Sunday, 13 April 2014

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Adopted by a cat


The cat who changed our world

Until September 2010 I did not like cats. I know, you do not believe. Me neither.  

Since I was 6 years old I avoided cats. I never thought about them as mean or dangerous. At least not about all of them. I just did not want to have anything to do with any of them. Maybe I was a little scared. Scared that yet again I will have scratches on my face.... This is what happened when I was 6... 

Our next door neighbours had a cat. A female cat and she had kittens. All kids from the neighbourhood wanted to see the kittens. I remember standing between a living room and a kitchen in our neighbours’ apartment among other children. Next thing I remember was pain in my face. I cannot recall if it was a kitten or its mother that scratched my face so badly. What I know now is that our neighbours should not have allowed a group of kids, aged 3 to 7, to get so close to the basket with 4-week old kittens and their mother. And without adult supervision! For 2 weeks I did not want to go to school. I did not want other children to laugh at me. 

Since this accident I tried not to cross my path with a cat. And 30 years passed that way.   
In the middle of 2010 my husband and I decided to leave our apartment and move to a house. We lived in the city centre, close to the pubs and concert hall. We wanted a quiet place with no high buildings around. So we moved. Nice house in a quiet area of terraced houses. Far away from the city centre. What a change!

And this is the place and time our cat's story begins. 

We moved in at the end of July. In September a black female cat started to come to our yard. She was bringing her kittens along. Three black and one black-brown tabby. She was visiting us 2-3 times per week. On other days she was going to other houses. Every time she came, we checked our fridge, if we had something we could give her. Around October kittens were left by their mother. She stopped caring for them. It usually goes that way. I do not know where three black kittens were going for their meals but the tabby was still coming to us, every other day in the evening. We were aware our food is not good for it so we bought some wet cat food. Mostly my husband was giving it the food. The kitten was eating outside on the pavement in our yard. It was October and each day the weather got worse. One rainy day my husband decided not to go out with the cat food. Instead, he opened the door and put a plate on the floor in our living room, close to the door. The kitten was hungry and only because of this it jumped inside, devoured its food and jumped out. From that day on the kitten was eating inside. Each time after its meal it stayed longer and longer inside. 

We did not plan to keep the kitten. We did not have any plan to be precise (when I think about it now   - we fed it so actually we started to take responsibility for it). I was careful not to touch it. It was my husband who tried this. And it was my husband who decided the kitten was a female [without checking ;)]. He named it Cicciolina. It was a nickname of an Italian porn star Ilona Staller, who was even appointed to the Italian Parliament in 1987. She was famous for giving a speech with one boob out ;). When my husband tried to stroke the kitten for the first time, she just laid on her back showing her tummy and the name Cicciolina just popped out.

After some time Cicciolina started to like us, no wonder, free food ;). Weeks have been passing and she kept visiting us. One Saturday she came in the morning and stayed with me for the whole day. She slept in the bookcase on the shelf for most of the time. When my husband came home from work, Cicciolina was playing with a rope I had given her. In the evening she wanted to go out so we let her go. 

After 2 days she came back in the evening as usual. My husband picked her up.  And he gave her to me! Just like that! She was sweet and actually did not want to bite or scratch me. She fell asleep on my lap. The weather outside was terrible – rainy and cold. I asked my husband if Cicciolina could stay that night with us and he agreed. She slept on our couch in the living room. The next morning the room and the furniture were intact. A nice surprise. When we opened the door Cicciolina just took off. OK. We did not plan to keep her

In the evening Cicciolina was back. We kept her inside overnight as the temperature was really low. We overslept the next morning and.... Cicciolina found a way to spare our furniture and floor and used our big plant standing in the living room as her toilet. We had to change the soil but we were not angry with her. We overslept, not her. And we thought it was very clever of her. She earned credits for it. Yet again - when we opened the yard door - she took off. OK. We did not plan to keep her. Yet...
Cicciolina was back after 2 days, this time it was her decision to stay. She did not want to go out at all after her meal. Again, the next morning she took off (we had to let her go out as we did not have any cat litter box). I started reading about cats. And I started to like this cat. I wanted her to stay but... I had to talk to my husband. At first I asked him if we could buy a cat litter. When Cyccolina would stay overnight, we would not have to wake up so early to let her out. My husband said NO. When I came back from work on Friday, the first thing I saw was... a cat litter put into a shallow flower pot in the living room. My husband told me he thought it over and if this would make me happy then he did not see any problem (I know, I am the lucky one) :D. He had just one condition - if Cicciolina stayed she would be an indoor cat. Yes! 

Cicciolina did not come that night. We were sure someone would keep her as she was adorable and really friendly. On Saturday morning I spotted her walking on the pavement in front of our house. I opened the door and called her. Cicciolina stopped, looked at me and then run quickly towards me. Since then she has been living with us permanently or should I say.... but maybe I will explain a small detail later. 

Unfortunately before the happy end of this story, we had to fight for Cicciolina's live. 

That first Saturday of our shared live, she slept almost all day. On Sunday we took her to a pet shop and bought her some toys and a small cat tree. My husband promised her that one day he would build her a very big one. 

On Monday when I came back from work Cicciolina did not want to play. She just wanted to be cuddled.  Also, she was not interested in food. I tried to find some information about cats' health and nothing was conclusive. It could be a stress associated with changing the environment or something else.

On Tuesday morning Cicciolina felt better so I went to work. My husband called me at about 2 pm and said Cicciolina had a high temperature, did not drink or eat, and was sleeping in a sitting position.He called his company and took a day off, I left the office earlier and we went to a vet. We planned to do it anyway a few days later but in this situation there was no doubt she needed help.
As I was going home I called a veterinary hospital and made an appointment giving details of Cicciolina – a female cat, young, sick.

When we arrived at the hospital everyone in the waiting room said she was a beautiful cat. Yes, she was, but soon something changed.

A vet asked us to get to a surgery. His name was Michael and he was a founder of the hospital. He asked us what the problem was and said that was very common - stray and feral cats living outside often got a cold at that time of the year and that could be a case (it was 9th of November). We put Cicciolina on the table. 

Michael started to examine her... after a minute or so he looked at us, then at the computer screen, again at Cicciolina... he repeated this drill. Finally, he picked Cicciolina up and looked at the place under her tail. I saw he tried not to smile. He put Cicciolina back on the table, looked at us and said in very serious voice: 'my dear, you have a boy'. 

We looked at him completely puzzled. It took us a few seconds to absorb this information. Suddenly, all of us started laughing.

Michael finished checking on our boy and said at that moment it looked like a cold. He would give him an antibiotic and we would have to wait. When he went out for some meds we looked at each other and said at the same time 'CYCEK!' (in Polish this word means 'boob' or 'titty' and is very close in speech as to the first part of (the word) Cicciolina).

So we came back home with Cycek. He felt much better within an hour after the injection and ate a big dinner. We were relieved. Not for long...

Next day at about 2 pm Cycek felt much worse. Again my husband called me and he took another day off (a second day due to a sick cat, I do not know what his supervisor and co-workers thought about it....) and I left my office immediately. 

At this point, as an antibiotic stopped working so fast, Cycek could have any serious illness. Sarah, a vet working that day at the hospital, was not optimistic. Cycek’s temperature was 42.5 °C (normal body temperatures in cats range between 100 - 102.5°F/37.7 - 39.1°C). It was crucial to bring the temperature down and also to find the cause of his illness. There were two problems - Cycek had no vaccinations and we knew nothing about his history.

Sarah informed us as gently as possible about the cost of meds and tests required. I did not need to turn my head to know my husband's reaction. We both thought the same. We asked Sarah to do everything that was necessary to save Cycek. She was very understanding but also very honest. We had to be prepared that Cycek could lose this battle. If he would survive, some damages in his brain could be permanent due to very high temperature he had for an extended period of time (no one knew how long Cycek had been sick). 

Sarah's plan was to keep Cycek in hospital and to do the blood tests to check if he had any of the cats' disease. If that would be a case then his chances to recover would be close to zero. Sarah would stay at the hospital until all tests would be done and she promised to call us to tell us about the results. In the meantime (when tests were being ran), Cycek would get another antibiotic and a drip (an IV) to flush his system to get rid of whatever was causing him sick. 

We came home at 7 pm. We sat on our couch, looked at the small cat tree and we stayed like that until we got a call from Sarah. We could not believe how quick we got attached to Cycek. It was after 10 pm when Sarah called. There were some good and bad news. Good news – Cycek did not have any cats’ disease like FIV/Feline AIDS or FeLV/Feline leukemia. At this point FPV/Feline panleukopenia was also ruled out. Bad news – Cycek’s temperature was still very high. Sarah decided to add one more drug to help Cycek (a full set of meds included: Synulox Rtu Injection, Tolfedine Injection and  Intravenous Fluid).

Sarah explained that Cycek had to stay in hospital until his temperature would be below 40 °C. How long? She did not know. At that time we had to wait. 

We visited Cycek the next day. Michael took us to the back of the hospital where all sick animals were kept. Cycek looked terrible. He was getting 3 ml of IV fluids per hour and for his small body (he weighted 2,5 kilos) it was a huge amount. His ears, eyes and a nose were wet. Michael told us Cycek ate a little but his temperature dropped down just by 1 °C. He had to stay in hospital.
Michael allowed us to open the cage door and my husband looked inside the cage. Cycek was weak but when he saw my husband he crawled to him and gave him a kiss (literally Cycek’s nose touched my husband’s nose). I never saw something like that. When my husband joked that Cycek chose us deliberately to help him, Michael did not laugh. He confirmed that cats are wise animals and could sense good people.

Cycek spent almost 4 days in hospital. Every day in the morning I called asking if his temperature went down. Finally on fourth day I was told his temperature was 39.5 °C and that we could take him home. He would have to take meds for the next 5 days but it could be done at home.
We were delighted. Cycek also looked really happy when we brought him home. First, he wanted to eat and then he checked each room in the house. Giving him meds turned out to be like climbing up Mount Everest and eventually we had to crash them and hide in his food, but other than that it looked like Cycek overcame that mysterious illness with no damages. 

We had to wait 3 weeks to vaccinate Cycek but both vaccinations were done before Christmas. This allowed us to have a really nice and quiet Christmas time. 

And slowly we started to get used to living with a cat... but that’s another story.

I would like to thank my friend Monica for offering willingly to be my blog editor. If not her, this post would not be so smooth. (How great it sounds – I have an editor!)

And I would like to add two photos extra – dedicated to my friend Iwona, one of them is not a very good quality (mobile phone used) but shows how small Cycek was when he visited us (from all of my cats Cycek is Iwona’s  front-runner ;) 

Yes, this is the same plate!

Thanks for stopping by!