Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Kittens off colour

It has been a funny old few days – and there are substantial parts of recent days that I have no desire ever to repeat.

Thursday morning dawned bright and clear – and after getting ready for work, I popped the kittens into the cat basket to nip to the vet for their post-operation check. The night before, we'd spotted that Loki had been trying to chew her stitches, so fully expected her to arrive home with one of those 'collars' on that would stop her doing just that.

But the diagnosis was that both Loki and Otto had picked up infections in the wounds where their surgery had taken place – and indeed, Otto's was worse.

They had antibiotic jabs and then both had those conical collars popped over their protesting heads. They were not best impressed.

When I got them home, I called into work and had a chat with my boss. Since I was also under orders to bathe their wounds twice daily, it seemed coherent to take the remaining days of the week off. This was a lot easier because we were in one of our quietest periods.

You can't laugh at cats, of course. But it was tempting, watching Loki try to adapt to the cone on her head. Cats use their whiskers to tell them a great deal about distance, and with those cut off from the rest of the world, it was obviously not as easy to move around.

Otto, however, didn't want to move at all, but simply to curl up on the sofa next to me. Later, I managed to encourage her to eat, but she was hardly enthused.

Not that eating was much easier than moving around, as the plastic tended to butt up against the bowl whenever they tried to reach meat or biscuits. I spent part of the day helping them with that – and similarly helping them when they wanted to go to the litter tray.

By Friday, Loki had perked up, but Otto was not better. I phoned the vet, talked to an assistant, and was given reassuring words – but also told that, if I was still concerned, the surgery would be open that evening. At 4pm, having wavered between: 'don't be an hysteric, it'll be fine' and 'I'll never forgive myself if I don't take her' for hours, I phoned a cab.

We arrived at the surgery a few minutes after it opened at 5pm and, since someone had just cancelled an appointment, we had no time to wait. I didn't care whether I was over-reacting – I wanted to be absolutely on the safe side.

The vet – not the same one (although they're all Antipodeans) – decided very quickly that I had done the right thing. She wasn't any worse – but she wasn't any better. He checked her weight – she hadn't lost any in the intervening 30 hours, which was good – and then gave her another antibiotic jab, followed by an anti-inflammatory injection, and handed me antibiotic tablets for two doses a day for six days, with a reminder on bathing with a strongly concentrated saline solution.

I had, thankfully, trusted my instincts and done the right thing – particularly since it was a bank holiday weekend.

Later that night, she started sitting up and paying a bit more attention to the world. By Saturday evening – The Other Half had done watching duty while I'd gone to Manchester for a match – she was properly perky again. Indeed, it became clear over the last two days that both of them were brighter than they'd been for a month or so, since puberty had started and they'd begun dipping in and out of heat. It was back to play fighting with us and bouncing around – albeit with coned heads that see them both trotting around with rocking heads, like those little bobbing dog toys on the back shelves of cars.

I had had a moment or two of real fear: but everything seems to be okay now. They can't go into the garden until their stitches are out and their collars off – that'll be next week, I think – but that's a sensible precaution. Otto is taking her tablets really easily – not least because she's been having them disguised in a little bit of French pate each time, and she seems to approve deeply of such a meaty treat.

People might dismiss them as 'pets' and say that they're 'only animals', but that is to totally misunderstand and underestimate a relationship. Seeing them both back in such bubbly and bouncy form is a real joy – just one of the pleasures of the relationship that has developed with us. Although knowing that all Otto wanted when she wasn't feeling good was to be with me, touching me, was also intensely moving. And now she can jump around again – including right into my arms.