I wish this was simply a plea for more readers gripped by the saga of my friend Ratty.
I was so tempted last month to head a post 'Miracle on 5th Avenue' but resisted thinking that would be asking the gods, the fates, the gremlins ... for trouble.
Ratty made a full recovery from his 'head injury' and his neutering operation. He hadn't rebuilt his muscle bulk because, we thought, he was enjoying the leisurely life of a pampered resident cat. He was agile, could run, climb trees, jump, yeowl ... everything a cat should do was done.
Lately he eschewed the garden overnight and returned to his friends on the street. He had 'picnics' with Little Guy (LG) his small sister and loved being out and about, going for walks. One paw was firmly at home, one paw out on the street: the perfect world for Ratty.
Yesterday, at about 6 am, Marius spotted him in the car port while packing his lunch. I opened the door for him and he came bounding in full of energy, maowing for his breakfast and then jumped up onto 'his chair' to wash his whiskers and digest. Marius and I discussed his quality of life: he was back where we had hoped he'd be, independent and free to roam, but relying on us for food and love.
We spent a normal morning together. Wolfe and Ratty vying for my lap or snoozing at my feet. At one point I said to him 'you are such a lucky, happy little cat. Who would have thought life would be so good to you?'
In the afternoon, I noticed Ratty had left his chair and had crawled into the cat tunnel for a snooze. I thought that was odd. Maybe he felt like a change of scene? About 3 pm he crawled out. I wasn't paying close attention but I noticed him sitting up at the end of the tunnel and not going to the kitchen for a snack. Something must have registered in the back of my mind that the sitting was somehow 'wrong'. I was busy so didn't look closely, and then I heard the fabric crunch as he crawled back in to the tunnel.
Marius came home about 6 pm as he always does. Ratty didn't emerge, run to greet him or dart outside to see LG. I sat down at the end of the tunnel and spoke to him. He maowed but didn't come out. Eventually he half-turned around and looked at me. How can I explain that his face told me he was ill? It did. My cat radar again?
I went out to feed LG on the step next door. Usually Ratty comes with me and eats with LG. Last night he stayed in the tunnel.
When I came back in, I asked Marius to get him out, which he did with a struggle. Ratty's hind legs have failed again. He couldn't stand.
I called the vet and managed to speak to Dr Rhett, who had cared for him the first time round, when we thought he must have been struck by a car. Should I bring him in for a blood or urine test? Rhett said keep an eye on him and call me tomorrow. He could not explain what might be going on. He said relapse from head injury was possible but very unlikely at this stage.
Then Ratty seemed to deteriorate very quickly. It was as if his progress over the week in the HDU reversed in the space of a few hours. He seemed to go blind, lost his front paws, and was only semi-conscious.
We left him for a bit while we ate dinner in tears.
Then he seemed to perk up a little (or re-gained consciousness) and I managed to syringe some water into him and later we sat him up and he ate some dry cat food (not my first choice but he wasn't interested in the fish).
We took him upstairs to bed with us, like we used to do when he was in the High Dependency Unit the first time. We made up his little bed and tucked him in. He promptly crawled off his matress and settled down amongst the teddy bears on the floor at the end of the bed. A couple of times during the night he croaked - half cough, half cry.
This morning he is much the same. I am not sure if he can see. He can't sit himself up and has lost control of his front and rear paws completely. He did eat a little breakfast and swallowed some water.
I am particularly concerned that he is not talking to me. The last time I was nursing him, he was very responsive, seemed comforted by being stroked, called when I came near, purred if he was touched.
I am glad this 'turn' didn't happen while we were away in London, nor when Ratty was out and about. At least this time, we know he hasn't taken poison or been hurt. I wish we did know what is going on.
He is lying asleep on his side on his chair. Occasionally he stretches a paw or opens his eyes and blinks at me and then goes back to sleep. He is breathing evenly and does not seem to have a fever. My cat radar says Ratty is not well at all.