Tag Archives: Cats

The Doorstep Angel

1 May

You know those stories where a couple lets a wayfarer stay the night and they kill their only goat to feed them, and then the wayfarer turns out to be a wish-granting angel? That happened to us. Only, we didn’t have a goat and anyway, she’s vegetarian and any goat living here would be part of the family. Bunty killed and stuffed a marrow instead.

We had been feeling fraught. I was behind with my studies, Bunty with his work. The house was a tip. The guinea pigs were still living indoors because we hadn’t had time to fix up their summer housing. Everything was getting on top of us and I had a deadline coming up for an assignment which required a familiarity with Excel – a programme I have never used. Then there was a knock on the door.

A smiling girl stood on our doorstep with a rucksack on her back. She asked if she might stay the night. Readers will know that our door is open to every creature needing a bed for the night, so, of course, we said yes. The girl’s name was Seraph. A Christian friend has remarked that you can’t get a bigger clue-by-four than that.

Over the marrow, it transpired that Seraph was familiar with Excel, and so after enthusiastically cleaning out the guinea pigs’ tower for us, she spent the evening walking me through the steps needed to produce graphs from tables. It was a huge relief. The cats showed their approval by standing on her.

A week later, she is still here. She has fixed up the animal housing,

Bathed the guinea pigs and released them into their new homes in the garden,

Dismantled and spray-cleaned the guinea pig tower,

Cleaned the house, told us stories, cheered us up, and gave us enough free time and energy to get out of the house and go sightseeing.

It’s mighty generous of this God fellow to bless us godless atheists like this. Our Doorstep Angel is looking for a job, and when she finds one, she will move on and leave us. We wish her well… and we are thinking of starting an angel sanctuary.


Closing Time at the Knocking Shop

19 Jan

Our attempt at animal psychology failed.  The house exploded in an orgiastic tumult of inter-species sex, dishevelled upholstery, startled cats, and guinea pig semen actually in the rabbit’s eye. Colin’s zeal for availing himself of the wrong end of the rabbit deposed him from his position as King of the House: we had to lock him in the tower.

Colin (top) moping

Whilst deciding what to do about Colin in the long run, I booked Broccles in for neutering, with the most experienced rabbit surgeon available. Rabbit anaesthesia is complicated, so I fretted, but Broccles is at the optimum age for everything to go right. He also has a profound capacity for bouncing back swiftly from illness and injury. I left him at the surgery with a note to the surgeon:

  • Blind in right eye – has had problems in the past. Please check it is still okay before proceeding.
  • Crusty masses on right side of face – guinea pig semen! Very sorry – I was unable to remove it all.
  • My heart is in my throat about this operation. Please take care of him. (I know you will anyway, but still.)

The surgeon phoned us as Broccles was coming round, to report that the operation had gone smoothly. I collected him from the nurse in the evening, once the surgery was satisfied that he would be fine.  Broadleys Veterinary Hospital provides the same level of care to pets as a human hospital does for humans.

The nurse greeted me effusively. “Everythingwentwell Broccleswillbefine he’sstillabitgroggybutbrighterthanmostrabbitsareaftersurgery.”

I made a beeline for the pet carrier.

“There’ssomethingImusttellyou Ifeelsoguilty alittlepieceofhiseargotsnippedoff itlooksworsethanitis I’msosorry,ithappenedwhilehewasasleepthankgoodnessI’msorry.”

As she was talking, I was removing the pet carrier door. I wanted to let Broccles know I was there and reconnect with him.

“Hello, bunny,” I murmured, and saw his ears twitch in recognition. He looked inclined to stay in there, though. The nurse pulled him out and showed me his ear. A piece the size of a thumbnail clipping had been sliced from the edge of a shaved area. It looked sore.

“Ithappenedwhenwewerepreparinghisearforthecannula it’ssuchasmallarea theveinsaresosmall ithappensveryoftenbutI’msosorry Ifeelsobad he’snowmissingtwotesticles.”

She lifted him up to show me the surgery wound. It was very small and neat: he had had keyhole surgery. She placed him back in the carrier and we discussed aftercare with a lot of sorries and some testicles thrown in. I was thinking mainly about getting Broccles home and settled, so at one point I interrupted with a distracted  “it’s all right”, to ask a question. She visibly relaxed, and began to speak at a normal speed. I suddenly clocked that she had been seeking reassurance that I wouldn’t flip out. I had left such an earnest note with the surgeon. Poor nursey!

And we now know how Pochi’s ear lost its missing piece. When neutering small animals, Broadleys attach a fluid feed to the ear. Preparing the area for the needle is tricky, but worth it for the extra life support the animal has under sedation. Most vet surgeries don’t include this.

Pochi’s ear, Broccles’s ear

Once home, Broccles holed up under a chair in the bedroom, near the heater. The cats visited him periodically, to sniff him all over, which he seemed to appreciate. They were unusually gentle and subdued around him. Perhaps his scent reminded them of their own surgery years before.

After a night’s sleep, he was back to his ebullient self – only, he was using his litter tray and wasn’t giving Pochi the Heimlich manoeuvre every five minutes. Colin is next on the agenda for a trip to the vet. Perhaps soon we will be able to open our door to visitors without shame.

The Wrong Trousers

27 Dec

As the sun was setting on Christmas Day, Bunty and I took the long drive through the hills to his mother’s cottage. It is always a beautiful journey, and this was no exception. The twilight allowed us to still see the darkening mountains and forests, but enhanced the fairy lights on the eaves and trees of houses that we passed.

There was no snow, but it had been raining solidly, and what had once been fields were now lochs. A stream had broken free of its bank and plunged across the long winding lane that was the last leg of our journey, and we forded it with difficulty. A deer watched us from the woods, its eyes glowing in the headlights.

The cottage windows were all lit up, a beacon in the wilderness. We could hear Pipkin the haggis hound barking her welcome as we got out of the car. The combination of smooth grass over a sheet of rainwater had created a skating rink effect, and as I slammed my door shut I careened forward across the lawn then fell backward into a pool. My lovely Christmas clothes were drenched.

I had to peel off several layers, and hang them up to dry. Bunty’s mother handed me an old pair of tracksuit bottoms to cover my legs, and sat us by the fire with mince pies and hot mugs of tea. Pipkin and her cat Mewla immediately cosied up to me, because they know I am a soft touch. Pipkin is normally as terrified of the fire as she is of sheep, but she overcame it for the sake of my company; this flattered me.

Flambeau is not scared of the fire at all. He spent the evening sprawled in front of it.

He made sure the flames heated him evenly all over, holding his various poses for five or six minutes at a time.

Mewla was not so tolerant of the heat, and after a while she retired to her favourite shelf to cool down.

After the exchanging of gifts, the pulling of crackers and wearing of paper crowns over a roast dinner, and drinks, and warm conversation with Bunty’s mother and brother, my Christmas clothes were dry. But not before all of the photos of me had been taken, in the wrong trousers.