The Adventures of my FurKid – part 2

The words “Cat burglar” definitely come to mind when I think about another phase that he went through.  It started off with him bringing home dried leaves and palm fronds (our neighbour saw this and asked if he was nesting!).  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 them the next day.

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The following week, it was a pair of brand new, clean, Woolworths ladies panties (boyshort style).  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).  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 3 pairs of brand new underwear, quite possibly from inside her locked apartment!  I could only imagine what would go through her mind when she realized they were missing!  So at 7pm, out I went, 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 this one).  I knocked on every door that had an open window or open door where he could have 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, but 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 a very funny sight to see – a cat 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 5 pairs of brand new underwear!  If it was me, I’d be seriously worried about my underwear going missing from inside my house, with no clue as to how someone had gotten in or how it had gone missing!  I kept the plastic bag of brand new underwear for two weeks, just in case I found the owner.  I never did, and it was eventually added to a load of second-hand clothing that was donated.

As I mentioned earlier, my Catty is a hunter and he will hunt anything that moves … grasshoppers, lizards, butterflies, birds and even your feet (if he’s in the mood)! Being on the rather “festively plump” side, more often than not, it’ll be a near miss when it comes to stalking birds, but he has managed to catch a few. 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 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.

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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 (with 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 paw pads.  How we eventually got it free, I have no idea!  Unfortunately, he did not learn his lesson and this happened again 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, 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. It turns out it was only a harmless bush snake (not poisonous), and yes, it was dead!

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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 the quarantine facility had spoilt him by putting an electric blanket inside his bed!  He was so nice and warm in his cosy little bed that he didn’t want to come home.

We stayed with my hubby’s aunt and uncle for the first few weeks after we arrived and 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 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, you’d swear it was out to eat him!  Well, he heard the noise and in a frantic panic, with super-catty strength, he managed to push the stiff window open 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.  It took a while, but my hubby eventually coaxed 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, 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 (there had been another cat living here before) 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 and far enough away from our bedroom so that we could try to get some sleep.

A loud bang abruptly woke us up at 5am the next morning.  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 was set 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 and reaching in to try and slide the louvres out of the 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!

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Pringles, Catty, Sprinkles, Orange Cat, Sausage, 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.  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.

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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!  Unfortunately, he came pre-named.  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 ever seen Pringles will know that he’s quite a character and immediately knows that if he’s being called “Pringles” instead of “Catty”, that he’s in serious trouble!

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My FurKid was born in February 2007 and the first few weeks of his life were rough.  He was found in the bush on the Bluff (in Durban, South Africa) behind his first adopted family’s house, along with a few of his siblings.  The kitties were only a few weeks old and were all lying next to the dead mommy cat, who they suspected had been poisoned.  The family took pity on the little kitties, taking them home to bottle feed and hand-raise.  Once the kitties were weaned and old enough for new homes, they were given up for adoption, but they chose to keep Pringles.

When he was 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 saw the ad on our work noticeboard.  I asked my hubby nicely if I could please get this kitty and when approval was granted, 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 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 a very groggy, 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, he was used to just doing ‘his business’ in the garden.  He was still very wobbly from the anaesthetic and wouldn’t eat or drink.  I kept waking up every couple of hours during the night to check on him 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.  The following day he used the litter box for the first time and all was well, but this was only the start of the adventure! Image003 We lived in a first floor flat, but 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 flat was.  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 grass below.  I was sitting in the lounge reading when I saw movement out the corner of my eye.  I looked up 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.

I fearfully 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 ended up going into our downstairs neighbours lounge window.  Unfortunately, (or fortunately, depending on which way you look at it) they weren’t home.  It took me another half hour to coax Pringles out of their flat, using catnip and calling him.  I ended up leaving a note in their 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 find one or both them waiting for me in the evening when I got home from work, only to have them ask if they could come feed “Sprinkles” or if I knew where “the Orange Cat” was hiding.

Looking for birds After his flying leap, we soon realized that my Catty was ‘special’.  Not only did he get up to mischief during the day, but he insisted on keeping us up at night! For the first 6 weeks, he woke up us every night, at least 3 to 4 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 and adjusted to his new home.

Things went great for a few months, until just before his second birthday, when he developed colic!  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).  To this day, my Catty is still a hunter, but after suffering for a week with colic, he seems to be more careful.  We would often wake up to find “Tops ‘n Tails” (the head & back legs) of the previous night’s snack in our passage or on our doormat!  At least he’d learnt his lesson and now avoided the things that made him sick.

His “teenage years” presented with severe acne under his chin.  This lasted about 4 months and cleared when I changed his water bowl from a plastic one to a stainless steel one.  But this was not the end of our troubles.  Up next was a bout of bladder infections that led to some serious 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, 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 and out in the garden on laundry days, but the bladder infections and stress from the 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 want to play anymore).  The Vet put him onto anti-depressants – three times a day for two weeks, which meant me driving home during my lunch breaks to go and medicate my Catty!  I don’t think I’ll ever live that one down.  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 violently ‘stabbed’ the needle into Catty’s neck with a soft popping sound, as the needle penetrated the skin.  I soon became used to this rather “violent” application of his injections, but I think my Catty has softened up a bit after many years of being spoilt.

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, only to have him then 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 them.  It’s the easiest way to break up a cat fight without getting scratched to pieces.

This is only the tip of the iceberg … It gets worse, way worse! Read part 2