Monday, 21 July 2008

Not for the faint hearted!

I had to take Austin to the vet today. Our vets has one of those drop-in surgeries every weekday morning. Of course, true to form Austin was nowhere to be seen! What a pallaver! It's as if they know before you even think it yourself. Spooky or what? Had to resort to all kinds of subterfuge and we needed to be quick as I was running out of time and the back roads up, so we would have to take the busy route through town.

Deciding on a strategy, I wandered up the garden with my cuppa as if I was going to sit in the summerhouse - Austin is very protective and is my guard cat on these occasions, just in case I get attacked by pirates or ravaged by marauding blue tits or something. But not today. He kept his head down. I think he must have realised it was a ruse as I am usually still mooching around in my dressing gown at that time. Something, as far as he was concerned, was not right!

Eventually I gave up, went in and took my shoes off. Good move! He appeared from absolutely nowhere. Within ten seconds he was unceremoniously crammed into his (everso slightly too small) carrier and we were off down to Menai Bridge before he knew what hit him. Now even though my 76 year old mother had been "done" twice for speeding while driving into town, I put my foot down - but did turn my head and smile sweetly at the bridge just in case the North Wales Arrivalive Police Traffic Unit were lurking behind it. (Don't feel they got my best side though). Well we did make it in time, just, and having made such a fuss over getting into the carrier, now he wouldn't come out of it!

The very nice young vet (he looked about 14, not sure he was even shaving yet!) managed to entice Austin out by grabbing him by the scruff. He gave him the once over. So what's the diagnosis? I can tell you're all dying to know.

It appears he's got rampant Ginger-vitis!!!!

Oh yes he has.

I said "Rampant?"

The boy vet said "Yes, his gums are livid".

I said "His gums are livid? I'm FURIOUS! How many times have I told him not to play with that gang of red, rat faced mangy street urchins and now look what's happened!"

Well the boy gave one of us an injection (things were a little unclear at this point, as I was hanging onto the cat for dear life). I did eventually calm down though and we came home. Got to keep an eye on his gums for a week or two, but tonight we are going to sit down and have a heart to heart young Austin and I, about some lifestyle changes one of us is going to have to make.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Blackie the sheep and miscellaneous fleas

I've just managed to dupe Austin into swallowing his six monthly worm pill and am pleasantly surprised to've come out of the encounter relatively unscathed!

But he did rather get "the 'ump" over being de-flea-ed this time. If there was an oscar for cat pouting he would have won for that performance. Oh the betrayal!

What d'you have to go and do that for? What have I ever done to you?

I show him my latest scars.

Well apart from that?

"It's for your own good. You really don't want whole colonies of rampaging insects building conurbations in your coat do you?"

I can deal with it!

The whole of the following day, whenever I turned around, there he was lying like flat-pack cat with his head on his front paws, two reproachful green eyes following my every move, unforgiving, accusing, pained. 

Anyway I'm digressing. Across the road there is a field of sheep. They're quite noisy at times, but to my certain knowledge Austin has not really given them any consideration, except the time when he and Tigger the Tabby were engaged in a spot of internecine carnage with a couple of the Gingers. Poor Austin, who is a home-loving boy, found himself in unfamiliar territory without his passport or visa or indeed, his catnip stash. Once he realised this he made his excuses and left:

Sorry, just realised I have an appointment with my therapist

Blackie is the token "ethnic" in the bunch over there and I have to say is generally accepted within the community. However, she disappeared several months ago before Austin came and we thought she had gone to the great sheepfold in the sky via the dinner menu of The Queen's Head.

Now it appears she's back - or at least ..... ? If it's not her it's a close family member.

Austin monitored the situation very closely from his favourite perch in the upstairs living room window. It is from here he keeps tabs on everything that goes on in the street and oversees it all like some benevolent but remote dictator. On this occasion I could hear muttering and growling wafting from behind the curtain. Having taken a few precautions (chair, whip, full body armour), I took a peek. Poor Blackie! I hoped she wasn't a sensitive soul. If looks could kill! You could feel the malevolent laser beam irradiating from those emerald orbs. She was mutton!

I am hugely distressed to think that he might have racist tendencies, but he is mixed race himself, so what's the deal? Competition?

Happily, after several days of this he apparently satisfied himself that the beast was a benign presence in the neighbourhood and has since paid her scant attention.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

The Food Chain!

When I looked out of my bedroom window into what I fondly call the courtyard (in fact it's a few paving stones and a retaining wall) I saw the two young scallywags paying just a bit too much attention to a large blob of something under the wooden seat. Thinking to myself that noone not even a cat is that interested in a leaf, I nipped out the back door (which is at the side) and approached with stealth from the rear.

I found, to my horror, it was a baby blue tit! It became clear to me very quickly that trying to resuscitate would be a waste of time as its head was separated from its body by about half a paving stone. Now this is not the first time I've interrupted Austin in the act of wilful murder, as I caught him cheerfully playing happy slappy with a shrew a few weeks ago while the tabby cheered from the sidelines. Threat of an asbo and detention in a young offenders institution obviously had no effect then and it was obviously too late now! So I cautioned the main culprit and put him on remand to give me time to organise a fitting burial for the victim. That done I brought the accused before the court to argue his case.

Well, it was a farce to be honest. The prosecuting counsel was powerless in the face of blatant jury nibbling and when the main witness turned tail and pleaded inanity - that's like insanity but without the restraining order - the case fell apart. It all came down in the end to the definition of term "the food chain". To me, it was quite simple. It referred to the queue at Morrison's checkout. Well, apparently not, and now I am a lot wiser with words like heterotrophys and detritivores added to my vocabulary if not my understanding.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

I know everyone says this but ........

...... I'm sure our cat thinks he's a dog. I mean he actually walks to heel for goodness sake! After about eight months of having Austin as part of the clan, I thought he would revert to type - especially as he's "in" with that Tabby, who's not been "done" and is a terrible influence. But no, if anything he's becoming more like a well trained dog - but with an opinion - and I'm his pack leader. So picture the scene first thing in the morning. I let him out of the conservatory and we have a little chat about this 'n that and then I open the door to let him out to the garden to perform his ablutions:

me - go on, off you go
Austin - are you sure you'll be alright?
me - I'm fine
A - errr you don't fancy coming then?
me - not really
A - ok, if you're sure ....
me - yep!

He then strolls outside and sits on the step looking back at me and I say it's all right (again) and retreat back into the kitchen so he feels he's ok to go about the business of the day. Having kept watch over us all night, it's not in his best interests to allow one of his charges to be lost in daylight hours, for he takes his duty as guard cat very seriously indeed.

Well, this is what he likes me to think. In all honesty he's still a bit wary of the furry fiend Big Ginge, so under the guise of guard and protector he tries to encourage me into accompanying him on his daytime forays into the wilderness of outside. Even when he's safely inside he still prefers me to "ride shotgun" when he's eating!

I have had several cats over the years, but not until now have I had one that always comes when called, no matter where he is or what he's doing! I'm so surprised at this so have put it to the test and yep, this cat obviously feels that he is obliged to obey his mistress's voice. He doesn't seem to realise that as he is a cat he actually has a choice! So he might be in the middle of disembowelling a field mouse or engaging in gang warfare, or even just napping under the pieris. As soon as I call him, he comes. It is not without complaint though. If he is particularly engrossed in what he is doing a few gardens over I can hear him moaning all the way. Meoweoweoweowow! Then he stops just outside the door to check I haven't called him by mistake and had meant to engage the neighbour in conversation.

me - time to come in now
Austin - why? we were having a great time playing snail football over at Bertie's
me - sorry to spoil it, but it's bed time
A - Oh! just 5 minutes more?
me - nope!
A - ok

In he comes, tail flexed into its habitual question mark shape. The usual bedtime ritual is enacted. He makes big deal of eating one mouthful of the latest BOGOF from Morrisons. I go and finish watching the news. He comes in, does a quick spit 'n lick to get rid of any extraneous comestible. He slinks onto the seat in the window, nods off and then drops off. As soon as he hears the click of the tv going off he is immediately galvanised into action, leaping round the back to see where Trevor McDonald has vanished to and then round the front just in time to be clonked on the head by the dvd tray as it opens to regurgitate a dvd. He then yawns and stretches meaningfully, edging towards the kitchen, meowing as he goes:

A - it's time for bed
me - oh all right then

.... as I trail behind him like some indentured servant. And then if I tarry too long turning out lights etc, he gives an impatient flick of his tail and sort of "tisk" sound:

"come on, you're two minutes behind schedule!"

As I said, I'm the pack leader! 

Now about Tigger the tabby. To be sure I don't know what to do. Is he a stray or is he just a gad about? I've asked around, but no one seems to know him. I could sneak him down to the vets for a quick scan for a tag. He really needs to be "seen to" before he gets much older. He also needs defleaing and deworming before we can really let him in. He's friendly though and he and Austin squabble quite contentedly together. And he's not picky about eating leftovers ... or anything really. They look so sweet sitting on the wall with their tails curled around, like a couple of mismatched bookends.