Sunday began a lot earlier than planned when Moo decided that 5.30 was the perfect time to get up for breakfast, I thought you were only supposed to get weird jet-lag when you crossed time zones, not borders. By 7 am she had conked out again so I went back to be hoping to do the same, but it was not to be, so I went down stairs to have a bit of quality time with Chimney, just in case. To my utter confusion she was nowhere to be found. I knew she had to be here somewhere, but I searched the house for over an hour and couldn’t find her anywhere. I knew she couldn’t have gone very far as she could barely raise her head last night but I just didn’t know where else to look. I decided to give up for 10 minutes have a coffee and finish sorting out the washing from our week away. As I reached into my case not only did I find my nice big scarf, but curled up inside it was the cat. Thankful that I had found her and she was still alive I took her to the sofa and did the cruellest and kindest thing by administering her next injection. I have never given a cat an injection before, but guided by the advice of my neighbour the deed was done. I’m sure if she’d had a bit more energy she would have scratched me to ribbons, but as it was she gave a half-hearted wriggle then stopped moving entirely. I had a momentary panic until she started moving again, but my relief did not last long she crawled back on her cushion and fell once more into a fitful and obviously quite painful slumber. I sat with her and stroked her pitifully scrawny frame until Moo had re-emerged from her bed and requested ‘second breakfast’. With the family up and fed I rang the vet and tried my best to explain the problem, I was told I could bring her in after lunch so I went next door to pick up the cat carrier that they had offered to lend. Lunch was quite a sombre affair with none of us really in the mood for humour, but hubs and trying to jolly along so Moo would not get upset when it was time for me to go. To be honest though, in that direct and refreshing way that children have, she was dealing with it far better than either of the grown-ups. I put off leaving for as long as I could as I felt certain by now that I was taking Chimney to her final appointment and as I walked out the door I felt like Madame le Guillotine.
The drive to the vet’s was awful. The cat was in obvious distress and started retching and squealing at the pain it caused her, she has entirely lost her meow as a result of the lumps in her throat so the noises she was making sounded very odd and most un-catlike, and it was all I could do not to burst into tears. When I got there the place looked deserted and I tried all the doors and found them locked. I pulled out my mobile to call them and realised it was a futile gesture as I had still no credit, (now is not the time for a rant at the total inadequacy of the French pay as you go mobile system, but I can assure you that time will come soon), so I jumped back in the car and headed for the town square and the nearest payphone. Again I was thwarted as it was a ‘calling card only’ booth, and with it being a Sunday, there was nowhere open to buy a card, Grrrr. I didn’t really know what to do so I headed back to the vets to see if any of the doors had miraculously unlocked in my absence, and to my utter joy it turns out they had. The vet on duty had been called out, (or had snuck out the back for a crafty ciggie perhaps), and although she had only been gone for about 10 minutes it just happened to be the 10 minutes I had been trying to get in. At last Chimney was seen. I explained what had happened, with the aid of a note from my neighbour and the vet’s notes from the previous morning, as the cat was examined and although my French is not really up to a standard yet where I understand veterinary terminology I understood enough to know that the cats condition was extremely serious, she was close to death, and would have to be taken in immediately for tests to see if anything could be done. I said a swift au revoir to Chimney and headed back home in tears, to await the vet’s phone call the following day.
Monday passed in a bit of a blur, we had to go out shopping to pick up some bits for hubs, but I was distracted vague and spent most of the day checking my mobile and willing it to ring. It was late afternoon when it finally did and I spoke to the nurse who, thankfully, had enough English to explain Chimney had made it through the night and had managed a small amount to eat but that I must come to the clinic to discuss the situation as soon as possible. The tone of her voice and her words made me once again fear the worst. I dropped off Hubs and Moo and raced to the vets with such a dread in my heart fearing what I may have to ask them to do. As I arrived there seemed to be a kerfuffle in the back and staff were running in all directions so I took my seat and waited as patiently as I could. The kerfuffle turned out to be a rather delirious cow who had not been well disposed to someone trying to give her a sedative and was causing quite a stir with the very young new vet at the practice. Had I not been so down hearted the whole situation would have been rather amusing. The senior vet arrived on the scene and order was restored and he was soon back the business of domestic creatures. The couple in front of me were seen and it emerged that they were here to say a final farewell to their beloved hound. Their grief was raw and painful to witness, my dread at being the next to hear that particular news increased tenfold and when I was called into the vet’s office I was so prepared not to cry when she told me that there was nothing that could be done, that I was quite literally dumbstruck when she gave me the news that my dear little cat should be right as rain in a few short weeks. I had to ask her to repeat herself to ensure I had understood her correctly, but it was true. She had managed to get a cut or two on her gums and they had become infected and ulcerated, which is why she couldn’t eat, then the infection had spread to her throat and stomach. The vets had managed to clean the ulcers and give her a boost of antibiotics and vitamins, and with a further 10 day course of antibiotics all should be well. I nervously asked about FIV as that was the first vets initial thought, but although it can produce very similar symptoms, she had been tested and was all clear. We went through her after care and the vet took a moment to praise Hubs action of feeding her pate and milk the previous evening stating that it had probably saved her life, and then we were told we could go home. I have never been so happy to write a cheque. It was an evening of celebration in our house as we were all so utterly amazed and relieved to have our cat back with us.
I’ve never really been a ‘cat person’ and having one as a pet never featured on my ‘to-do’ list. Chimney’s arrival in our household was a little out of the blue for us and it wasn’t the easiest of relationships, and there have been many times when I would have gladly seen the back of her. But after the last few days I can well and truly say she is one of the family.
It wasn’t till after Moo was in bed and Hubs and I were sitting together with a glass of wine that I suddenly remembered what was happening tomorrow. With all the drama and worry I had put to the back of my mind the fact that tomorrow afternoon I was taking Hubs to the train station so he could go to the airport and get on a plane that would take him to Macau for the next 6 months.