Injury to felines

We had a bit of an adventure yesterday when we found an injured cat in our garage.

After I got home last night I looked out of the kitchen window and spotted a grey and white cat with its collar hooked under its armpit, something that happens to our cats occasionally and severely hampers their movement. I dashed outside and saw its tail disappear into our garage through a hole in the door (must get that fixed!) Janet and I found the cat cowering at the back of the garage behind the lawnmower, and it quickly became clear that it was in a bad way. The collar was a nasty red plastic one and it had rubbed the skin raw under the leg, removing all the fur in a large area which was red and evil-looking. The poor thing must have been in agony.

Intrepidly donning a pair of chunky gardening gloves I managed to grab the hissing beast and desperately tried to remove the collar while it struggled and bit me frantically through the gloves (which proved fairly useless at resisting cat fangs). Finally Janet cut the collar off with scissors, at which point the cat settled down a bit and we managed to get it into one of our cat boxes.

Then we rang around every local vet we could find, all of which were shut. One answerphone directed me to a 24 hours vet helpline, which in turn sent me to the RSPCA, who gave me a log number and told me to, er, find a local vet. Finally we got one that was open til 7 pm and kindly agreed to stay open long enough for me to get there with the injured cat. The RSPCA log number means the vet can claim £60 + VAT, and ring if they need to ask for more money. According to the RSPCA this makes for much more cooperative vets!

Then I came home, slathered my bloodied finger in germolene, and Janet did some “Injured Cat Found” posters which we taped-up in nearby streets, pub and shop. I was still a bit worried to be honest. The wound looked like it was many hours or days old, and although the Vets took the cat in last night they couldn’t treat it properly til this morning. Also the cat could have been miles from home and the owner might never be found.

Thankfully Janet took a call today from someone who saw our poster and recognised the description, and we’ve just had a call from the vets. The owner has collected the cat, Megan, and it should make a slow but full recovery. Apparently it’s been missing since July, when it was being looked after by a friend of the owners during a holiday, and went missing. (Oh the guilt that friend must have felt!) They haven’t seen it since.

All told that put paid to most of last night and I have a sore finger for my troubles. Cats mouths aren’t the most hygienic things so I’m keeping an eye on the finger but so far it doesn’t seem infected.

Phew. I’m very relieved, and the owner has passed on their thanks. As Janet says, we’d want someone to do that for our cats, so it’s only fair we do it too.

All creatures alive and dead

Had a gorgeously hot and sunny couple of days here, which in the last couple of hours has suddenly become that deep gloom that signals either a solar eclipse or a heavy rain shower. Unsurprisingly, it turned out to be the latter.

Presumably this is because our cats have begun sacrificing mice to appease the Great Sky God. For some weeks now Pixie has been intermittently trotting into the house just after dusk with a tiny grey mouse clamped proudly between her teeth. I, in turn, have been rescuing said mouse, checking that it appears uninjured, and releasing it back into the wild where it runs off to forage happily (until its next impromptu trip to our hall carpet).

Last night however I was summoned to the hall by Pixie’s plaintive cries, and discovered her patting her pet mouse indignantly. It had rudely stopped moving, probably on account of the gaping hole in its side. Sad. Even later last night I went into the kitchen to find our other cat, Charcoal, excitedly patting yet another small rodent in the hopes that it would rise from the dead and do a bit more scampering. This one had no injuries, but was just as deceased. Clearly it’s time to keep the cats in of an evening, in order to spare the local mouse community any further atrocities.

On a positive wildlife note our swifts are once again nesting in the eaves of our house. Every so often they launch from the rafters in a high-speed parabolic curve and whoosh past your ear.

We also went for a nice walk in the local park on Saturday, which has some really big old trees, and came across a nesting pair of woodpeckers (possibly the same ones that visit our garden, but just as possibly a different pair). They were scouring the bark of an Ash tree, which had three neat circular holes drilled into its trunk. I’ve never seen an actual hole made by a woodpecker, so that was quite cool. I’m still amazed that a bird can drill-out such a large space. We could hear the near-constant twittering of what we assume were woodpecker chicks coming from the general direction of the holes.

Which reminds me – Springwatch starts again tonight. Bill Oddie has been replaced by Chris Packham, in what is almost certainly an improvement. I remember Chris from kid’s TV, when he had the same hairdo as Limahl from Kajagoogoo.

Easter

Had a great Easter weekend involving no (count it) no work, and lots of relaxing. We had friends over for most of the weekend which was fun.

We did a pseudo-BBQ on Saturday (cooked indoors, eaten outdoors to ensure that Janet didn’t get any undercooked meat) which was lovely. We did some potato and tomato ‘curry’ as a side dish which in no sense is a curry involving only some chopped potatoes, tomatoes and onions fried with mustard seeds, turmeric and coriander. Very nice, very mild.

Then on Sunday the sky was blue and the sun was hot so we pottered around the garden fixing and weeding things while Janet’s brother carved a new paddle for his canoe. The cats helped, of course. Here’s Charcoal helping:

More helping here. Pixie helped too, but in a more sedentary way.

On Saturday night we watched Doctor Who (what I thought), which included a nice shout out to Tom Baker’s first story ‘Robot’, but was otherwise slightly dull.

On Sunday we also watched Skellig on Sky, in which John Simm continued to be as great as he is in everything not called Doctor Who. I was expecting something slightly twee and cosy, which it was in places, but mostly it was surprisingly honest, real and edgy for a kids drama. A bit low key and moody, but otherwise quite interesting. It’s possible that the moral is to talk to scabby-looking strangers, but I’ll let that pass…

It’s a good job we had the nice weekend because the weather has been relentlessly foggy ever since. Yesterday with sea fret (but we had a nice pub lunch anyway). Today with full-on fog and low cloud extending well inland. Chilly, dank, and gloomy. But at least we had a lovely Easter.

Not enough room to swing a cat

Space Age! Our old hot water tankI do love our old Space Age hot water tank shorn of its cladding. Very steampunk.

We’re having our central heating system completely replaced with a new boiler and all new radiators, which involves three days of British Gas engineers under the floor and in and around the house. I’ve taken holiday and am house-sitting, but unfortunately I’m also having to work. I spent most of yesterday holed up in the bedroom shortlisting CVs for an upcoming vacancy. (I was even in work for ten minutes first thing this morning.) This is becoming increasingly impractical since the engineers are flitting from radiator to radiator and no room in the house is safe! I can’t get moved.

They even needed the power off earlier. No computer! I know.

The cats don’t know what to make of it. It turns out that once you pull up some floor boards there’s a dusty crawl space at least a metre deep under our ground floor, and the idea of one of the cats slithering under there doesn’t bear thinking about. They’d never be seen again. Or if they were, I can only imagine the cobweb-strewn Poe-like apparition that would claw its way back into the light.

Yesterday we locked them out of the house, which was fine until it started to drizzle. When the Ringtons tea salesman came to the door Pixie seized the opportunity to dash inside like an indignant bullet train. Naturally she made a bee line for the hole in the floor, and only the presence of a man working inside said hole prevented disaster. Many annoyed mrr-OWWg noises when I scooped her up.

Today we’ve got them both shut in the bedroom. Unlike Pixie, for whom all this is just a terrible affront to her sovereign feline rights, Charcoal is actively terrified of the engineers and either slinks into a corner with her head near the floor or panics and dashes frantically from room to room (often back and forth between the same two rooms repeatedly) seeking an escape. Poor thing.

By ‘eck

By ‘eck, it’s bloody freezing outside. We just went for a walk in our local park to kick through the Autumn leaves, and my ears are now cold enough to conduct high energy physics experiments. It was very pretty though. It would have been even prettier with a dusting of snow, but despite some nasty sleet yesterday the Met Office have otherwise failed to deliver on their promise of heavy snow this weekend. I try not to meddle in the affairs of the Met Office, for they are subtle and quick to anger.

Pixie was found at the bottom of the bed this morning in a bemused state with her cat collar hooked under one armpit. Quite how she got onto the bed while hobbled is anyone’s guess. I dutifully rescued her, and she seems none the worse for wear. Our other cat Charcoal has one of those break-away collars, but Pixie still has the elasticated kind which was barely long enough at full stretch to cope with this latest escapade. We may have to remedy that. Also at some point I’d like to see documentary footage of a cat inserting its leg under its collar as it appears to both violate the known laws of physics and constitute an impressive stage act.

I haven’t been posting or commenting much this week as lots of busy Things are going on, but I’m still here, honest. Now that we’re back in the warm my main plan for the weekend is to do some Christmas shopping. I know it’s a few weeks yet, but this time last year we’d nearly finished. This year we’ve barely begun. We’ve opted not to take the week before Christmas off as holiday this year, but take the week after New Year off instead. Working in HE we’re fortunate to get the Christmas and New Year period off anyway, so with an extra week that’ll add up to a good long break. Our first in quite a while.

The News and Weather

We’ve been intermittently pummelled by hailstones this afternoon. What the weather forecasters euphemistically refer to as “wintry showers”, but in practice are more like the immediate aftermath of making a prank phone call to Odin. I’ve been known to enjoy some proper snow and ice in my time, but driving sheets of hailstones that quickly melt into icy puddles can’t be on anyone’s list of favourite weather. I was thinking this even before our cat Charcoal entered through the cat flap at Mach 3, drenched from head to toe, freezing cold and squeaking indignantly. She’s much happier (and warmer) now.

Meanwhile the Russell Brand/Jonathan Ross1 story climbs to new depths with “emergency crisis talks” at the BBC, and journalists charging after BBC executives in the street shouting “Do we know who’s to blame yet?” (Those were the exact words). News 24 have belatedly starting asking whether this mob-mentality is all a bit much, but as far as I can tell this has only recently occurred to them and they’re mainly using it as a bonus talking point in interviews. In any case I’m going to have to join the mob now, because otherwise I’ll find myself calling Noel Gallagher rightheaded, and then the world will end.

I also caught a bit of Obama speechifying on the campaign trail on News 24. That man may or may not be from Krypton, but he certainly knows how to make speeches. Sometimes I do wonder whether (assuming he wins the election) the weight of expectations on his shoulders is so impossibly huge that we’re in for a New Labour-style backlash when he doesn’t fix EVERYthing. I also hope there’s some real substance behind the fervour. Mainly I hope we get to find out.

Lastly, and on behalf of my wife, I would just like to say ZOMGSharpe!!!111.


1 In the “you can’t make it up” category, Jonathan Ross currently has a book out entitled Why Do I Say These Things?.

EDIT: Now the controller of Radio 2 has resigned.