Rita Kitten eats a little food. The next day Rita Kitten appears at my bedroom door in the morning demanding to be fed. She seems remarkably perky. The Cat Charity cannot take her because they have no money to pay the bills. I am waiting to hear from the Vet, hoping he has found someone who might re-home her. Not a peep. The next day Son #1 comes out and says that I have exaggerated the whole story as clearly Rita Kitten is as playful as ever. How could I think of putting her to sleep when she is so lively? And indeed, as I type this she has just climbed over my desk to guard the window sill once more.

So, it has been rather a traumatic few weeks. I have watched little Rita Kitten go rapidly downhill with her strange auto-immune disease. I have watched her lungs looking as if they’d explode and her heart race. I’ve tried to tempt her with a little chicken or a little fish, to no avail. I’ve been ready to watch her be put to death because that is no life for a little cat. And I don’t mind telling you, I’ve cried. And I’ve prayed.

Now? I’m just confused. Rita Kitten is a miracle on my window sill. Her eyes are bright. Her desperately pale gums have pinked up and she was eyeing up my pie at lunch time today. She lives another day.

* I have a lovely sweeping staircase with lovely wooden handrail and then there are the servants’ stairs which are dark and narrow and grotty. Every home should have a servants’ staircase on which to fade away.

In which Ruth had a week off and didn’t do very much

It is tricky using up all your holidays when you didn’t start early enough in the year. Now I’ve got to the stage where people say, “Are you off on holiday AGAIN?”  And you immediately stutter that it was ages since the last one, or how many weeks you didn’t get last year, or how hard-working you’ve been. And because I didn’t take time at the beginning of the year I still have two weeks to take so managed one last week. Was going to go away but that didn’t happen so it was a lovely week chez moi.

Think I may have given myself a thrombosis sitting so long reading books in the first three days. I managed the Book Group one: The Light Between Oceans by M L Stedman which was jolly good and didn’t take long at all. Then I read The Black Rose of Florence because it was set in Florence really. Found it a little disappointing for a thriller and not as much about Florence other than a few place names thrown in here and there. Not a mention of the Boboli Gardens either. How can you have a whodunnit without the Boboli Gardens? And finally I started Wool but am only half way through, it being small print and lots and lots of pages. It is a sort of grown up version of the Hunger Games, perhaps not so exciting but intriguing all the same.

I also did a bit of knitting for the Christmas Fair coming up. Still on the infinity evening scarves. There will have to come a point when I stop knitting them, I know. There are only so many events one goes to that require an infinity scarf after all. But once I find something I like doing I have been known to rather overdo it, in a sort of addictive way. It was the same with smoking, you may remember. (Almost a year, btw.)

Rita kitten is poorly again so there were some vet visits too. Her anaemia is back again so it looks like this will be her future. 4-5 months of okay health and then quickly descending into weakness, heart-racing, lying around. She has had all the jags this time but they’ve not made much of an impression. Last time this led to blood transfusions but I don’t think this is possible this time. As the big Maine Coon cat who lived locally and was a donor match for Rita kitten has moved away there is no other source of blood. Told today the blood bank has none either but there may be a Vet in Glasgow who has some – at about £1000. Eeek. Don’t really know what to do. Except worry.

Went to church on the Sunday of my hol to Linlithgow – my old stomping ground. It was lovely to catch up with old friends and be shocked and amazed at the size of the young people. J & R were just wee souls and now J towers over me and R is so articulate – he just ran round and round when I was there last. These people do feel like part of your family still but sort of distant relations. Made me slightly envious of all the young children they had, mind you. They did a fabulous Harvest presentation.

My baby was 35 too last week. 35! He, his girlfriend and I all went out for lunch. What did he want most on his Wish List for birthday presents? Star Wars Lego. Is this normal?  Last time I played with Lego it was at the Tisec flat when we were training to be priests. Not sure whose box of Lego it was (perhaps Gareth S?) but we were known to build our own sanctuaries when the studying got too much. Of course now those memories of sumptuous sanctuaries are long gone and we realise that we live with what we’re given. Cracked and crunchy tiles and all. Lego Church Top

And that was my holiday. I did sneak in a few wedding orders of service by the weekend because it was all looking rather hectic when I got back. Naughty, I know. But if you do take on looking after two churches during their interregnum then something has to go. And now a week later and the wedding is done and my day off today was spent attending the funeral of a good friend, and you realise that it is really that thing about being a priest 24/7. Ontologically and all that jazz. You do what you do because you want to, not because you have to.


Lacy cottas, Rita kitten and other such things

Well. dear readers, I am terribly sorry to have been neglecting you in the past month or so. Since my return from holiday my diary seemed to go into meltdown and I’ve hardly had a moment to myself. In the midst of it all I even had a birthday but it was all rather low key. Who wants to shout about being 57? My boys took me out for lunch so that was nice. And no blood was spilt so that was a bonus.

Last week we hosted the Scottish Guild of Servers AGM. I think it is the first time it has been here so that was a lovely honour but nobody could tell us how many to expect. In the end we catered for 50+ and 50 came. I love it when a plan comes together. It all began with a rehearsal in which the Celebrant assures me they want it to be just like our normal service and then proceeds to change it all. The loveliest part of my day was introducing Walter who has just retired from serving at the altar after 60+ years. (Perhaps 70+ years.) My team did a fine soup and pud lunch and tons of home baking. They’ll have trouble bettering it next year, I reckon!  Lovely to see servers from all over and some old friends. Not too much tat either which was reassuring. Un-ironed lace is never bonny. But let me tell you they have the most ostentatious incense boat you’ve ever seen. And the size of it! Our boat-person practically had to work-out to get the strength up to carry it. While the previous rector was snooping around he retrieved his old thurible – the one with bells on. Oh how we shall miss it. At least Big Aggie is safe and sound, although needing a good clean and polish. (Big Aggie being the huge gothic thurible given to me by Fr Alex, it having been given to him by the Catholic Apostolic Church in Glasgow when it closed down. She is big and beautiful and much loved by all.)

Rita kitten has taken a turn for the worse again. She should have had her annual Booster a few weeks ago but they were loathe to give her it until they’d checked her blood. Sure enough this has shown she is ill again so awaiting to hear what the next step will be. We can tell she is not herself by the fact that she does not hide in her plastic tunnel and leap out on Lucy Pussy, or make herself at home in the wash-hand basin, sunbathe on my study window sill and hiss at passers-by, or stash my feather duster, fluffy toys, bubble wrap in her hidey hole under the study chair. (Not well hidden because the handles stick out.) This time we are more apprehensive because her Pet Insurance won’t cover any of it. I could be looking for a second job at this rate.



I finally got around to reading The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and it was delightful. Except perhaps for the end? We’re discussing it next week in the book group so I look forward to seeing what the others thought. We are getting to know one another quite well in this group. We know who prefers a good psychological thriller or a murder or two along the way; who loves a bit of history (especially Tudor); the one who doesn’t like violence; and then there’s me. I’ve just surprised myself by giving up on the last Kate Mosse one because it was just so long-winded and I couldn’t care enough about the characters. That’s unusual for me and maybe says more about where my head’s been these past few months. Just started my birthday book which is the latest by Tracy Chevalier and already I’m enjoying it.

I’ll finish with a lovely story. Someone at church said to me that they were going to be leaving something in their will to Christ Church. But they had decided that they really would like to give it before they die so that they could appreciate what they wanted bought with the money – a new carpet throughout the church, sacristy and choir and servers rooms. At the moment we have pieces here there and everywhere. Hairy carpet tiles in the Lady Chapel, two shades of blue in the sanctuary, an old rug taped down behind the altar, old thin brown cord stuff up the aisle and at the back. This person also helps clean the church and said they’d rather vacuum a nice carpet than this one. Isn’t that a great idea? Give to the church while you can still enjoy it! Yay. What would you buy?

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.

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.