So Steve has finally started packing. Unlike my military-style, highly-organised packing, he’s opted for the more laissez-faire approach. I’m now up to about 100 wine boxes, all labelled, all clearly identifiable, all helpfully sorted into room-by-room groups. I may colour code them, but I think that may be too much. Steve, however, has gone for the more ad-hoc approach of finding random-sized boxes of varying strengths, styles and shape, and he’s filling them with whatever he comes across. This may not help very much with my deciding where everything is likely to go, but it will help create an exact replica of his disorganised home. I, for instance, have packed CDs with CDs, make up with make up, handbags with handbags. He’s gone for the roman coins with shoelaces with history books with lead fishing weights. It’s novel. I’ll give him that. To give him credit, it makes sense to him. Quite why he wants to bring two small safes with him is beyond me. Both of them can be carried off to be smashed elsewhere, one of them has a single-tumbler lock and the other doesn’t lock (or shut) at all. In fact, the most use they’ve been is for our baby-sitting rescue cat to hide in.
The rescue cat has a story of its own, and we’re deeply affectionate about it (apart from Jake who seems to think the cat hates him with a passion)
Some time last summer, Jake and his friend ‘found’ a kitten under a hedge and brought it down for our perusal.
“It’s dead.” Steve said, unemotional as ever. The friend gave a look of abject horror.
“Dead?!” and the kitten was all set to be launched into space which would definitely have finished it off for good. Luckily, it gave a little move just in time, Steve realised his error, ran to its rescue and relieved the young boy of his fear that he may indeed be holding a dead animal. He put it in a box and waited for me to get home, having tried to tempt it with some milk and then some water. If Jake hadn’t found it, it’d be dead. If Steve hadn’t put it in a shady spot and fed it a little liquid, likewise.
Luckily, I have charm where animals are concerned. I’ve rescued a hamster, a gerbil, several fish and my own cat, Basil, from several near-death escapades. I hand-fed Basil New Covent Garden chicken soup when he was very poorly, and I know how to sort a cat out. Poor baby kitten was covered in fleas, lice, and most disconcerting, fly eggs and maggots, which had already begun to eat him. I washed him down and raced him to the RSPCA in Salford. This is an experience in itself. There was no apparent way in, as it has to be kept under constant lockdown from the nearby druggies, and it was operating on a three-door policy, where you went through one, were vetted, then went through another. Honestly, it was worse than airport security!
There was a chavvy looking bloke in there, with, yes, a Staffie and its pups. The Staffie had killed one, and they were worried it would kill another. Probably saw the life its children would lead and decided to put them out of their misery. Leather collars with metal spikes on, hanging around offies looking menacing, and being paraded as a menace when you’re really a sweetheart dog must be enough to drive any mother to consider euthanasia. Anyway, the vet took a look and then it was my turn, with my little shoebox with the recently-named ‘Ollie’, partly in honour of Oliver Twist, the most literary foundling I could think of, partly in honour of having a sound-alike to ‘Molly’. Steve had suggested ‘Arfur’ (‘Arf-Alive) but I like to bestow literary names upon my cats, in the best T.S. Eliot style.
I was worried Ollie had broken back legs, but it was just that he was so weak he couldn’t hold them properly. And the vet gave me some rehydration salts and sent me on my way.
Ollie had to be fed the fluid with a 2ml syringe. I sponged him down, put him in the airing cupboard, kept him warm, wiped his bum, knowing that baby cats need a mummy cat’s tongue on their arse to make them wee, apparently. What a job. No wonder I’m not maternal. And I’m not even a cat. I gave him 2ml every hour, kept him clean, powdered him with gentle flea powder, and cleaned his eyes, which were glued shut with pus and snot.
Next day, he was still sniffing and sneezing. I knew the vet had missed something. Ollie had cat flu. He had to have. I took him to my vet, Michael, who is an adorable man. He’s so gentle and kind – he’s exactly what you’d want in a vet. And he agreed. Cat flu. Probably wouldn’t survive the night. Didn’t even know if he was old enough for anti-biotics. I thought he was about 6 weeks old, but in retrospect, he was probably only 2 or 3. So I paid up a princely sum for anti-biotics, cat milk, de-fleaing drops, and took him home to start the lengthy process of bringing him back to health.
The first two days, he didn’t move at all. He barely woke up when I was feeding him, and he was not even moving an inch during the day, just sleeping face down on Basil’s old cat cushion. I was convinced he would make it, despite what the vet said. I made another couple of trips to pick up more anti-biotics, and have check-ups, but it didn’t bode well.
Then he did a little poo.
Ollie, a couple of days later
All was beginning to look a little better. He was beginning to move from 2 ml to a 5 ml syringe, and he moved a little bit on the Thursday. He was a little cleaner, and he managed to get one eye open. Over the next week, he began to lap milk from a saucer, coaxed by me moving the syringe nearer and nearer to it. And he began to sit up and look more alive than dead. I went through many syringes, many towels, many cotton wool pads and cotton wool buds that week.
He began to move about a bit, and was kind of nicknamed Wobbly Bob. I don’t know why people who are wobbly get called Bob, but so it is. So Ollie became Ollie-Bob, and occasionally Bob Sagat (via Bob Seger!) and he began to get a lot more lively, although still very, very fragile!
Ollie looking a little bewildered
And he was beginning to follow Molly about, looking up to her like a surrogate mother. She loved it, and it made me feel a little bit sad that she’d been spayed, since she would have made an excellent mum! She was incredibly patient with him, though excited by the new addition to the family, never jealous of the time we spent with him. He even took to copying her mannerisms!
Molly teaching Ollie her best moves
He really was unbelievably small and wobbly. But one night, Ollie crept into Moll’s basket and cuddled up, and she loved it. It was like she was made to be cuddled up to by small animals. She wouldn’t move, and even when we went up to bed, she didn’t come with us, and that never happens. She always comes up to bed!
Moll's best friend
Not long after, my sister, Abi, had professed a desire to have Ollie. On one condition. He had to have a new name. My brother-in-law insisted he should be called Clint, after his film star hero (I assume!) and Ollie had to go. Not a problem. We’d come to realise, confirmed by my vet, that Clint was deaf, so Clint it was. Clint Horan. More Clint Boon than Eastwood. And he’s since lived up to the Clint Boon/Eastwood moniker by becoming a complete Manc hoodlum claw-slinging terror-mongering maniac. Now he’s in full-grown kitten hood, and although he walks around with his head on one side a bit, due to his early cat flu, and he’s balance-inept, and he’s unable to meow in any other way than making a Sweep-like squeak, we love him completely.
He’s come to rule my sister’s house. He breaks draining boards, knocks things over, terrorises anyone without shoes on and will willingly hang from you if you walk past.
Whilst we’ve been babysitting Clint, he’s managed to worm his way back into Moll’s heart, and was cuddled up next to her this morning, albeit with her under the duvet, and him on top. He eats her dog biscuits, she leaves his food untouched. He steals her bed, she sleeps in a corner. She sniffs him, he bites her head. But they’ve had this ongoing game of kiss-chase going on for days, and we’re really going to miss him when he’s gone. Still, whilst he might play well with Molly, Basil’s having none of it, since Clint seemed to think Basil was some kind of cat guru and has spent the last 4 days following him about everywhere in the house, trying to do exactly what Basil is doing, and desperate to play. But Basil is stately, now, and so he’s just put up with him, desperately trying to get some proper sleep. As if I won’t have enough animals with me without our little Clinton.