Somebody get me a wheelie shopper, a housecoat, rollers and some fluffy slippers.
Somehow, I've become the Mad Cat Lady of Richmond. Well, maybe the maybe the mad cat sitter of Richmond. For the last week I've had three charges to look after. Blarney and Barney's cat has been staying with me while they're interstate. I pop in and feed Betty, Glen Waverley and Merijn's stroppy, vocal British Shorthair - they're away until the end of the week. I'm also making sure Leon, Em's cat gets fed while she's flitting about the countryside. Oh, and I'm feeding Archie, Gloria and Gaynor's old boy in a few days time.
I'm in my element.
Being on holidays, all of this cat minding gives a bit of structure to the day. Maow Maow wakes me up around 6 am. At a more civilised time a bit later I pop over to Em's to feed Leon, then I walk round to the other bit of Richmond to see Betty and open the cat flap so she has use of the garden. At dusk, I pop back to Glen Waverley's to get her back in again, which is easier than it sounds - opening the fridge door will normally do the trick - she's in the house in seconds. Sometimes I'll run a bath while I'm there and turn the telly on to give her some company for a bit - use of the large bathtub is one of the perks of cat sitting Betty.
Maow Maow's been pretty good except for a small medical issue. When Barney dropped him off last week he mentioned that his neck had been pecked at by birds - the dopey beast not bothering to move out the way when he was getting divebombed. Over the few days of Christmas his healing wounds seemed okay, but over the weekend the sites flared and turned angry. Yesterday I found my dovet cover had spats of blood across it. I wrapped a bandana around his neck to try stop him from attacking his wounds - which he didn't object to. Yesterday I contacted Blarney, who said to take him to the vet if things were getting worse. This morning I bit the bullet. His neck was looking awful.
After getting a recommendation from a couple of friends, I made the call, described the situation, explained that I was only cat sitting but my charge was in distress.
"What's your name?" asked the vet nurse.
"What sort of animal are you bringing in?"
"A grey and white moggy."
"How old is he?"
"Has he been spayed?"
It's amazing that I know all this about this cat.
"And what's his name?"
Glumph. "Umm I didn't name him."
"But what's his name?"
"Maow Maow. Maow Maow O'Leary."
The nurse sniggered. I did feel a bit stupid - who names a cat Maow Maow?
"I didn't name him."
A few hours later, Maow Maow in his carrier, we arrived at the vet. I was made to fill out a form. Giving his home address the other side of the Westage, I tried my best to answer more detailed medical questions on the cat. Was he vaccinated? I believed so. Had he been wormed? Probably. What did he eat? Too much - normally supermarket crap.
The vet was lovely. Maow Maow, give him his dues, took all of this in his stride. My mother's old cat nearly disemboweled a number of vets. Maow Maow just lay in my arms and let himself be examined.
"You brought him in just in time - these are nasty wounds." The vet clicked her tongue and made soothing noises.
"They only really flared like this in the last day or so. They weren't so angry when I got him ten days ago."
"They're horrible. I like the bandana idea. Seems to have helped a bit. He doesn't mind it?"
"Not at all - though don't tell him he's about to go on a Pride March."
The vet gave him a once over. A thermometer was shoved up his bum. He didn't flinch. The vet scrubbed his wound sites down, which he didn't like as much, but tolerated. A shot of antibiotics and steroids were taken in his stride. The vet's recommended that I take him off the supermarket muck he's currently fed and put him on pure roo meat. She reckons he might have become allergic to his food and in his delicate state, pure is best.
"Are you sure he's not your cat? He's very comfortable with you." Maow Maow had assumed his normal snuggle cuddle position on my shoulder. He's stay there for hours if I'd let him.
"Long story - he's known me since he was a kitten."
"He's not stressed at all. Cats normally don't like being moved about/"
"He's pretty laid back. And I've been having him stay over very few months, he's used to it."
"Now, I'm putting him on antibiotics - two pills a day for ten days."
"No worries - I can give a cat a pill. I got my "Care of Animals" badge in Ambulance Cadets. Had plenty of practice too. A friend of mine has her boys here I think. Do you know Bernie and Fat Sam?"
"Oh my goodness, you know Mary-Lou? She's my number one client. I thought Bernie would be dead by now."
"Didn't we all."
Mary-Lou has spent a king's ransom keeping her cats alive over the last year - I've been shoving pills down these cat's necks for years - I've been cat sitting them for years. I can also give animals injections - a few years of muelsing sheep in my teenage years has got rid of any squeamishness. Another friend had me cat sitting and having to give her aging little bloke an insulin shot once a day - he was referred to as "Junkie Pussy."
A few minutes later,the cat was back in his carrier - and I was half a week of rent poorer.
This is why I don't have my own cat - vet bills!
A few hours later, the cat appears to be really traumatised - not! He has bolted his roo meat a bit too quickly and he's stretched out on the couch, fast asleep. He spent part of the evening asleep in my arms.
Yeah, I know it's a bit of a sad existance, but I'm loving every minute of having him about - despite not wanting a cat of my own, I love having something around the place to talk to and cuddle. I get the "Mad Cat Lady" thing - I just don't want one of my own at the moment.
Still, it's a pity he goes home at the end of next week.