The Adventures of my FurKid – part 5

The Adventures of my FurKid – part 5

This year, Pringles turned 11, and he’s still as playful and full of mischief as always.  He loves to climb into the shower once someone’s done in there, to drink the clean warm water that is left on the shower floor.  Why?  Nobody knows, as he has a perfectly good water bowl filled daily with fresh, clean water.  Sadly, he hasn’t learned how to wipe his little paws when he’s done, and loves to leave kitty paw prints all over the bathroom floor.  If we’re lucky, there’ll even be a wet tummy print and tail print too, if he’s decided to lie down in the shower while he’s drinking.

 

One afternoon, after mowing the lawn or doing some DIY work, hubby climbed into the shower to wash all the grime off, and Catty decided to climb in with him!  Catty was perfectly happy standing there in the corner of the shower with the water going, and didn’t seem phased by it at all, yet if he gets wet outside when it’s raining, he will come inside and meow at me to please dry him.  What’s up with that?

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Well, it was just as well that he got used to going in the shower, as he got caught out in the garden in a huge thunderstorm one afternoon.  Catty is scared of thunder and we think he may have hidden in the drainage ditch at the bottom of our garden.  After the storm had passed, a very dirty cat came crawling in through the cat flap. He was filthy!  The poor boy was sopping wet and was coated with mud from under his front legs to the tip of his tail, and there were leaves and twigs stick in his fur that we battled to take out.  I didn’t think to quickly snap a photo of him, I was more concerned about getting him dry in case he got sick, and my guess is that he was hiding in the drainage ditch facing the same way that the water runs, with meant that the water was going over him in the opposite direction to the way his fur grows, which is why all the debris got caught.  Anyway, towel drying him did nothing to get all the mud off, and I was left with no other option than to put Catty in the shower and wash him!  We don’t have a bath, only a shower, and I wasn’t sure how difficult this was going to be, but thankfully Catty just stood there and allowed us to rinse him clean with warm water.  The poor little guy must have been so cold and scared, that he didn’t care what was happening.  Once I had towel dried him, he sat an licked himself ‘clean’ with this really dazed look on his face, almost as if to say, “What the hell just happened?”

The over-the-fence game of stealing the neighbour’s rags has turned into a game of hunting garden gloves.  After visiting the neighbour’s one afternoon, Catty came home with a pair of garden gloves, freshly stolen from the neighbour’s garden, while she was busy and had taken them off briefly to attend to something else.  He also loves taking my garden gloves from the shelf that they’re stored on and dropping them somewhere in the garden, usually separately, or he hides them on top of the water tank.  I don’t know what this fascination with garden gloves is, but it’s clearly a game for him.  Maybe he likes the fact that they get returned to the same place each time, and it’s a cat version of Hide-and-Seek?

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Over the years, Pringles has battled with cystitis and the odd bladder infection.  Luckily, we’ve reached a point now where I’m able to spot the early symptoms of a cystitis flare-up and we can get him started on medication pretty quickly.  The only thing wrong with this is that the anti-inflammatory medication causes him to hallucinate and see things that aren’t there, although it is rather funny to sit and watch him when he’s “seeing pink elephants flying around the room”.

His most recent bout of cystitis happened in June, and our trip to the Vet ended up having a rather unfortunate and unexpected outcome.  The Vet came in and looked at Pringles before exclaiming, “Oh, my!  Look at your eye, you poor cat.”  This reaction from her was totally unexpected, as we were there about a case of cystitis and not about his eye.

Before I carry on with this story, I need to explain that Pringles had been in a cat fight about a year and a half before we emigrated, and he’d been scratched across the eye during that fight.  At the time, our Vet had checked it out and he’d been medicated, etc, but damage to the eye had been done and there was a little on-going inflammation, which caused his left eye to look more brown than the right eye, but he still had his sight.  I took him to a feline eye specialist for a second opinion and she confirmed that the sight in that eye was fine, although they did warn us that he may gradually start going blind as he got older.

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Anyway, back to the story.  We’re at the Vet about his cystitis and she’s just remarked on his eye, so I tell her about the prior cat fight, Vet and specialist diagnosis (I even had a copy of the specialists report in his file), and told her that I know the darkened colour is from inflammation and if it gets bad there are drops that I have to put in his eye.  She explained that it wasn’t just inflammation, but that he had developed sudden onset glaucoma and that the eye was swollen, hard and putting pressure on his brain and probably causing him migraine-like headaches on a daily basis.  Sadly, cats don’t show when they’re in pain, and we would never have known.  I was given the option of operating to remove the eye, or medicating him twice a day with eye drops for the rest of his life.  diagnosis, eye op decision.  I couldn’t help it, I burst into tears in the Vet’s consultation room.  I was there to have my cat treated for cystitis, only to be told that he needs to have an eye removed!

I got the medication he needed for the cystitis, plus eye drops that needed to be put in his eye twice a day for a week, and took my kitty home.  I think I cried for 24 hours after that diagnosis.  Not because Pringles had to lose and eye, but because I felt like I was an awful “Mom” for not noticing that my cat had slowly gone blind in one eye.  The Vet did say that the blindness happened very gradually, which is why we never noticed anything, and why Pringles never walked into furniture, etc, or changed his behaviour, but I still felt bad.  We made the decision to have his blind eye removed, as it would mean he’d be pain-free for the rest of his life, instead of dealing with pain on a daily basis and having to have drops put in his eye every day for the rest of his life.  A week and a half later, he had surgery.

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His left eye was removed, and Catty came home the same day.  He wasn’t happy about wearing the “cone of shame” and kept pulling it off.  The nurses at the Vet had recommended securing it on with a cat collar, but even that didn’t work, he just wriggled and pulled until he got it off, earning him the nickname of Houdini.  Then I had an idea.  I’d bought a cat harness with leash so that I could take him out into the garden when he had cystitis, without having to worry about him disappearing to hide, as we needed to monitor if and when he was peeing, and how much, and I secured the cone on with his body harness.  He was not a happy Catty.  Now he couldn’t get it off!  I did leave the cone off whenever I was around with him, but if I had a client and had to work, he had to have the harness and cone, and at night we used the collar with the cone as it was more comfortable for him to sleep in.  Poor cat.

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After two weeks we went back to the Vet and his 16 stitches were removed where they’d sewn his eyelids shut.  There was still a lot of swelling, but this gradually subsided as the wound healed, and the eyebrow and fur slowly started to grow back where they’d had to shave his little face.

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I now own a one-eyed ginger FurKid, and have gotten used to seeing a one-eyed cat.  There was no adjustment period after the operation (as he was used to not seeing out of that eye), and I don’t even think he knows his eye is gone, only that he doesn’t have headaches any more.  He was definitely less grumpy after the surgery, and even gives me the odd snuggle when I pick him up to cuddle him, which he’s never done before.

 

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He’s back to his old tricks and still tries to hide away from me when it’s inside time.  We lock the cat flap at sunset, and most days he comes inside and puts himself to bed before the sun goes down, but there are odd days when he just doesn’t want to.  He’ll either hide under our house, somewhere in the garden, or be visiting the neighbours, in which case he’s passed over the fence and locked inside anyway.  A few months ago, my little rascal snuck into the neighbours house mid-afternoon for a visit (if the door isn’t open, he’ll let himself in through an open window).  He said “hello” to everyone, and then disappeared.  Sunset came and I thought he was outside somewhere, and the neighbours thought he was home with me, as they’d checked all the rooms in their house before closing the windows for the night, and didn’t see Catty anywhere.  Later that evening, he still hadn’t come in.  I searched the garden by torchlight, called for him, and couldn’t find him anywhere … It turns out that the little rascal had known it was inside time, and had snuck it the neighbours computer room, curling himself up and hiding away so that no one would find him.  Needless to say, he was found and passed over the fence to sleep at home that night.  No sleepovers for naughty kitties!

As I’ve mentioned before, Pringles loves to drink out of the shower after someone has just finished showering.  He also loves drinking out of the bases of pot plant pots, dirty puddles, rainwater collection bins.  He seems to prefer these dirtier water options to the nice clean water we give him in his bowl every day.  Why?  I’ll never know.  His latest fad is drinking out of the bird bath!  Yes, my cat now thinks that he’s a bird, seeing as he’s not allowed to chase birds or go near them in the garden without being told “Uh uh” or “Leave the birds alone.”

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“If the birds can, why can’t I?”

 

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The Adventures of my FurKid – part 4

The Adventures of my FurKid – part 4

We moved out of the townhouse in December 2015, into a house with a garden. Pringles was very skittish for the first few weeks in the new house, which was understandable, and all he wanted to do was get out into the garden so that he could hide underneath the house. We kept him locked inside for a week, just to be safe, we didn’t want him running away and we finally let him out for the first time a few days before Christmas.

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The house has a rainwater tank (we aren’t connected to council water supply) and I was woken up early one morning, just before sunrise, during our first week in our ‘new’ house, with Pringles yowling “Mom, Mom!”.  It’s his ‘rescue me’ meow that sounds exactly like a small child calling for mom. I went outside armed with a torch, as it was still dark, and a tumbler of water to find Pringles sitting up on top of the water tank and the other cat sitting on the ground at the base. Pringles saw me and suddenly got all brave because he now had backup, he leaped off the water tank and chased the other cat over the grass, down the garden, and over the back fence onto the golf course, before he came sauntering back as if to say “Did you see, Mom? Did you see? I chased him!” I haven’t seen that cat in our garden again, but its so funny how Catty needs backup before he gets all brave.

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That summer was particularly warm and the cicadas were out in full-force, singing their deafening song and flying around all over the place. I was getting tired of catching all the cicadas that flew inside the house and putting them back out the window, only to have them fly back in again. Pringles was busy sunning himself in the bay window one morning, when a cicada flew in. He had no idea what it was and as usual, just ignored it. I had something in mind, so I called him and and used the words we’d trained him with to indicate that there was food or a snack. Well, he pounced on the cicada, played with it for a little while and then ate it. The next cicada that flew in didn’t stand a chance! As soon as he heard the flapping wings, he dashed across the room, pounced and ate it. He obviously likes the taste of cicada.

One year later, he actively hunts them in the garden, listening for the noise that they make before creeping up on them and either pouncing, or jumping up to knock it off a branch if it’s sitting in a bush. We no longer refer to them as cicadas, they’re now called “Catty snacks”.  I don’t mind him eating a few of these insects, as there are thousands of them around in summer, and it’s not like he eats all that many in a day.

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Not long after we moved into the house, Pringles decided that our garden wasn’t a big enough territory for him, and he took to roaming the neighbours gardens as well. He soon learned (by accident) that the neighbour on our right has a small dog. One morning, Pringles came leaping over the 6ft fence, as fast as he could go, with his tail all puffed up and eyes as big as saucers. The dog must have snuck up on him, even though they’ve told me that the dog is “cat-friendly”, and Pringles must have been caught unawares because usually he’ll stand up to a dog if he feels the dog is in ‘his’ territory.

Since then, he seems to only roam our garden and the neighbours garden on the left of us. Thankfully, the neighbours don’t mind my Catty going to visit and my “lion” can often be found lying in a sunny spot at the bottom of their garden, or ‘supervising’ the gardening and ‘overseeing’ other odd jobs.

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Pringles loves attention and will often seek it out, especially if he hears voices out in the neighbour’s garden. There have been mornings when he’s been lying peacefully at my feet while I work, only to suddenly disappear out of the cat flap to go and see who’s in his extended territory (aka the neighbour’s garden). Often when I pop out out to run errands he’ll wait a few minutes before hopping over the low fence to go over for a cuddle, or to sit on the their windowsill and sun himself. He’s never done this with any of our other neighbours in the past, and we’ve never encouraged it, but he’s even followed a door-to-door salesman from our house to theirs, just like a dog.  He’s definitely adopted our neighbours as part of his “family”, and least I know where to look for him if I can’t find him at home.  I also know that there’s someone keeping an eye on him, especially if I’m out for the day, or if I’m busy with clients, and I don’t have to worry about him wandering off around the neighbourhood, as he tends to stay between these two gardens.

We do still lock him in at night, purely for my own peace-of-mind. We live on a busy road and I’d hate for him to be run over at night. It also stops other cats from coming into our house, and it protects the wild hedgehogs in our garden, and any other nocturnal creatures from being tormented at night.

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Catty is very happy to finally have his own garden and is still very playful for his 10 years. We’d warned the neighbours that he is a “cat-burglar” (see part 2) and it was almost as if Pringles heard me. A few days later, he brought a rag in through the cat flap. I returned it next door and the following day, the rag was back. This backwards and forwards game with the cloth continued for a week, until it was knotted to the railing and my little rascal couldn’t pull it loose.

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Winter arrived and we finally got to use our fireplace. This is the first time we’ve ever had a fireplace and Pringles had no idea what it was. It went from being something extremely scary (with him hiding under the bed), to it being tolerated from across the lounge, to becoming his best friend, and by the end of winter he couldn’t seem get close enough!  On days when it’s not cold enough to light a fire, he now goes and sits in front of it, waiting for us to light it, giving us disgusted looks when he realizes that that’s not going to happen.

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We recently went away for a week and a few days after we returned from our trip to Gisborne and Rotorua, Catty woke me up unexpectedly. He’d waited until hubby had literally just left for work at 6am, before waking me up with this deep, guttural “rowr, rowr, rowr.”  Still half asleep, I wondered if the cat was meowing because he hadn’t been let out yet, and it was only when he made the deep-throated “rowr” noise again, that I realised it was an “I’ve brought you a present” rowr and not a “let me out” or “feed me” meow.

I turned the light on in the bedroom and there on the carpet was this large insect. At first I thought it was a huge spider and started to panic, but then I saw the feelers and realised what it was. For those of you who don’t know what a New Zealand Weta looks like, its sort of like a large cricket on steroids and about 6cm long (click on this link to read more about Weta). This was the first Weta I’ve seen up close and I just wanted to get it outside before the cat ate it, or it crawled into a cupboard, so I didn’t get a very good look at it. I’m not sure if it was a ground weta or a treeweta weta, I just grabbed a tissue, picked it up in and wanted to get it out of the window and into the garden as fast as possible, before I got a serious case of the heebie-jeebies!

 

Murphy’s Law, while I was carrying it from the passage into the lounge, to get it to a window the leads out to the garden, I dropped it! It was still fairly dark, so I fumbled around trying to find the right light switch for the room, hoping that I wouldn’t accidentally step on it in the process as I was barefoot, and once I got a light on, the weta had simply disappeared! Now, I knew that it was impossible for something as large as that weta to just simply vanish into thin air. I had dropped it mere seconds ago and it was in an open carpeted area. Where could it be? … After a few minutes of looking around, I glanced down at my leg, and there it was, clinging tightly onto the leg of my pyjama pants for dear life! Eeeek! And this thing just wouldn’t let go! Eventually I pulled quite firmly and the weta let go, and I was able to put it out onto the outside windowsill. The last I saw of it, it was happily crawling along the side of our house above the garden, fully intact and completely unharmed, as I’d manage to rescue it before Catty decided that he wanted the gift back.

I’ve learned over the years that when Catty brings me a gift, it’s usually caught and carried inside very gently and carefully, and is normally unharmed when he delivers it. If I’m going to rescue the ‘gift’, I have to move quickly, otherwise he changes his mind and either starts playing with it, which leads to his claws coming out, or he delivers a fatal nip that usually signifies that he’s going to eat it (and possibly leave a nice mess on the carpet).

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Christmas Eve … he’s eager to open his presents!

Well, that’s all I have for now, but I’m sure there’ll be a part 5 coming up in a few years’ time, as Pringles is always up to no good and seems to love having these little “adventures”.

The Adventures of my FurKid – part 3

The Adventures of my FurKid – part 3

A few weeks after I’d posted Part 2, we were rudely awoken at 2am one morning, to the hair-raising sounds of a catfight taking place in our lounge. I thought this was rather odd, as we lock Pringles inside at night and I wondered if I’d forgotten to lock the flap. I slowly crept down the stairs, torch in hand, hair on my neck standing on end, yet ready to break up a cat fight.  I got downstairs and turned on the light, only to find my dear pussycat in a full on yowling match with his own reflection! The heavy blackout curtains in the lounge and bright streetlights were enough to create a perfectly clear reflection of himself in the window. Silly cat!

Using his scratching log as a pillow

After frustratingly trying to teach Pringles how to use the new cat flap (he’d used one in South Africa, so this wasn’t a completely new concept), the silly sausage still hadn’t figured out how to go outside. If I let him out through the front door and then closed the door, “locking” him out, he’d come in through the cat flap quite happily, but he just couldn’t seem to wrap his head around the fact that it worked both ways, and he wouldn’t go out the house via the cat flap. He’d sit there scratching at the window, waiting for someone (usually me) to either open a door or hold the cat flap open before leaping through. He had free reign of the townhouse’s small garden during the day but did get locked inside at night, not only for his own safety and my peace of mind.  I don’t want him being run over or getting into cat fights, and it’s also for the safety of the NZ noctural wildlife.  I don’t want Pringles hunting and bringing in innocent creatures during the night. He seemed to get used to being locked inside after a few weeks, and he began coming in on his own as soon as it started getting dark, curling up in his bed, quite happy to settle in for the night.

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Sneaking into our bed, when he has a perfectly good cat bed of his own!

One chilly winter’s evening, we were sitting watching something on TV, and Pringles was curled up in his cat bed with his soft baby blanket draped over him.  There were soft snoring noises and grunts being emitted from the depths of his bed. Dear Catty must have been fast asleep when all of a sudden he shot out of the bed, levitating about a metre off the floor, he went higher than our coffee table.  He landed on all four paws and immediately levitated again before sitting on the floor next to his bed. He looked at the bed, looked at us and had this really confused look on his face, before acting all sheepish. He must have been having a nightmare when his bed suddenly decided to “eat” him. It really was funny and we couldn’t help but laugh at him. Unfortunately, it’s one of those had-to-be-there moments that I wish I could have captured on video. We still laugh about it, years later!

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We went to South Africa for three weeks in May 2015, to attend a family wedding, visit friends, and do a bit of sightseeing. Upon our return, we collected Pringles from the cattery that we’d put him in and they warned us that they’d had a few sneezing cats the week before and that we must just watch him in case it’s cat flu (which is highly contagious). We got him home and he was fine that day and was very happy to be home, full of purrs and constantly wanting love and to be scratched or petted. There was the odd sneeze but nothing that I was worried about.

The next day he sneezed a lot.  I started to think something was wrong but it was a Saturday afternoon and the Vet had already closed for the day, so I had to wait until Monday morning before speaking to them. Pringles kept us up that entire night with a runny nose and loud sneezing fits. By Monday morning, he was so blocked up that he had to breathe through his mouth, and he kept waking us up every two hours (at night) with continual sneezing fits, coughing and a blocked nose. He even stopped eating and drinking. It was like having a sick baby in the house.

Early Monday morning, off to the Vet we went, only to be told that he did have the dreaded cat flu! There are three types of Cat Flu; one viral that doesn’t respond to antibiotics and two bacterial types that can be treated with antibiotics. As it turned out, he had the horrible viral kind, the one that is really bad and cats can die from it if not treated in time. The poor little guy was running a very high fever (40.8°C, normal for a cat is around 38°C) but thankfully the flu was limited to his nose and throat and hadn’t gone into his chest yet. We had managed to catch it early. The vet gave him painkillers and an antibiotic injection to prevent him from getting a secondary bacterial infection, and I paid my hefty vet bill before taking my poor kitty home and tucking him up into his bed. I felt helpless, there wasn’t much that I could do to help him, he just had to fight this off on his own.

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One very sick kitty

I had to dose him up once a day with painkillers, as well as a precautionary antibiotic and he got half a L-Lysine tablet crushed and added to his food. Thankfully I keep an L-Lysine supplement in my cupboard for when I get a coldsore, so I had some already. The viral cat flu causes coldsore-like blisters on the soft palate in the mouth, inside the nasal cavaties and in the throat. It’s no wonder my poor kitty didn’t want to eat! It was so bad that I had to force-feed him food and water with a syringe for two days and he finally “asked” for breakfast after being on the meds for a few days, which was great. It meant that I was able to medicate him in his food, without me having to force-feed them to him.

Poor Catty sounded awful! I had to lock him inside as it was far too cold outside for me to let him out, there was a chilly winter wind blowing and I had to prevent him for developing a further infection, pneumonia or from infecting other neighbourhood cats. I had placed his bed next to the window, in the weak winter sun, to keep him warm and tucked him up in his bed under his baby blanket. Unfortunately, he had to get used to using his ’emergency’ litter box until he got better, he hates having to use an undignified litter box and prefers to go out in the garden.

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Unfortunately, we just had to sit and wait it out. Poor Catty’s nose was so badly blocked, yet it kept running at the same time and breathing was really difficult for him. If he wasn’t trying to breathe through his mouth, which cats hate to do, then he was trying to breathe through his nose and was constantly sniffing, sneezing and coughing. The vet said it could take anything from three to fourteen days for it to clear. I felt so sorry for him, there wasn’t much that I could do to help alleviate his symptoms. I did try to “steam” him twice a day to try clear his sinuses and would run the hot water in the shower until the bathroom was all steamy (just like you do when a child has croup) and then I’d carry him into the bathroom and stand there holding him in the steam for a few minutes until it sounded like his breathing got a little easier. At night, I just put him in the bathroom with me when I had a bath or shower and he would simply sit there and breathe in the steam all by himself. It did seem to help a little and he got into a routine where he would follow us upstairs whenever one of us went to bath or shower.

A few days later, he still wasn’t eating properly and I had to force-feed him his meds as he refused to eat his breakfast and the painkillers and L-Lysine are mixed into his morning food portion. “It’s easy and very simple to force-feed him his meds in a syringe” the vet said. “Just mix a teaspoon of wet food with a teaspoon of water and add his meds. Put the 10ml mixture into a syringe and just trickle it into his mouth. It’s easy.”, he said. Hahaha, I wonder if he’s ever actually tried to force-feed an ex-feral adult cat with a syringe?

Selfie!  (with bald patch on his front leg from his anaesthetic two weeks ago)

Eventually, he started to come right but then we had another set-back and he wouldn’t eat or drink. After trying to get Pringles to eat by himself and him not being interested, I tried for ten minutes to feed him with a syringe and he wasn’t tolerating it! Catty was growling at me, squirming and scratching my arms, cat food was going everywhere and I was getting really frustrated. I had managed to feed him with a syringe the night before I’d taken him to the vet, when the cat flu had first flared up, but he must have felt really miserable at that stage because feeding him then was a breeze; he just lay there and lapped it up.  Eventually, I gave up and had my own breakfast. An hour later, I tried again. I had better luck the second time but he still wasn’t a happy Catty. Fifteen minutes later, his medication and food mix had been (frustratingly) administered, after which dear Catty decided that he was now hungry and went and sat by his food bowl, waiting for some more food.  Why???!!! *Sigh* Why wouldn’t he just eat his meds and then get his “fishy” afterwards without all the fuss? Sometimes it’s just like having a naughty toddler in the house!

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Playing Hide-‘n-Seek … he’s not so good at hiding

I hated force-feeding Pringles. I knew that I was trying to help him but in his eyes, I just seemed to be a big, bad meanie that was trying to shove unwanted stuff down his throat. His blocked nose still sounded really awful but it finally felt like his fever had broken, as he wasn’t feeling as hot as he had been. What really irritated me about this whole episode was how blasé the cattery was about it. Cat flu is serious and highly contagious, cats die from it. It worried me that the carrier or sick cat may still have been in there, hadn’t been quarantined and that other people’s cats may be being infected too. At least my Catty was out and I was doing the best I could to nurse him back to health. I just wished that there was more that I could do for him. It’s so hard to describe how awful he looked and sounded. He lost a total of 500g, not a lot to most people, but to a 6.5kg cat, it’s a lot! Just to give you an idea of what he sounded like, it was as bad as a human adult with a really bad case of the flu, without being able to blow his nose.

To make matters even more frustrating, I only noticed after the force-feeding episodes that the critical care food the vet had given me to mix with his medication was chicken & pork flavoured and my fussy cat doesn’t like eating anything that’s not fish flavoured.  I then had an idea and wondered if I mixed his meds with fish flavoured cat food if he’d happily eat it, saving both him and me the trauma of the force-feeding, and it worked! You’d think that after having had him for so many years that I’d know this and think to check food flavours first. Well, after three days of force-feeding, he happily ate his meds all by himself and all the (unnecessary) stress had been for nothing, all because his food wasn’t fish flavoured!

Chilling on the deck

Pringles was really ill with this cat flu, it took four months for him to fully recover from it and there definitely were times when it was touch-and-go and we thought we were going to lose him. Unfortunately, now that the virus is in his system, he has it for life and as soon as he gets a little stressed out, it flares up again and he starts sneezing. The virus remains dormant in the body in the same way that the coldsore (herpes simplex) virus does in humans. Giving him L-Lysine in his food when he starts sneezing does help to suppress the virus and so far, we haven’t had another full-on bout of cat flu. Hopefully we never have to go through that again!

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Part 4 of The Adventures of my FurKid (which contains more funny stories, like in parts 1 & 2) is now available, click here.

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Asking to be dried after being caught outside in a sudden rain shower

 

The Adventures of my FurKid – part 1

I am “Mom” to an orange ‘FurKid’ called Pringles.  Yes, just like the can of chips and no, I didn’t name him, he came pre-named, as we adopted him when he was about a year and a half old.  He’s a 100% pure ginger Mackerel Tabby, even the tip of his tail is a pale shade of creamy ginger!  He has no white on his chest or tummy either, just light and dark ginger spots.

Now, those of you who have met Pringles will know that he’s quite a character, and he immediately knows that if he’s being called “Pringles” instead of “Catty”, that he’s in some serious trouble!

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My FurKid was born sometime around February 2007, and the first few weeks of his little life were tough.  He was found in the bush on the Bluff (in Durban, South Africa), along with a few of his siblings.  The little kitties were only a few weeks old, and something horrible had happened to mommy cat.  The family who found the kittens took them home to bottle feed and hand-raise, as they were still really young and unable to feed themselves.  Once the kitties were weaned and old enough for new homes, most of the kittens were given up for adoption, but Pringles remained.

When he was about one-and-a-half years old, his human family decided to emigrate, and an ad for his adoption was put out.  I’d always wanted a ginger cat, and when I saw the advert on our work noticeboard, I asked my hubby nicely if I could please get this kitty.  Approval was granted, and I went around to meet the family and see Pringles for the first time.  There had been no one else interested in adopting him and he was now desperate for a new home.  I agreed to adopt him on condition that he was neutered, microchipped and vaccinated.

Three days later, his ‘ex-Mom’ said her goodbyes, dropping him off at the Vet in the morning to have all of the above done.  Later that afternoon, I drove to the Vet and collected one very groggy, very sleepy kitty.  Our first night together was strange, for both of us.  Hubby was away competing in the Fish River Canoe Marathon and I’d never had a cat before.  I had no idea if he knew how to use a litter box, and being an ex-feral, I assumed that he was used to just doing ‘his business’ out in the garden.  He was still very wobbly from all the anaesthetic and he refused to eat or drink.  I kept waking up every couple of hours during the night to check on him (even though he was sleeping on the bed with me) and would gently carry him over to the litter box and then across to his water bowl and eventually, in the early hours of the morning, he finally drank a little water.  The following day he used the litter box for the first time, and all was well, and that was the beginning of his adventures.

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We lived in a first floor apartment, although there was easy access to the garden from our level, as the building was built below street level and the pedestrian walkway entered the building right where our apartment was.  It was easy for Pringles to just follow the short corridor from our apartment out into the garden.  A week after he’d first arrived, he still didn’t want to go out into the ‘big, scary garden’, preferring to rather hide inside.  Catty (as he was now known) often used to sit on the lounge window sill that faced out to sea, and on this particular day he had other plans and decided to jump!  It wouldn’t have been such a problem if we were on the ground floor, but being on the first floor, it was a long way down to the grassy area below.  I happened to be sitting in the lounge reading, when I saw movement out the corner of my eye.  I looked up just in time to see his little furry bum and tail disappearing off the window ledge!  My heart hit my stomach.  I couldn’t believe he had jumped!  My first thought was that my kitty had broken all his legs or injured himself really badly.

Fearfully, I looked out the window, only to find him trying to come home the same way as he’d left!  The silly sausage was fine, but he ended up going into our downstairs neighbours lounge window as he couldn’t get back up to ours.  Unfortunately, (or fortunately, depending on which way you look at it) they weren’t at home.  It took me another half hour to coax Pringles out of their flat, by rattling catnip and treat bags and calling him.  I had to leave a note in the neighbours postbox explaining why there were sandy cat paw prints all over their window sill, and over the following years, their little daughter and her friend (who also lived in the block) would become good friends with “Sprinkles”.  I’d often come home from work in the evening to find one or both them waiting for me, only to have them ask if they could come in and feed “Sprinkles” his evening meal, or if I knew where the “Orange Cat” was hiding because they wanted to play with him.

Looking for birds

After his flying leap, we soon realized that my Catty was a little rascal.  Not only did he get up to mischief during the day, but he insisted on keeping us up at night, too! For the first 6 weeks, he woke up us every night, at least three to four times per night, meowing for no apparent reason. We began to feel the same way that new parents must feel when they bring a new baby home … extremely tired and horribly sleep deprived! But thankfully, the sleepless nights eventually ended once Catty had settled down into his new surroundings and adjusted to his new home.

Things went great for a few months, until just before his second birthday, when the poor boy developed a bad case of colic.  He didn’t want to eat or drink, he was lethargic, and his little tummy was bloated and swollen, so off to the Vet we went and I was told that the colic was caused by him eating the head of a particular type of Gecko (a lizard).  How do you stop a cat from hunting certain lizards?  To this day, my Catty is still a hunter, but after suffering for a week with colic, he seems to be more selective about what he eats.  After that, we would often wake up to find “Tops ‘n Tails” (the head & back legs) of the previous night’s snack in our hallway or on our doormat.  At least he’d learnt his lesson on his own, and now avoided the things that made him sick.

His “teenage years” presented with a case of severe acne underneath his chin.  This lasted about 4 months and only cleared up after trying numerous things and happened to be a as simple as swapping his water bowl from a plastic one to a stainless steel one.  But this was not the end of our medical troubles, up next was a bout of bladder infections that led to some serious feline depression.  Most ginger cats are male, but you do get a few rare ginger females. The one problem with ginger males, is that these cats are prone to getting crystals in their urine, which then cause recurring bladder infections, and my kitty was no exception.

After three bladder infections in less than two months, numerous Vet visits and medication,  and lots of TLC, the Vet finally put him onto prescription cat food. Pringles still came and went as he pleased and had free reign of the garden. The kids in the block would play with him during the day and I’d play with him every evening, as well as out in the garden on weekends and laundry days, but the stress from all the bladder infections, Vet visits, and medication had obviously taken their toll on his little body and he became horribly depressed, to a point where he wasn’t eating, would hardly drink and didn’t even want to play anymore.  The Vet put him onto anti-depressant tablets three times a day for two weeks, which meant me driving home from work during my lunch breaks to go and medicate my Catty.  I don’t think I’ll ever live that one down, and  I still get teased about owning a cat that has had depression.

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Being a domesticated feral, his skin is thicker than a normal domestic cat’s skin and our Vet often struggled to give him injections.  During our very first Vet visit, I noticed the Vet having difficulty getting the needle in.  The Vet asked me if Pringles was a feral and when my response was yes, he told me that I may want to look away.  This was when he ‘stabbed’ the vaccination needle into Catty’s neck.  I soon became used to this rather violent application of his injections, but I think my Catty has softened up after many years of being spoilt, as his vaccinations are nowhere near as “violent” any more.

He may be rough and tough, but he’s definitely a “Mommy’s boy” and often comes off second-best when fighting with other cats.  More often than not, he’s the one who starts the fight, and his favourite trick is to yowl and meow until I go outside to investigate and see what’s going on, only to have him hide behind my legs.  It’s almost as if to say to his opponent “Ha ha, I’ve got back-up”, as I’m usually armed with a tumbler of water to toss on the cats.  It’s the easiest way to break up a cat fight without getting scratched to pieces, and neither kitty gets harmed.

Catty under the tree

I can’t remember if it was our second or third Christmas with Pringles, but one year he woke us up around 3am with a tinkling crash and a yowl.  The silly cat had decided to climb up our Christmas tree in the early hours of the morning, and as he neared the top, the tree became top heavy and toppled over with him still in it.  Cat, tree, baubles and all, came tumbling down onto the carpet.  We turned on the light to find a wide-eyed, bushy tailed Catty trapped under tinsel, tree, and baubles.  Needless to say, he’s never attempted to climb the tree again, but does love to sleep underneath it.

This is only the tip of the iceberg.  His antics get funnier in part 2