It began eighteen months or so ago (actually July 2018) when we became the proud parents of Billie and Bobbie, two female cats from the SPCA. Adorable tabbies, they were a "bonded pair" who may or may not have been related. It was quite sad because they had actually been adopted some months earlier but their new owners had returned them.
I have never heard of that before. Who would return such adorable kitties?
Well, we were the lucky ones. So we adopted them and we love them to bits. I am not sure how much they love us back, but you take that chance, as cat owners.
About a year ago we became convinced Billie had a serious skin condition and so took her to the vet.
A few months back, we noticed that Bobbie, the smaller of the two, had lost a bit of weight. In fact, I thought she was looking quite skinny; malnourished, even. We gave her a flea treatment, and also a worm treatment, assuming this was the cause of this sudden malaise. Nothing really altered, so we began to monitor her eating, just in case big Billie was eating all her food.
But no. Bobbie was eating quite well. Yet she definitely had changed a bit in herself. She seemed to be a lot more unsettled, she'd leap in and out of windows, she was terribly energetic, but also slept very well, and while you would think this was nothing to worry about, I was worried. She seemed to miaow a lot more, too, although she didn't appear to be in pain or discomfort at all.
It was odd. But even more was that she was skinny. So skinny. In fact, she was positively starving-looking next to Billie.
A family member thought it sounded like she might be suffering from hyper-thyroidism, and when I was chatting to a cat-loving friend this week, they said Bobbie's symptoms sounded very much like it. They had a cat with it, and it's quite a serious condition.
Blimmin heck, I thought and I rang up the vet and got an appointment for later on that afternoon,
I kept an eye on Bobbie in preparation for the vet visit, and allowed plenty of time to capture her. And when it came time to get her... well. What a fiasco. She ran away. Then a bit later when I nearly got her, she slipped under the fence and couldn't be bribed out even with her favourite treats. She went up on to the garage roof, and would not come down. I got the fam to help (that is, the six foot three family member) but Bobbie was clearly suspicious of all this, and it was agreed. This was hopeless.
If I was a smoker, I'd have had one.
I rang up the vet and said, I'm not going to make it, and they said, we can fit her in in two hours time.
Relieved, I pottered around, but about an hour before we were due to leave, I was informed she had gone up the tree in the back yard.
No worries. I gritted my teeth. It's all good. I had time.
I paced the kitchen, looking out the window. Bobbie was clearly not coming down from that tree, She was high, high up in those branches. Escaping capture. Maybe even planning to live up there.
This was a nightmare.
Time passed, the pacing increased. There was much swearing and panic.
If I was a smoker, I'd have smoked the packet.
But there was still time. I had the keys in the car ready to go. All I needed was Bobbie.
And then, finally, she came inside, because it was getting close to tea time. I grabbed her, locked her up in the carry case, and off we went.
I got to the vet in good time. All the other people in the waiting room were patting their cats, and talking soothing words to them. I didn't bother because Bobbie hated me and no amount of "good kitty" was going to change that although, in hindsight, I may have looked like an actual caring cat owner if I had been all loving towards her, but I can't be bothered faking such things. So I read magazines while she tried to escape from her carry case.
Soon, her name was called, we went into the consultation room, and I told him (that would be the lovely Geoff) why I was there. Bobbie had lost weight, had been acting strangely, and I had diagnosed her as having an over active thyroid.
He laughed (politely). She would be a medical outlier, he said, because that is reserved for older cats.
I felt a bit of a twit, again, but was pretty happy it wasn't the dreaded condition, but was still concerned as to what it was and what he was going to find. The vet weighed her, he checked her out.
Her weight, he said, was nothing to worry about. In fact she was a really good weight, and the perfect weight for her frame. She had some fat on her, actually, but she was just a lean machine.
Bobbie, you beauty, I thought.
Then he asked a few questions about her and he came up with a possible explanation for her strange behaviour and her weight loss. He determined that it could be she was acting a bit oddly because she was defending her territory against other cats.
Indeed, I told him, with excitement, in the past year there have been a couple of cats around which weren't there before. We have chickens, too, so these interloper cats tend to like to observe our chooks.
Many's the time I've run outside and chased off a cat who is eyeing up our birds.
This was all coming together as a plausible explanation.
I told him that she had in fact, just that afternoon, gone up the tree. Clearly to do a reconnoitre of the hood, I thought to myself. Not escaping from me at all.
Two and two was making four and as I gazed at non-hyperthyroid Bobbie, I knew I was looking at a (lean) warrior princess.
But that wasn't all.
Geoff got out a comb, ran it over her a few times and he said, "And she's got fleas."
FLEAS?? I just wanted to faint dead away.
I had a noticed a flea or two, I admitted, but not on her or Billie. For a start, they'd had treatments less than a month ago, and I had flea combed Bobbie a few times that week and found nothing.
Clearly my technique was rubbish because she had fleas, and Geoff the vet had the evidence.
Talk about feeling an incompetent cat owner.
YET AGAIN, oh my golly gosh, I had taken a cat, with a diagnosed-by-Joanne condition, to the vet, only to be told they were in good shape and by the way, they had fleas.
But what great news. Our Bobbie is not sick.
What she is, is the defender of her universe, bounding around and using energy and building muscle as she preserves her territory, defends it against those neighbouring intruders.
What a cat!