“If you try to take a cat apart to see how it works, the first thing you have on your hands is a non-working cat”
Douglas Adams, 1952 – 2001
Regular readers of this blog – both of them — may be aware that Mrs Blog is a vet in her spare time. Despite this we appear to have developed a line in long lasting felines. Purdey (remember Joanna Lumley in The New Avengers? Oh, you do) and Bridget, the Mancunian cats we brought south with us twenty years ago, were soon supplemented in Sussex by Peanuts, a locally sourced ginger tom kitten. This being our first male cat, I hadn’t previously experienced the sight of the wife whipping off the male naughty bits and it did cause my eyes to water a fraction – that and the thinly veiled caution that began with the words “Of course, if I ever caught you up to no good …”
Two decades later, as I write this, Peanuts is still with us – though, as the in-house vet eventually terminated the other two at the age of 19, he shouldn’t bank on being around for too much longer. We’ve been sent numerous links over recent years to websites featuring dozens of cats from all around the globe undertaking hilarious activities with computer printers or simply looking at the camera in a funny way. But Peanuts has, let’s be honest, been a bit of a disappointment to us in this respect. The wife says he’s a very loving cat and, to be fair, he does take up some interesting positions when trying to lick his non-existent extremities – the one where he gets his leg up behind his ear is, frankly, impressive — but he’s never come near to building a successful internet career. Perhaps this is something that ambitious cat owners might be able to breed for in the future.
But, enough of our unfulfilled ambitions. Here is a true story.
A local couple brought a two year old, black and white, female cat into the wife’s surgery in a cardboard box, looking, at first glance, more or less beyond recall (the cat, that is, not the couple, or the box). They had an extraordinary tale to tell. Their friends and next door neighbours had moved house some six months earlier from Sussex to somewhere in Scotland for the father’s job. The family cat had gone missing almost immediately after they arrived in Scotland and, despite the family touring the area, knocking on doors and putting up “wanted” posters, she wasn’t seen again.
Until, that is, the couple now presenting themselves at the surgery had looked out of the window into their own back garden and spotted a black and white cat which could just, if she had been carrying twice the weight, have been a double for the one that used to live next door. The animal was dehydrated, emaciated and clearly in a very bad way. They managed to bring her into the house and phoned their former neighbours to ask if their cat was safely accounted for. This of course triggered astonishment at the other end of the phone line – the children and their parents had all been distraught at the loss.
The cat was freezing cold, almost comatose. Having inspected her, the wife concluded that, sadly, she was too far gone and that euthanasia was really the best option. The owners in Scotland, however, when contacted, urged that everything possible should be done to save the refugee, whatever the financial cost, and, against her better judgement, the vet acceded to their request.
The cat was unable to take normal food. She was placed on a heat pad, put on a drip and fed intravenously. There was no apparent response for nearly 48 hours and the possibility of euthanasia again arose. But, on the third day, a faint miaow was heard by one of the veterinary nurses and the cat showed signs of attempting to raise its head. She was eventually able to lap a little milk, then take more solid food from a finger tip. The next day she managed to rise unsteadily to her feet, purred and wondered what all the fuss was about.
I was given daily updates on her progress and couldn’t wait for each evening’s instalment. Indeed, my own work colleagues responded in similar vein. If it happened today the cat would have her own Facebook account or twitter feed. The owners were of course on the phone every day from Scotland. After five or six days the cat was making up for lost time, eating everything put in front of her and purring non-stop. The family made arrangements to drive down for a reunion with their pet.
With strict instructions from the vet they took the cat back with them and ensured that she didn’t step outside the house for several months to avoid any repeat. The delighted owners reported that she had settled into her new environment in Scotland, regained her fluff and recovered her previous body weight. They sent a photograph to show how well she was doing. This may be the only recorded case of the wife admitting she was wrong. One can only assume that any further house moves by the family will have to be very carefully considered, then abandoned.
Readers are free to speculate on how the journey was accomplished. All this blog can do is report the facts. The cat itself is unavailable for comment but is understood to be negotiating her own book deal.
On a separate note, in an earlier blog I raised one or two queries about the recent budget statement. I confess that at that stage I had overlooked a key benefit, a cut of one penny in the price of a pint of beer. So, have I now got this right? After 350 pints I get the next one free? Bring it on!