Fur babies

I had a very lazy morning today. We were woken up at before 7am, but I stayed in bed until about 10am. Dozing, wafting, whatever you want to call it, I was out of it today.

Waking up, WhatsApp said I had a notification from Mum. “Branston has just passed away, very peacefully on the floor by the bed.” As soon as I read it I rang home; stoic at first, then as I told her about my ‘phone call with Bec yesterday, I started weeping.

It’s not just about a cat, it never is. As Dad said just now when we talked on FaceTime, they do leave footprints on your heart. Cats choose you, if they don’t want to live with you or your family – they’ll toddle off and find someone else who suits them better.

Chief Brody chose us when we went to the cat rescue, yelling at us until we got him in the carrier and home. I am very much his human, but he sleeps on Archie’s bed most nights too. I chose Doctor Hooper from kittens needing homes at work, but his personality was too domineering to live with CB who is very skittish (as he was sixteen weeks old when we got him, we have no idea what his history was before he was left with the cat rescue). Doctor Hooper in the end was re-hoomed to live with Ruby, a friend’s daughter. His first night home with them, now renamed Taco, he slept in her room and has been an integral member of their family since.

Branston was one of two cats I’ve not re-homed from a shelter; I was on a wait list for kittens and thought I’d missed out on this particular litter. However, another lady who was going to choose two didn’t call back. So I got a phone call, “Can you come over today to choose your cats?” I didn’t hesitate and whizzed over. Branston and Pickle. Branston pure tortoiseshell and Pickle, one of those big, fat white cats with blobs of colour on. I wanted kittens because ex-husband was in the army in the UK and we would be likely to move around a lot. I wanted them to be resilient and come round with us.

We lived next door to a couple with Borzois, one day Donna asked us to keep the cats inside until she’d let the dogs out because they wouldn’t go into their garden as Branston was out there wanting to play with them. She was still a kitten, this teeny, tiny thing scaring dogs who stood level with my waist.

Pickle was a lot like Chief Brody, a bit skittish and more than a bit stupid too. She’d climb trees then couldn’t work out how to get down them. We moved house but she didn’t cope with it, she started weeing everywhere, in the end we surrendered her to a shelter where they’d already got a lady lined up who wanted an indoor, loving cat. I do wonder how she got on, and if she had a happy life?

Branston was cheeky as. She was so little when I got her she’d curl up in a six-egg carton to sleep. Then when she was too big, she’d push the cardboard around on the floor because it sounded good. I took them both to the vets for their initial check after they’d been home a week. They got given a treatment for worms, fleas and ticks. With gunk in her ears and eyes, and dribbling white medicine the look of indignation she gave me was one I can still see now.

I’d let them out in the morning, call them in before I’d left for work and quite often would miss the bus I’d want to catch because Branston would be off and away, running like a rocking horse up the alley behind the houses. But if I gave up on the game of getting her back in and leave her out, I’d be greeted with angry yells when I got home.

One days she came in and was ill, so sick after she’d vomited, she fell over sideways. Picking her up in a towel, we took her to the vet where she was put on a drip. For two days I was a mess, but she came home and was fine. We never did figure out what it was that caused it. When dickhead and I went to Cuba for a holiday, Dad moved in to the house for two weeks to look after them both as the cost for a cattery was more than our holiday. Branston and he bonded then, when dickhead and I separated, I went to live with Mon Bears, who had an indoor bunny. I asked if Aged Parents could have Branston for me until I sorted myself out.

By the time I had sorted myself out, Branston was definitely my Dad’s cat. She adored him, following him around the house. It was on his side of the bed she passed away today. When he was ill in hospital last year having surgery for bowel cancer, she would sit in the window and wonder where he was.

But for me, my overriding memory of this cat was her gregariousness. I’d never known another cat like her. Ex-husband’s brother was a mechanic, doing a mini-service on our car on a visit down to us, I sat on a picnic blanket talking to them both. Branston sat beside me, as a car drove past, she’d go back to the house, stand in the door way, then come back to sit beside me on the blanket. When you stayed with Mum and Dad, you’d wake up in the middle of the night for no reason, then see the cat looking at you, ‘Yow’.

The last few years of her life, she got a pet-passport and went camping with Aged Parents, she loved it. In and out the caravan all day long. She would appear on the table when I’d talk to Aged Ps over FaceTime. When I walked in the house in March this year, I called “Branston!” she came down the stairs and looked at me in disbelief then started singing with joy when she saw me.

If you’re thinking about buying an animal for your family for Christmas, think about the time investment it is, whether you really do want that cute fur-ball until the end. Think about what it will feel like at the end of their lives. Fifteen years Branston was with us, Pickle was with us for three. Fluffy (because she was), Beaky (another tortie who looked like an owl), Sooty (black all over) and Susie (black and white, occasionally black all over after she’d been asleep in the coal hole) were members of our family for between five to twelve years too.

I’d have them all over again, my life has been all the richer for them.

As Spike Milligan said “I told you I was ill”

We packed up our stuff this morning and headed over to Finley’s hospital, we went in the Main Entrance, I explained we were up from Melbourne and probably needed antibiotics – could I see a doctor please? The receptionist was great, said there was a GP surgery on site, if they couldn’t see me, then I could head over to Emergency. Bit drastic, but needs must.

We went next door to the surgery, again the staff were great, I filled a new patient form in and got squeezed into see one of the GPs. After asking me about smoking and alcohol as I was new on the system and he couldn’t do anything until he completed these, (I didn’t mention the first rule of Book Club), he listened to my chest. We talked through my symptoms > Bronchitis.

I’ve got industrial strength antibiotics, plus steroid tablets, I’m to double my steroid inhaler dose, take an antihistamine, continue on the cold and flu relief and use my ventolin at least twice during the day too. I’m to file the repeat antibiotics if I am still coughing at all after five days but if I’m still running a fever after three I have to go back to my GP. How do you know when you’re running a fever? When your paracetamol runs out, you wilt and have your own personal summer.

To say I’m off my face on medications would be an understatement.

The last time I had this much of a mixture going through me would have been after my c-section! Anyhoo, I’m sounding better already, which I’m sure is just the steroids jollying everything along.

Archie had asked to visit the bees at Beechworth before we’d even come up to NSW. After getting my script filled in Finley, we got a coffee and a snack at Tocumwal. I then Mad-Navd Hubs a most peculiar route to Beechworth – we did a glorious squircle around Tocumwal and saw lots of farmland. Bless him. I’m firmly blaming the drugs and I’m sure we’ll laugh about it soon.

We stopped at the Beechworth Pantry for lunch, Italian polenta stack for me, so stealing that idea. It was like a lasagne, gluten free heaven on a plate. Hubs ordered a Devonshire Tea (what Aussies call a Cream Tea). I got told that they didn’t do Devonshire Teas, but he could have either plain or date scones with cream and jam. I just looked surprised and said ‘Yes please!’ Arch ordered a ham and cheese sandwich and we shared two pots of English Breakfast, with Archie declaring that “Tea was his best drink!” The three of us people watched quite happily and brought some Ploughman’s lunch fixings. Can’t wait for that tomorrow!

We tottered back up the hill to the bees, I nearly needed a lie down when we got there and was seriously eyeing up the chairs outside. However, the microscopes that Archie wanted to look through had gone, the whole shop had been rearranged and we only came out with one pot of honey. Unheard of for us, but the shelves were bare. They’d evidently had a good weekend and were revving up for Christmas.

By now I was wilting good and proper, we got back to the car, Mad-Navd Hubs out of Beechworth, confirmed the route he needed and fell asleep. Which was great, until Archie decided I needed to wake up and shoved me through the headrest. You know those naps where you wake up thinking you’re in a different time-zone, you feel worse than when you went to sleep? That.

Still we got home in one piece, the cat has not left my side and either purred at me while swaying in bliss, or yelled at me with joy for the best part of an hour. He’s now lying on my bed, chirping away in his sleep.

We’ve the public holiday for the horse race tomorrow (only in Australia, but on this occasion – THANK GOODNESS!) we have all had showers, bread and milk have been brought, the washing can wait till tomorrow; I’ve only got three pairs of undies and a pair of PJs to wash – hurrah! I’ve been in bed for an hour and don’t care a jot.

See you all on the other side of what is sure to be an interesting night’s sleep! I’ll leave you with this heathen putting his jam on first – tsk!

Heathen!

A buffet of carnage

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This little ball of fluff, shown immediately after his arrival into the family has turned into an effective hunter and is having a whale of a time this week. He’s brought us ‘gifts’ of:

  • 3 cockroaches
  • a dead mouse
  • a live frog
  • umpteen earthworms

Given he sleeps on my pillow, I dread to think what I may well wake up to one night