The strangest week in recent memory culminated in a Sunday that I can't let pass without recording. I was on call for work, and Helen had a lot of preparation for school to do, so we hadn't made any firm plans. Time has a habit of draining away under such circumstances, so I'd guiltily drawn up a list of aims. After a couple of hours' displacement, I siezed the day, and announced to Helen that we were going to find Poppy.
Our lovely fifteen-year-old black cat has a tendency to wander off across the local back gardens, taking hospitality wherever she can, and every few months, we have to go and reclaim her from the lady whose garden backs on to ours. The garden she goes through has recently been surrounded by tall trellises for plants to climb. And cats. My pet theory, as it were, was that she'd climbed over, but didn't fancy climbing back. Round we traipsed, to learn that she had been there, but that she seemed to have a sore leg and wasn't there any more. Containing our worry, we went home and looked for her in adjacent gardens.
Helen eventually spotted her on an intervening patio, motionless, but thankfully, breathing. I called on my Scouse powers of, er, cat burglary, and trespassed over to retrieve her. We got her inside and it became apparent that she couldn't put weight on one of her back legs. Helen called the weekend emergency vet, who disappointingly didn't appear by helicopter.
We incarcerated the patient in her travel podule and drove her over to the practice. Possibly a dislocated hip, said the reassuringly competent and personable vet. She'd need an x-ray, and sedation beforehand, because asking a cat to stay still in the requesite pose is so hard that all the similes about things being hard to control already refer to cats, and therefore can't even be used as similes in this situation. We bid au revoir to Poppy and adieu to a significant chunk of a week's pay, and went home to wait for the news.
The worst case, we'd been told, was that she'd lose the leg. Her sister in Trafford gets by perfectly well with just the three, so this wasn't as shocking as it might have been. The call came, and Helen went to collect her. The good news was that it was just an inflamed hip joint, caused by a jolt which had aggravated some arthritic bone growth (she's a very old lady now). However, she'd have to be housed for a week or so in a run where she could move around freely, but not jump or climb at all, or the anti-inflammatory medication wouldn't be able to to any good.
An abortive prototyope based on clothes-airers and old sheets soon gave way to a kind of indoor fallout shelter made by pushing the dining table against the wall and blocking the other three sides with the sofa and framed prints. The mark two was refined by using just the glass from one of the prints so she got some light. In went her blanket, food and water bowls, and litter tray. It feels rotten to coop her up in there, and I just wish I could explain why and how it's for her own good.
Helen brought back the X-ray plates from the vet, which as well as showing that she's in good shape otherwise, indicate that she swallowed a mouse whole fairly recently – you can see its little skeleton inside hers. This is another reason she's been feeling a bit tender. And possibly, diving for the mouse was what set her hip off.
It's like having a feral great-grandmother living with you.