Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Potted Cats.

Today, I went to check out my friends' holiday home, an old finca in the Spanish campo.  Look what I found growing in one of the plant pots . . .
This feral cat ran away when she saw me, but look what she left behind in the pot . . .
She seems to be doing a good job; the garden is well fenced in and safe, the pot is on it's side so provides good shelter, and the compost is nice and warm!  She wasn't taking any chances and came and took the gingery kitten away whilst I wasn't looking!
She's taking good care of her babies.

NB: Photos taken with zoom from a good distance away.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Hedgehog has a bath.

I was being driven mad by a squeaky hedgehog toy this morning; so was Clover, it's her toy. Last night someone, Nutmeg we think, did a little wee on Hedgehog who was on some scrunched brown paper of Lily's. Clover and Lily had both been chasing Nutmeg, so we think she was getting her own back.

Seeing as Hedgehog is one of Clover's favourite toys, I decided to wash and disinfect him rather than throw him out. If you have a squeaky hedgehog of your own, don't wash it.

I thought he had a rattle inside, but it was a battery thingy - once it got wet, it didn't stop squeaking! He was out on the balcony overnight, but I couldn't leave him there today, the neighbours might think I was torturing a sparrow or something!

The noise was driving the cats mad, so I took him to work and left him in the sun on the car dashboard, hoping the squeaking would stop when he dried out. It drove me made in the car going to work, and was still chirruping all the way home. I've had to operate . . .

Unfortunately, Hedgehog has lost his squeak, but otherwise is doing well.  He does have rather a large scar, but it's somewhere that won't show . . .

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Clover - Not by the hair of my chinny, chin, chin!

Clover took pity on me this afternoon . . . I didn't have enough cat fluff on me, so she sat on my lap and remedied the situation.

Nutmeg asks for a Salmon Stick.

Nutmeg has an allergy, but we don't know what to. The vet is reluctant to do blood allergy tests because it would involve extracting 5ml blood, quite a bit for a cat, and the tests may well not give a positive result if what she is allergic to isn't tested for.

We don't use chemicals such as floor cleaners, polishes, etc, around the home, or detergents when washing the cat bedding, or have plants around that she could nibble, and we've tried different cat foods, etc, etc. We have been through everything we can think of, but can't determine the cause.

Her symptoms are that she nibbles the fur on her forearms leaving bald patches and to start with, when severe, she had itchy spots between her eyebrows and ears.

For this allergy, she has to have a quarter or a half steroid tablet a day, depending on how itchy she is. If she's not itchy, she doesn't have to have a tablet. Her fur has grown back fairly well, but we do have to keep an eye on her.

The easiest way we have found to administer tablets to cats is inside part of a soft salmon stick treat. It's a bit labour intensive:

•  Break 1cm off end of soft salmon stick treat.
•  With pointy end of half a toothpick make hollow in end of soft salmon stick treat, being careful not to go all the way through.
•  With blunt end of half toothpick, push tablet into newly made hollow in soft salmon stick treat.
•  Squidge end of soft salmon stick treat together with fingers to conceal tablet.
•  Excite cat at the prospect of soft salmon stick treats, then administer drugged soft salmon stick treat, followed rapidly by further soft salmon stick treats, so cat's mind is on next soft salmon stick treat waving in front of his/her face rather than oddly flavoured soft salmon stick treat  currently being swallowed.

NB:  This method fails if your cat does not like soft salmon stick treats.

For Nutmeg, this process occurs every evening around 9pm, after we've had supper and I've washed up. Everyone gets treats, whether she has to have a tablet or not.  When I come in from the kitchen, Nutmeg starts reminding me that it's treat time . . .

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Beefer, Lily's Dad.

Past Loves:  Beefer. by Cooperscats Spain
Past Loves: Beefer., a photo by Cooperscats Spain on Flickr.

Beefer arrived in the car park one day in 2009, crying for food, looking quite skeletal and rough. We fed him biscuits every day, thinking he was on his last legs and that we could make his last days a little easier for him. He gradually started to stay around rather than running off and keeping his distance, until he was waiting for us with head butts every day.  He was a feral tomcat, wild at heart, and managed to keep the neighbouring toms away from his girls.  There are several Beefer-lookalikes living wild in the Campo.

One day, he looked at his biscuits, tried to eat them, then screamed and clawed at me, then followed me, lashing out at me. We felt awful when we realised he hadn't been able to eat for days because his teeth/gums were so painful; the other strays had been eating his biscuits, not him.  He was telling me off, he couldn't understand why I was putting all this lovely food down that was hurting him.

From then on, we devised a method of feeding him one large tin of cat food whizzed with half a tin of water into a liquid, split into two meals a day. He could lap it up and it didn't hurt him. He became healthier and filled out a bit, got a glossy coat, especially after topical worm and flea treatments.

One Sunday in January 2011 was the last time we saw Beefer.

If we hadn't kept him going, we wouldn't have the Lovely Lily. Lily has so many of his features, she couldn't be anyone else's.

He was a fine cat indeed.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Lily's tale . . .

In October 2010 I found Lily sitting in the middle of the drive down to our underground carpark, just about to be run over, because she didn't move when a woman in a car beeped her out of the way.  I ran around for a while like a headless chicken as there was a much bigger kitten about, who ran off, and her mum, hovering in the distance.  She was barely moving, her eyes were oozing pus, she was starving to death.

I made a few fruitless phone calls, and in the end shoved her in my shopping bag and drove to the vet, waited for him to arrive. The veterinary nurse starting cleaning Lily up, and gasped when she realised the right eye socket was full of pus, with no eye in it.  I asked the vet if he thought it would be kinder to put her to sleep as she was in such a state, but he said he was prepared to keep her for a few days to see how she got on. We love that man.

That was on a Tuesday morning, and we brought her home on the Friday night.  Her left eye had also been affected by Feline Herpes Virus (FHV) and was ulcerated, but this has healed through continued treatment, although the eye's surface is scarred and the eye itself is blind.  The FHV has also led to respiratory problems, so Lily has irregular, often shallow, breathing.

The disabilities don't hold her back, she is a regular kitten, bombing about, playing with and chasing Clover and Nutmeg. We don't make many concessions to her blindness, but we are careful not to move furniture around or leave things on the floor for her to run into, and occasionally she needs a helping hand down when she's been too adventurous with her climbing!

Update: 31 March 2012: Because Lily's breathing is so much better these days, she had a chest X-ray to see if her lungs were good enough for her to undergo a spaying operation. The X-ray revealed her lungs are fine, but her heart is too small (the size of a 1kg cat, and she is 3.2kg), and she has an concave sternum. So, she will continue to have hormone injections to prevent the risk of pregnancy and reduce the frequency of her seasons. And she will remain our beautiful, perfect Lily.

Clover's tale . . .

Clover, in repose. by Cooperscats Spain
Clover, in repose. a photo by Cooperscats Spain on Flickr.

Clover was just 21 days old when I found her in April 2006.  I was out for a walk around the village, passing down a shortcut alley, and I found a toddler trying to wrench a little grey ball of fluff of her jumper.  Clover was holding on for dear life, literally.  I managed to detach her and asked the child where her mother was.  I asked if it was her kitten, and she just said it had been lying by her gates all day, her husband nearly ran it over at lunchtime, take it. By now, it was about 6 pm. I cradled Clover in an old cloth I cadged off the woman and rushed her home, got Mr C to drive us to the vet  who gave us baby cat milk powder to feed her, but didn't expect her to last the night as she was so weak and hungry.  

That little cat scoffed for her life. We got her all snugged up in the guest bathroom so we could leave her in peace and away from the curious Bailey and Nutmeg. It was quite traumatic opening that door the next morning, but she has thrived. She gradually turned black, with a few white hairs, but is a beautiful cat, although a little grumpy sometimes!

Nutmeg's tale . . .

Yin and Yang. by Cooperscats Spain
Yin and Yang. a photo by Cooperscats Spain on Flickr.

Nutmeg and her brother, Bailey, were from a litter that someone had picked up from bins in Elche in September 2004.  Before we got to the fosterers' house, Mr C said he definitely didn't want a boy. As soon as he saw Bailey (who they'd named Minerva, thinking he was a girl), he said 'I want that one'.  I saw Nutmeg, with her little stumpy tail, and fell in love.  She'd be named Spike.

Apparently, it is common for tricolour female cats here to have stumpy tails, and there certainly lots of them about, so it was genetic rather than something nasty happening to her.

Bailey never was the same after having been mistaken for a girl in his formative months, he was always a bit fussy and girly. He was named Bailey because his tummy was the colour of Baileys liqueur, and Nutmeg because she was the colours of nutmeg grated over a rice pudding.

Sadly, we lost Bailey on 23 December 2010, to an undetected heart defect. He took a piece of all of our hearts with him.

Nutmeg is our most cuddly and talkative girl, and she's certainly not afraid to ask for what she wants!

My Digital Portrait of Lily, Clover and Nutmeg, February 2011.

Avatar 3 cats. by Cooperscats Spain
Avatar 3 cats. a photo by Cooperscats Spain on Flickr.