Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Cats can see into the future!

I have always suspected that cats had powers we mere humans could not comprehend:  they can hear a refrigerator door open at 100m; they can identify those who are uncomfortable around felines and head straight for them; they can leap huge walls at a single bound;  and they can see into the future.  My cats  can see into the future and DO NOT like what they see. 

I haven't taken my suitcase out of the cupboard, nor have I made little piles of things I mustn't forget.  I haven't packed my sunblock and hat -- I haven't even wrapped the presents, but THEY know, and they are grumbling.

Ratty won't leave my side.  Usually he doesn't venture up the stairs as Mr Macc and Miss Ming have ruled the bedrooms out of bounds to interloper cats.  This morning Ratty came up and joined me while I was having my bath.  I was wallowing in luxury - my last bath for three weeks as timed showers are the order of the day in Australia.  Ratty came bouncing in yeowlling.  'There you are!  I've been looking for you!  Why did you leave me by myself?'  And so on.  If he crept in quietly and sat beside the bath like Ming does, nobody would have noticed except me.  No, Ratty has a fanfare everywhere he goes and the 'parent cats' were not amused.

After I got dressed and I began to tidy the bedroom - you know putting away shoes that have been lying about for a week, and jackets that won't be worn for another six weeks -  Ratty was everywhere.  In the cupboards, helping me with my knapsack, spooking himself in the mirror and finally leaping onto the bed (first time since the meltdown).  Then he followed me into my study which is Ming Central while I found another Christmas card to write, and he jumped up on Macc's chair, while Ming peered around the edge of the curtain at him, disapproval screaming across her whiskers.

I haven't begun to pack.  That mountain is looming before me.

They know I will begin soon.  Tonight we leave for Australia and family Christmas.  I hate packing.  I hate travelling. I shudder to think what size my carbon footprint is. We will eat far too much and spend far too much and we will come back from our 'holiday' exhausted.

Rest assured the cats will be well cared for in my absence.  As well as my domestic assistant who will be in charge of day to day care, I have a roster of friends organised to cope with emergencies.

I hope you all have happy and peaceful Christmases (or appropriate festivities if you don't partake of Christmas).  I've enjoyed your company while in exile and hope to see you all (virtually at least) in the new year.

Best wishes, Isabel x


Saturday, December 17, 2011

More Adventures in Cat-land

Don't wring your hands in anxiety - the cats are all well and flourishing.

Little Guy (LG) is growing fuzz where she was shaved for her operation.  Her wound is healed and she is her normal bouncy self.  She continues to neglect her kittens and cast herself at the tomcats.  She is of no interest to them (thankfully!) which is good for her long-term health, even if she is suffering from short-term confusion and rejection. 

LG and Ratty are back hanging out together on the doorstep, still the best of pals.  Ratty has not recovered his former strength - he can't leap up onto walls, only onto comfy chairs and laps.

I have been in hospital this past week having infusions every morning and coming home about 10 o'clock, which has rather upset Ratty's routine.  On Sunday (first day of the week here) when I came home Ratty was sitting on the doorstep with LG.  This was the first time he has climbed out of the garden since his second illness.  He was happy to see me and skipped inside.  On Wednesday I came in, noted Ratty sitting under the table and almost immediately went out again to visit a friend on the compound.  When I got home an hour or two later, Ratty was no where to be seen.  It was a lovely day so I thought perhaps he was in the garden with the other cats, and I was very tired.  I lay down on the couch thinking Ratty will come and join me, as he always does, and promptly fell asleep. (Please note I get up at 4 40 am to get to the hospital for 6 am, and the treatment is exhausting so I am allowed to have a sleep.  In fact I need to have a sleep every day.) 

My conscience woke me up.  No Ratty.  I forced myself up and had a look in the garden for him.  No Ratty.  I knew he would not be upstairs if I was downstairs, which meant he was probably out on the compound somewhere, and possibly in trouble.  I went for a walk along the golf course road.  There was no one around to hear me call 'Ratty', feeling slightly foolish.  There were lots of peacocks about but no cats. 

Then I heard a voice, and saw one of Seams's May kittens, who came out of the trees to ask for a handout, but I didn't think it was his (probably a male) voice I'd heard.  A few metres further on was Ratty, sitting up and maowing.  I called again and he came running towards me, maowing furiously.  But, he couldn't get to me, and I could see why he hadn't come home:  at that point, the surface of the golf course is about one and a half metres below the surface of our road - so he was facing a two metre high concrete wall.  What to do?

I knew that about 300 metres back towards the club house, the ground rises and at one point, the golf course is actually slightly above the top of the retaining wall.  Could I convince him to follow me along the road back to where he could hop out?

First there was the the group of peacocks and hens to negotiate - pretty scary for a cat of any condition, doubly so for one who is not perfectly fit.  Then there was the Seams-kitten who wanted to keep Ratty off his 'patch'.  Ratty is not the brightest cat in the firmament but he is loyal and deeply, madly, truly in love with me.  He followed me.  I called, he maowed, we'd progress five or ten metres and then he'd stop to have a rest. He tried a few times to jump up onto the wall and crashed back to the sand. Finally I reached the part where the golf course was above the wall, only Ratty was not with me. I called and he answered - he'd managed to jump up and was down on the road behind me, waiting.

We trotted home together, Ratty chatting and me relieved.  He came in and had an enormous bowl of crunchies and then we retired to the sofa, together:

We were quite done in by our excitement.

But very happy the adventure had a happy outcome:

He has not ventured back to the golf course to my knowledge - or if he has, he's remembered where he can get out.  He does like climbing out of the garden and hanging with LG on the front step, and always likes scooting back inside when I open the door for him.  Mind you, he never goes out if I am at home so I suspect some of his motivation for going AWOL is that he is looking for me.  He's at my feet now.

Miss Ming and Mr Macc are continuing with their toffee-nosed approach to the interlopers.  I have caught them ganging up together on Miss Wolfe, which is a bit mean, although she does ask for it.  The other day Wolfe pounced on Ming as she left the kitchen, a sneaky, surprise attack.  Wolfe is a smart cat though, and when I shouted at her, she immediately left Ming alone and ran away to hide.  I could really do without cat-dramas at 5 am.  Really.

Macc and Ming remind me of disapproving parents - I think it is me as much as the interlopers that they are disappointed in:

what have you brought home?


Tuesday, December 6, 2011


LG spent a few days at my friend's spa recuperating from her operation.  We had planned to keep her in protective custody until after her follow-up visit to the Vet on Wednesday afternoon.  However, in spite of all appearances to the contrary, she had been feeding her kittens - and by last night her mammaries were full of milk.

This morning, protesting even more than during her first inelegant plunge into the cat carrier, R and I brought her home.  We took her, in the carrier, to the wall of the golf course.  Her kittens were down in the sand, waiting for me to feed them.  At the sight of us, or the smell of their mother, they began to meow loudly.  LG was frantic to get out of the carrier to them.  We could barely unzip the front before she scrabbled her way free.

There was a touching reunion:

where kittens got milk and LG relief.  She washed them and kissed them, making a happy family.  R and I were also relieved and pleased, as we worried that she would spurn them, leaving them exposed and vulnerable to peacocks and wild cats. We were also relieved that the kittens survived without her for the 48 hours she was 'busy'.

It wasn't long before LG's attention wandered ...

and then  LG had had enough of the whole motherhood sentimental business.  She shrugged off the remaining kittens and climbed a tree to sharpen her (trimmed under anaesthetic) claws.  The kittens came back and finished the crunchies I had scattered for them.

We wondered if LG would ever trust us again.  She'd cast some pretty severe looks our way before she sauntered off into the trees.  (My friend R thought this might be because LG had hoped she'd no longer be out on the street and had passed some bizarre initiation rite.)

Less than two hours later I went out to buy some bread - and look who was on the doorstep, showing off her clipped ear:

The clipped ear tells any would-be cat catchers that she has been sterilised and can be left alone (we hope).  She has a significant shaved patch which will be chilly (it is quite cool for Exile-land presently), perhaps it will encourage her to snuggle up to her babies at night?

I am pleased it has all worked out so smoothly without any major dramas and that we are all still friends.  And I am grateful that my friend R was able to provide lifting and taxi services, along with the all-important recuperation suite.

Ratty is doing well although he is still a little gamy in the hind legs.  He more than makes up for any physical shortcomings by his devotion.


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Ratty & LG

I've written before about the lovely and unique relationship demonstrated between two street cats - Ratty and LG - who I've known and fed, cared for and loved, for about 15 months.

They are litter-mates and are always together.  Even when LG is seeing suitors, she makes time for Ratty. 

We've had more rain lately and it has been unseasonably cold.  This last week while Ratty has been ill,  LG has been camping on the doorstep, waiting for him to come out (or better still) for her chance to come in.  This morning she had her chance. 

LG - Marius refers to her as 'Not the Mother of the Year' - is famous for neglecting her kittens; when she is with them she ignores them (I know how she feels) and she seems to spend most of her time hanging around our house. When we give her food, she is reluctant to share (normal) and resistant to feeding them (not normal).  Her current litter has three surviving kittens, all desperately cute bundles of fuzz.  They must be three or four months old and able to fend for themselves outof necessity, although I think LG  was still feeding them in a haphazard fashion. 

LG is in  season again. At least she has been waving her bum under the nose of Black Tom in a fairly provocative way, so I presume if she isn't yet in season, she will be very soon.  She is tiny, always looks underfed and quite simply, another pregnancy would not do her any good.   At last count we had about 15 strays on the compound.  We do not need more kittens, please.  So, I arranged with a friend to help me catch LG and today we took her to the vet to have her spaying operation. 

I put one of Ratty's old bed pads (unsoiled of course, but deliciously Ratty-scented) in one of our cat carriers.  We let LG come in to the house with us where my friend R scooped her up and plunged her, struggling, into the waiting carrier.  She screamed and swore and threw herself around in the confined space.  Then Ratty strolled up and sat  next to her and spoke softly in cat-ese to her and she calmed down immediately.

R and I had a cup of tea and a quick piece of toast - it was 7 am - and then we took LG out to the car and drove the 40 minutes to the Vet.  She meowed once, softly, on the way.  Perhaps the Ratty scent made her feel more secure?  She is in the animal hospital now, coming out of her anaesthetic and we will trek over to pick her up in an hour or so.  My friend R has agreed to let LG stay with her in a spare room, for a day or two while her incision heals, and then she will be out on the street or my doorstep, once more.

As for Ratty, he is convalescing.  He can walk and run, wash himself, eat and do all the cat things except leap up onto a chair, and his purr has also returned.  He is curled up at my feet as I'm writing this.  We hope he will not have another neurological meltdown.  We hope the HDU is closed permanently, but we can't say, and neither can the Vet, whether he will have a further episode.

In January, another neighbour will help R take some more of the kittens to the government veterinary hospital where they have a free program of trap-neuter-return.  I was concerned if we waited until January LG would have become pregnant, and as that would make the spaying operation much more complex, I am afraid the government would simply euthanise her, rather than spay her.  Hence her trip today (for a fee!).  We don't know where the government vet is and we are relying on this other lady to direct us there, but she doesn't want to transport cats etc, until after she returns from her holidays. 

At least something is being done to help the strays.  Lots of people (well, half a dozen) are keen to feed the cute little kitties, which is lovely, but I believe there is a further responsibility to get them sterile if you want to feed them - helping them tomorrow as well as today. 

Marius is not impressed with me.  He says 'You can't save the world'  and 'Where is this going to stop?', both reasonable reactions I suppose.  When I sent him a message this morning telling him how smooth the catching and transporting adventure had been, he was very pleased.  See, he tries to be gruff and uncaring and sensible, but he is as much of a softie as I am.