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Keeping daddy fit

Bonnie has invented a new game. Or rather, she has added a new twist to a game I invented, a deed I now bitterly regret.

The game I invented was very simple. It involved me taking a rubber ball, putting it somewhere on the monster scratching post, and Bonnie racing up to retrieve it.

Bonnie’s twist is both elegant in its simplicity, and fiendish in its pure, malevolent evil. Now, having retrieved the ball, she races downstairs with it, and then waits patiently at the bottom of the stairs for me to trudge down and retrieve it from her claws, and then to trudge back upstairs again, where Bonnie will race to be first up the scratching post.

Only when she leaves the ball upstairs and I am gasping for breath and clutching at my chest is the game over. But at least it keeps her quiet for the rest of the day.

Photograph of cats sleeping on sofa (32kB)

In sickness and in health

It can be worrying, having young creatures. Cats are especially worrying because they are ridiculously easy to poison by accident, and also because they are masters at hiding symptoms of illness. A cat can be ill for days before you notice.

So we were a bit concerned for Bonnie, who didn’t look too good this morning. She wasn’t hungry, and instead came at sat quietly on my lap. By mid-morning it was clear she wasn’t well at all: she was lethargic and her fur was dull and staring. Those symptoms could mean anything, from general under-the-weather-ness all the way to something horribly and swiftly fatal. And of course, she’d timed this perfectly for the weekend.

On the other hand, she didn’t have diarrhoea, her eyes looked fine, she wasn’t coughing or retching and she was breathing normally. Were we going to have a distressingly (and expensively) diseased cat on our hands, or was this a minor ailment?

Happily, it turned out to be a minor ailment. Just a few short hours later, Bonnie seems to have slept whatever it was off, and is now back to her normal, playful self; and has also had a good meal. Relief all around.

And the cats have been formally introduced to most of the rest of the house, so it’s been an exciting day for them for that reason too. At the moment, they’re still not used to everything and are still very careful, and they’re still not convinced that we’re not going to pick them up and shut them back in upstairs, but so far, so good. By this evening, I expect their confidence will be such that chaos will ensue, but let’s wait and see. For now, they’re exploring things, and Cylde in particular has proven himself to be very efficient at finding all those cobwebs we never knew existed.

The big nasty man with the thermometer

So, Bonnie and Clyde, now about eleven weeks old, went for their first visit to the vet. And survived.

It’s important to have pets immunized, and this first vaccination was for feline distemper, cat common cold, respiratory disease and chlamydophila felis. There’ll be boosters and other vaccinations later, but some of these diseases are nasty and need to be prevented. The harmless-sounding cat cold, or “feline viral rhinotracheitis” to give it its medical name, can, in young cats, damage the mucus membranes leaving the animal very susceptible to future infection. One form of respiratory disease (“virulent systemic feline calicivirus”) has a mortality rate of two in three.

So we took the poor, unsuspecting creatures to the vet, which is a ten-minute drive from here — an eternity when they're yelling their lungs out. And incidentally, here’s a tip: don’t put cats’ carrying boxes away when not in use. Leave them out, encourage your cats to see them as normal, and they won’t panic and hide every time you go looking for them.

It was easy enough to get them in their boxes, although it may not be quite so easy a second time. They were at first rather bemused as we carried them downstairs, outside and into the car, but as soon as we got going and things were noisy and bumpy and nothing very interesting was happening, the cat chorus began. But that’s something you have to live through, although you have to have a heart of stone not to be moved to pity by the wailing.

The wailing stopped when the car stopped, and Bonnie and Clyde looked on with nervous interest as new and unfamiliar sights paraded past their boxes. One at a time, Bonnie first, they were freed from their boxes, poked and prodded and then returned.

It wasn’t bad at first. Bonnie didn’t particularly enjoy having her ears peered into, but bore the indignity with fortitude. The thermometer, however, was a nasty surprise and she didn’t take that without a struggle. The actual injection went almost unnoticed.

While Bonnie had climbed out of her box alone to investigate her new surroundings (and then wished she hadn’t), Clyde had to be lifted out, but then submitted himself to medical examination with much more patience.

And suddenly it was all over, my wife was several euros poorer and we were back in the car, accompanied by variations on the theme of “meow”. Which again stopped when the car stopped, and we could pinpoint the exact moment they realised where they were. They emerged from their boxes purring, bore us no malice at all and went to sleep after all the excitement.

All in all, not a horrible experience.

The scratching post

I should probably have a “Cats” category. But I think this video is going to be one of my personal favourites, so it’s for that reason I’m posting in here.

In other news, it’s raining.

The next viral video?

The story behind this video is simply told. Bonnie was sitting on my desk (on my appointments calendar, as you can see) and, I thought at first, trying to chew the function keys off. Eventually it dawned on me that she was actually grooming my keyboard for some insane reason. Here at last was my dream come true: the opportunity to make a viral video.

Sadly, the Flip Cam that came to hand has such a tiny screen that I didn’t realise the video was out of focus (in fact, the only thing in focus is my appointments calendar), but that probably doesn’t matter.

Fame and fortune, here I come. Probably.