Take not for granted !

To my great relief, Willow has just arrived beside me to say that I am not on her shit list! I was very much afraid I might be after I sent her and two others off to the vet this morning.

Patches was less than thrilled at being captured and imprisoned! She is very timid.

When she was very young she was diagnosed with patellar luxation in both her back legs, so she had two big surgeries. I am sure it was traumatic for her.

But it made it possible for her to have a life with us.

Bless her. She is so sweet.

Blackie always has a lot to say, so Grant had quite a chorus of complaints all the way to the animal hospital and all the way back.

Fortunately the journey is only 10 minutes.

Vet visits themselves are going much faster these days.

When we were allowed to go in with our pets, there was always a great deal of discussion and much of it, it seems to me, was not exactly “on topic”.

Personally, I am not the chatty type, so if I went alone, things progressed fairly fast.

I have often wondered if veterinary doctors program extra time into their visits for chatty owners. I ask myself if we will ever go back to the old system, as the new one must surely be more efficient, albeit not as friendly! We always have really nice vets and even I miss chatting with them.

We’ve been shuttling cats to the vet for the past three weeks and today Grant came back waving three more reminders at me. I so hate pushing cats into carriers and seeing their little faces driving off. These regular check-up visits are one of those things you wonder about giving up, what with our current “problems”, but we are lucky to have a vet that is still in business, so the least we can do is support them. Also, most of our cats are “middle-aged”, so health checks are a good idea.

But we also have one Felv+ cat, which means they all have to be inoculated regularly.

How we came to have a Felv+ cat in the family is a good example of how you should never take anything for granted!

Blackie was a stray. When we first saw her, she was hanging out by a house down the cul-de-sac opposite my house in Washington. Sometimes she ventured up to my place and of course we always had a food bowl on the doorstep.

When she would have been about 6 months old, we didn’t see her for a few days and when she re-appeared, her ear had been docked, indicating she had been spayed.

When cats are spayed in Washington, it was my understanding that they are first tested for feline leukemia and a positive result ends with the cat being put to sleep. So we made the assumption that Blackie was clear. Of course she may have acquired the disease subsequently, although she seemed to navigate only between our two houses.

As Spring turned into Summer, Blackie spent more and more time with us, as she saw me pottering in the garden. Before long, I could count of having her companionship. She would sit there talking to me and offering her suggestions. She had been very timid at first, and she still flees from strangers, but once she decided to trust us, she appeared to decide I was her person.

My beloved Mohammed had been a cuddler. I always slept with my arm around him.

Then there had been Yeti and Thimphu, both cuddle-cats and Panther. Panther used to sit on my lap and stare into my eyes. He was an old soul and I was his person.

Then suddenly I was at a place where I had lots of cats but none of them was a cuddler and I felt bereft.

Enter Blackie. But whatever she thought, she did not belong to me.

Winter arrived again and Blackie still camped out on my doorstep, even if I was nowhere in sight. The nights got cold and we put a makeshift house together for her. She slept on top of it instead of inside, but at least she had the option.

If the people down the cul-de-sac were concerned about the little black cat, they did not make it known. They must have seen Blackie at my place, so maybe they decided I could care for her. Every time the door was opened, Blackie would gaze inside, clearly wanting to come in.

So one cold night, we invited her to join us. The others had seen her through the window and didn’t seem in the least bothered. “What’s one more”, they seemed to say.

We had always been paranoid about taking in new cats, immediately getting them tested for FIV and Felv. FIV these days is not such a big issue, but Felv is contagious. But we were convinced Blackie would have been tested…

Imagine our shock, horror, embarrassment, when we took Blackie to the vet some weeks later only to discover that she was positive for feline leukemia. I felt my heart sink into my shoes. The test was done again and it’s a “weak” positive, but still positive.

We immediately checked the records for all the others. We always had them immunized and thankfully they were all basically up-to-date. It would be better to keep Blackie isolated, in theory, but she had already joined the gang. So we just monitor everyone very carefully. Which we have always done, anyway.

Mohammed was my first cat and losing him was really hard. Afterwards came Yeti who was my only cat for 14 years, then Panther and Thimphu. Each so special in their own way, so different. They had all acknowledged being connected to me. There was no question, I was theirs.

And when they were all gone, I felt so empty. I didn’t go looking for “replacements”. For one thing, I already had more cats than any sane person needed. But none of them thought of me as theirs.

You can’t just go and find a cat that will bond with you. In my experience, it’s the cat that finds you.

As did Willow and Blackie. Willow appeared one day on the hill behind the house, looked up and saw me and more or less made a bee line for the door. She arrived in my lap purring and kneading her claws in the way that says “you’re mine”. But Willow is not a cuddler. She likes to be near me and she likes to supervise my movements and activities, but she is happy to let Blackie do the cuddling. Which is fortunate, as Blackie attaches to me like velcro.

Like Panther, both of these cats look into my eyes, my heart, my soul. Each one has little habits that remind me of one of my earlier cats. Mohammed and Panther liked to watch me brush my teeth and that is just what Willow does. Blackie presses up against me in bed, as Mo did and she runs about like a lunatic, as Panther did. When they do those things, I get a warm feeling in those special places in my heart where I keep all the memories of my beloved departed friends.

It’s really nice to belong to a cat.

6 thoughts on “Take not for granted !

  1. I enjoyed reading about your history with cats. I was just thinking of two dogs who passed on from my pack, one in January and one about a year ago.

  2. Love your cat-work. I have 3 mature girls. Could you do a segment on really great cat toys to keep them engaged? Mine are bored and tearing up stuff–rugs, furniture, toilet paper. Please help. Thanks.

  3. I love reading your stories about your cats. ♥️
    I can’t imagine my life without my cats, past, and present.
    It is so nice, as you say, to belong to a cat. 😻

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