The Adventures of my FurKid – part 2

The words “Cat burglar” definitely come to mind when I think about another phase that Pringles went through.  It started off with him bringing home dried leaves and palm fronds (our neighbour saw this and asked if he was nesting.  Haha!).  This soon became rags or items of laundry that had been dropped in the garden or had blown off the washline.  Then one night he brought home a pair of little boy’s shorts.  There was only one family in the block with a little boy under the age of two, so I was able to return the shorts the next day, along with an explanation.

IMG_1164

The following week, it was a pair of brand new, clean, Woolworths ladies panties (boyshort style), with the tags still attached.  I had no idea who they belonged to, so I hung them up on the communal washing line, hoping that the owner would claim them.  The next night, another pair of the same brand new, clean, Woolworths boyshorts (same size but different pattern from the previous night, tags still attached).  These went into a plastic bag as the other pair was still hanging on the line outside.  When he appeared the next evening carrying a third pair of these brand new undies (yet another pair, same size, different pattern), I knew I had to do something.  Showing him the offending item and telling him he was a ‘bad cat’ was not working.

Somewhere out there was a poor woman missing three pairs of brand new underwear, quite possibly from inside her locked apartment, and I could only imagine what would be going through her mind when she realized they were missing.  So, when the third pair arrived, out I went straight away, at 7pm, armed with the latest pair of undies and my ‘not-so-innocent’ Catty happily trotting along behind me. It was almost as if he was interested to see if I could solve the mystery of where he was getting them from.  I knocked on every door that had an open window or open door where he could have possibly gained access, and asked if the underwear belonged to anyone in that apartment, explaining the situation and that this was now the 3rd pair!  Obviously, this brought forth many chuckles, a few “Oh, he’s so cute!” when Catty popped his head around the door, but it did not solve the problem;  no one admitted to owning the underwear.

I began to wonder where in the neighbourhood he was getting them from, and how far he was roaming.  It must have been an extremely funny sight to see.  Just picture a ginger cat merrily trotting down the sidewalk with a pair of panties dangling from his mouth.  Over the next two nights, two more pairs of brand new boyshorts appeared.  Whoever this lady was, she was now missing five pairs of brand new underwear!  If it was me, I’d be seriously worried about how my underwear going missing from inside my (locked) house, with no clue as to how someone had gotten in, or how it had gone missing.  I kept the brand new underwear in a plastic bag in case we discovered the owner and could return them, but we never did.  The still brand new underwear was eventually added to a load of second-hand clothing that was donated to a local charity shop.

As I mentioned earlier, my Catty is a hunter and he will hunt anything that moves; grasshoppers, lizards, butterflies, the occasional bird (although we’ve discouraged bird hunting) and even your feet, if he’s in the mood.  Being on the rather “festively plump” side, more often than not, thankfully it’ll be a near miss when it comes to stalking birds, but he has managed to catch three in the five years that we’ve had him. Usually he’ll bring them to us very gently, as unharmed ‘gifts’, and we’re able to rescue them and set them free. But there was one occasion when I woke up one morning to find our lounge looking like a murder scene.  There was a large pool of blood on the carpet and feathers everywhere! He’d managed to catch a sleepy pigeon during the night, and had decided that this one was not going to be a gift, he was going to eat it! Having to clean bird blood out of a cream coloured carpet at 6am, before going to work, was not my idea of fun and Pringles knew he was in trouble! He made himself very scarce and went off to to hide in the garden.

IMG_1190

Four years after we’d first got Pringles, we ended up installing a cat flap in our front door.  He’d always used a kitchen window to get in an out of but after an attempted break-in at 2am one morning, the cat flap became a necessity.  We hadn’t even had the flap for a week, when we were rudely awoken at 5am with very loud meowing and yowling.  Thinking that there was a cat fight going on in our lounge, we padded through the house, my heart pounding in my chest, only to find Catty lying outside on the doormat with his front paw trapped in cat flap.  He’d been playing with it, swatting at the flap as if it were a toy and had gotten his paw well and truly wedged between the flap and the frame!  His paw was upturned and the flap had become wedged in between the soft little paw pads.  How we eventually got it free, I have no idea!  Unfortunately, he did not learn his lesson and the same thing happened a second time, about a month later, also in the early hours of the morning.

I’ll never forget the afternoon that I thought my cat was going to die.  I came home from work to find him playing with something in the garden. Thinking that it was just an insect of some sort, I left him alone, as he often supplemented his diet by eating insects and lizards. The next thing I know, he’s shaking his front paw frantically and there’s this long, thin, green thing hanging off it. A snake!

I ran down the stairs and onto the grass to go rescue my Catty, completely ignoring my absolute fear of snakes. Meanwhile he was rather irritated that this thing had bitten him and proceeded to pounce on its body with his other front paw. By the time I reached him, he’d bitten the snake a few times and had broken its neck. With my heart pounding, I picked up my cat, leaving the snake on the grass and ran upstairs with him in my arms, tears streaming down my face, hysterically shouting for my hubby and crying “My Catty’s been bitten by a snake! He’s going to die!”.

I was asked what kind of snake it was, and if I was sure it was dead and that it hadn’t already slithered off.  How would I know?  To me, a snake is a snake and in my mind, they’re all poisonous, horrible things that I prefer to stay away from. I wasn’t going to hang around to see if it was really and truly dead. I was more worried about getting Catty to the Vet!  Hubby went off to investigate, with Catty and I trailing sheepishly behind. As it turns out it was only a harmless bush snake (not poisonous), and yes, it was dead!

IMG_1191

In July 2013, we moved halfway around the world and I chose to take my Catty with me.  Many people told me that I was crazy.  Yes, it was expensive, but I couldn’t bear the thought of having to leave my FurKid behind.

He went through a lot with this move.  He was put into a cattery for a month before we flew so that they could do all the vaccinations, inoculations and paperwork required.  I also didn’t want him to be around while we packed up the flat, as I was trying to reduce his stress levels as much as possible.  He flew on a different airline to us (via Sydney, which made his flight shorter) and was placed in quarantine for 10 days upon arrival in the new country.  When we finally went to collect him, I hadn’t seen him for 6 weeks!

We arrived at the quarantine facility and they took me through to see him.  I called his name and got no response.  Not even an ear twitch of recognition.  I was hurt.  Had my Catty forgotten me already, or was this payback for all that he’d been through?  The reason soon revealed itself.  It was mid-winter and bitterly cold, and the quarantine facility had spoilt him by putting an electric blanket inside his kitty bed.  He was so nice and warm in his cosy little bed that he didn’t want to move, let alone come home.

We stayed with my hubby’s aunt and uncle for the first few weeks after we arrived, and we kept Catty locked inside ‘our’ bedroom, just in case he decided to make a run for it.  On this particular morning, we happened to pop out for groceries and left the bedroom window cracked open to let some fresh air in.  I had done this before, as the windows are quite stiff and very hard to push open.

I forgot to mention that we’d left the open window (the bedroom door was kept closed) and unknowingly, the house was vacuumed while we were out.  Catty is absolutely petrified of vacuum cleaners.  The way he reacts to them, you’d swear it was out to eat him!  Well, he heard the noise and in a frantic panic, with super-catty strength, he must have managed to push the stiff window open wide enough to escape, and out into the wild he went.  We arrived home and he was gone!  My heart sank.  To bring him all this way, only to have him disappear without a trace.  Thankfully, he hadn’t gone far and was hiding underneath the house, directly below the window that he’d escaped through.  It took a while, but my hubby eventually managed to coax him out, and we locked him back inside the house.  The silly sausage!

We’d been here about a month when we finally found a townhouse to rent, and promptly packed up the car with our borrowed linen, luggage and the cat (the container with our household goods was still in transit), so we were able to fit everything into the car and could do the move in one trip.  It was about a 20km drive, so off we went.  After having recently flown for hours in a noisy aeroplane and been locked in quarantine, being inside the cat carrier again must have stressed Pringles out immensely, as not even 3kms down the road, he “dropped one” (thankfully I had put newspaper down in his carrier)!  It was a cold, grey, rainy day and we ended up having to drive the next 17kms gagging on the smell, with our windows rolled down to try and get rid of the awful stench.  At the time, it was not at all funny, but thankfully we can laugh about it now.

After that little incident, we were hoping that our first night in our new home would be unadventurous, but that was wishful thinking!  This was another strange house, with strange smells, and there had been another cat living here before we moved in, and Pringles kept scratching at the doors and windows trying to get out.  In desperation, we ended up putting him in the laundry room with his food, water and litter box, as it was the only downstairs room with a tiled floor that was far enough away from our bedroom so that we could try to get some sleep, as hubby had to work the next morning.

A loud bang abruptly woke us up at 5am, and it turns out that Catty had been trying to escape and was jumping up and hanging onto the door handle in an attempt to try open the laundry room door.  I went downstairs to see what all the noise was, only to find that he had managed to slide the barrel bolt across, effectively locking himself inside.  Instant panic!  How was I going to get in there to get him out?  The door handle unscrews, but you need to be able to access both sides to do this and there were no visible screws on the outside.

We remembered that there were three sets of louvre windows on the side of the laundry room and thankfully we’d left the top set open so that he’d have a bit of fresh air.  There we were, at 5.30am, standing on a chair to reach the top louvres, slowly reaching in and sliding out the next set of louvres out of their frames, so that we could get to the handles on the lower ones to open them and do the same.  Once these had been removed, there was a gap big enough for hubby to climb though and unlock the door.  Needless to say, he wasn’t very impressed with the cat!

IMG_0150

Pringles, Catty, Sprinkles, Orange Cat, Sausage (he brought me a Vole as a ‘present’ one day, while we were still living in South Africa.  I thought it was someone’s pork sausage, before I realized it had legs and it moved!), Thundercat (we have wooden floors and he loves the sound his paws make when goes tearing down the staircase, especially at night), whatever his current nickname may be, he drives us nuts, has us in fits of laughter, and can be extremely entertaining.  We love him to bits and I cannot imagine our lives without my FurKid and I’m really glad that I chose to bring him with.  I’m sure these frustrating and entertaining adventures will continue in the years to come and when they do, I’ll write Part 3.    Part 3 is now ready to read.

Advertisements

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!

Slide1

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.

Image003

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.

IMG_1080

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