Oscar

You can tell how much our cats mean to us by the number of posts that they appear in. It is not ridiculous to say that they are like ‘children’ to us – never having had any of the human variety that is!!!!

Oscar – pictured to the left this morning – was brought for me by hubby on my 26th birthday (18 years ago this year!) and came complete with his own furry friend in the form of Tinker. Whilst Tinker was a very small, cute 10 week old kitten, Oscar was 6 months old and although not fully grown (as a Maine Coon he wouldn’t be fully grown until about 3 years of age) he was already quite large and very fluffy.

Hubby said that Oscar had ‘performed’ tricks for him when he went to see them at the cat sanctuary, rolling around on his back and generally larking about. Maine Coons are like that; big old fluffy clowns with a desire to play and join in on whatever is going on around them. Oscar has certainly had his fair share of  ‘larks’ over the years and we love him too pieces.

Oscar has enjoyed good health all his life and at 3 months shy of 18 years old is doing remarkably well for ‘an old boy’. Well he was. Unfortunately over the last 5 days or so we have watched our big fella go down hill quite rapidly. He is lethargic, sleeping most of the time, has a distinct limp on one of his back legs, and has lost his voice (the most disturbing symptom of all as he is usually the most talkative of cats).

Investigation on the web would seem to point towards the cause being HCM – Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy a form of heart disease. He has many of the symptoms and we know from a vets appointment last year that he has a heart murmour. Cats are masters at disquising illnesses and normally if they are showing symptoms then it means the condition is advanced and the prognosis even with treatment does not make for good reading – about 3 months.

Oscar is still eating and drinking – little amounts but regularly. He is still using his litter tray and he is still enjoying being outside in the sunshine or under his favourite bush. I can see him from where I am sat in the caravan and he is alert and watching the world go by around him in his usual ‘manana’ style. We are being careful that he doesn’t jump from up high or do anything that may put strain on his heart in any way.

We are ready at a moments notice to take him down to the vets should his condition deteriorate, but at this point I am loathed to drag him out on a car journey of 30 minutes or more and into a crowded vets for tests and prodding and poking that would stress him out and possibly make his symptoms worse. Its a dilemma and I hope I am doing the right thing but I would rather see him sitting under his bush outside enjoying his surroundings and his day with a little dignity.

I’ll keep you posted….

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How not to spend an evening!!

So, I am now into day 10 of my yoga training and it’s getting pretty intensive. Lots to remember and lots of homework. What you need is a calm, relaxed environment to come home to and sit quietly in whilst letting everything you have learnt from that day trickle through.

Unfortunately life ‘chez Bessie’ is far from calm and relaxing at the moment but last night really took the biscuit.

Molly is still poorly and so when I returned from the course yesterday we took the decision to return to the vets. Her appetite had gone again so no chance of getting the antibiotics into her and she still hadn’t urinated since Sunday morning despite drinking lots of water.

We loaded up Molly into her cat basket grabbed a few oranges and some water to eat and set off. Half way there I realised I had forgotten to put our documents in my handbag. In Spain it is compulsory to have your passports on you at all times and when in the car you need you insurance policy and breakdown cover. As I have been going up and down to yoga I have been putting them into my yoga bag (which is very full!) and then transferring them to my handbag when needs be but in the rush to get out I had forgotten. I brushed it off and thought no more of it – how wrong could I have been!!!!

We got to the vet which thankfully was a lot quieter than on Monday and we were seen within about 15 minutes. The vet we saw before examined Molly again and said her bladder was full but not worryingly so. She called her colleague in for a second opinion as she seemed a little flummoxed as to why things were obviously not working as well as they should be. After 5 days of not going to the toilet her bladder should have been very full. Her colleague also thought the situation was strange and it was decided that we should return with Molly for an ultrasound so they could get a better picture of what is going on. The appointment was made for 6pm Thursday night and so we left.

We got back in the car relieved that we hadn’t spent that long in the vets and that we would soon be home and DISASTER, the car wouldn’t start. We immediately thought the battery was dead and went back into the vets to see if they could jump-start us (we always have the leads in the back as we have been caught out before with other cars!). The receptionist came out and drove the vets van across, we set the leads up and nothing…….. so not the battery. We now realised that we needed to phone our breakdown cover BUT all the information was back at the campsite as I had forgotten it!! I stepped out the car for a moment whilst hubby composed himself!! and then we tried to work out what to do. Luckily my yoga bag was in the awning and so if we could get hold of one of our English neighbours then he could get it and give us the details. But we didn’t have his number! Luckily we did have the number for the campsite and so back into the vets to see if they could phone and explain the situation to Maria on the campsite reception; she speaks no English and our grasp of Spanish does not go beyond speaking face to face at the moment.

10 minutes later we had our neighbour Eric on the phone and within another 5 minutes we had the information we needed. Hubby then trotted off to ring the UK and organise our rescue. He returned 10 minutes later having sorted it out. Within 40 minutes the recovery vehicle was with us and after a bit of investigation work he determined that we would have to be towed to the garage about 5 minutes away. It was about 7.30 by now but he said the garage would still be open – thank goodness that they work a lot later here than in the UK.

Hubby and I clambered into the front of the truck balancing Molly and her cat basket on our knees and so began the first white knuckle ride of the evening. Not to be rude but Spanish drivers are ***p!! They drive very fast, brake rarely and always at the last possible moment and have a habit of doing anything other than concentrate on the job in hand – ie driving. Our very jolly recovery man drove us at break neck speed whilst also trying to do something on his mobile phone and read off his clipboard at the same time. Needless to say that we were grateful to arrive at the garage in one piece.

The owner of the garage – Juan spoke perfect English and after a quick discussion between him and hubby they had narrowed down the possibilities of the problem. They also ordered a taxi, part of the cover to get us home. After another wait of about 20 minutes to taxi driver arrived in a very posh car with leather seats!!

Unfortunately he got off on the wrong foot with me as he wanted to put Molly in the BOOT!! Em, ok I know several words and phrases in Spanish now but how about this one – NO!!

So, a few minutes later with Molly and I in the back seat and hubby up front we set off on the 30 minute journey home.

Now I have been to Alton Towers and Blackpool Pleasure Beach, I have sampled the highest rollercoaster in the world and jumped out of a plane but nothing compared to the next half hour. Hurtling along with his seat belt warning signal beeping like crazy because typically he wasn’t wearing it I felt like my heart was in my mouth. Then we hit the auto route. It’s scary enough driving on these in your own car as the Spanish have a well honed knack for driving as close to your bumper as is humanly possible, over taking and then cutting back in so quickly that you are lucky if you survive the manoeuvre with all your paint still intact. I’m not sure why but he felt the need to drive at 120mph with his window open so we were being buffeted around like mad. Molly was getting more distressed by the minute and I found myself evilly hoping that she would have the urge to empty her bladder on his leather seats – either that or I would.

We made it to our turn off and then began the journey up to our campsite. The road up is windy with lots of hairpin bends and it soon became apparent that no-one had told our driver that it was best to drive on the right side of the road! He took every corner on the wrong side and in 4th gear it felt. There are a lot of stray dogs around and at one point a puppy ran across the road in front of the car. Most normal sane people would slow down if they saw an animal in their path but no he kept going and how the puppy escaped being hit I don’t know. Molly had her paw in my hand by this stage and I really can’t say who was comforting who??

I have never been more relieved to see the campsite and exit a car. Molly meowed solidly when we got in and then later in the evening had a panic attack which I am sure was brought on by the journey home.

She slept on the bed with us all night and this morning seems a little better. She is still not eating but has at last been to the toilet so we are focusing all our positiveness on her getting better.

Hopefully the car will be fixed today, if not we will have to organise for a hire car for tomorrow as we need to get back to the vet Thursday evening for Molly to have her scan.

Driving aside the breakdown cover actually worked really well and we didn’t have to wait to long for any part of it. It is reassuring to know that it worked so well as breaking down is bad enough let along in a foreign country. It is also a good opportunity for hubby to practice letting go of a problem. If we were back in the UK he would have insisted on fixing the car himself but here he has no choice but to let the garage sort it for us. Less stress all around!!

To be continued I am sure……………

Rabies jabs and a whole lot of wailing…..

Oscar, Tinker and Molly known collectively around here as ‘the babes’ had a trip out in the car today down to the vets to receive their rabies jabs so that their passports could be stamped up to date and they are cleared for travel….

The vets is less than a 5 minute car journey away and I am a careful and slow driver especially when they are on board but predictably they wailed the whole way there taking it in turns to let out the loudest and most pathetic sounded cries that you have ever heard. Once at the vets I had to wait 30 minutes even though there was noone else there and then when I finally did get to see the vet she informed me (in a very apologetic tone it has to be said) that she only had enough vacinne for two and that one of them would have to come back next week. Sharp intake of breath from me, even sharper one from the cats when they realised one would have to make another trip. The rest of the visit was uneventful and the cats behaved themselves until we got back in the car when the wailing recommenced (yes I know Spain is a longggggggggggggggg way….)

So, who has to return next week……not an easy decision as they are all pretty bad in the car so I had to take each case on its merits.

Oscar is the male of our little pack. He is big, very fluffy and a real softie. He likes to think he is a big macho cat but in reality he is just a big pile of squidge. He had to go to the vets last week as he needed some dental work done and I took him to our old vet who is a bit further away – an hours journey each way. He wasn’t in the best of moods when we got there and actually pooped his pants just as we arrived so that alone earns him the right to sit the next vets visit out.

Molly is the baby of the family and the loudest. She meows all the time, constantly and likes nothing more than to be cuddled on demand. She had a big accident with a car last year and lost one of her back legs as a consequence and so now vet visits can be quite traumatic for her as she never knows if she is going to leave with all her remaining limbs!! So she gets an exemption from next weeks visit as well.

Which leaves Tinker who is the mummy of the group. She looks after everyone, washing and grooming them all and generally keeping them in tip top condition. She is 17 now and going a little bit ditzy and although she can meow as well as the rest of them she is also the easiest to calm down. So, poor Tinker pulled the short straw and will be returning with me next week to have her jab.

I am also going to be purchasing something called Feliway, which is a spray made from natural ingredients that is supposed to help calm animals down. Anything is worth a go as otherwise our journey down to Spain is going to be very traumatic for all of us……and if it doesn’t work on the cats then I will just use it on John and I…….