Tag Archives: vet

BUD GETS A HAND

Young Bud is a live wire, constantly getting into scrapes, but three weeks ago yesterday he surpassed himself in the trouble stakes. Quite literally. The morning was chilly but with less cloud than we’ve been subjected to this long and bleak winter.

The various teenaged felines were going about their and everybody else’s business in the weak sunshine. In the house, out of the house, up the trees and over the walls. Retsina and Ouzo hadn’t yet stirred from their bed – our bed – Raki was taking a light nap and Mythos lounged in front of the fireplace.

At my computer with ever-present mug of tea in hand I pondered the world’s doings. A pleasant distraction as we all know which I justify in the interests of keeping informed.

Piercing screams of pain filled the air outside my window. Bone-chilling cries that paralyzed me as my brain raced through the possibilities. We’ve had packs of dogs tearing through the property occasionally this winter. Hunting dogs that should never be near here have caused us consternation for fear of a cat being caught.

Yelling for Ron, no clue what I was getting into, I flew down the stairs and out the door. The agonized howling continued. I hurtled round the side of the house in its direction and saw Grappa and Anise huddled together, staring at a tumble of ice-ravaged plants.

Costa, bless his darling heart, is the passionate creator of these grounds. I could write a book on his horticultural activities. I could write volumes on our earnest discussions as to why what he’s done/is doing/is going to do is not what I want/like/deem suitable.

Lest you get the mistaken idea that I have any clue about plants let me assure you that I don’t, but even I know that planting a succulent alongside a rosebush is not going to result in a blooming future for either. Simply put – Costa does his thing. I suggest, I protest, I insist and the outcome is always the same – Costa does his thing.

Our gardening consultations are merely practice sessions of our Greek and Albanian.

But I digress. A few years ago an excited Costa arrived in possession of a plant which he assured me was very special. I’ve learnt not to question the provenance of some of these noteworthy specimens. “Why do you care?” is the response. “It’s here, that’s all you need to know.”

This particular example was planted close to the house, on the seaward side. In summer the sun beats down relentlessly on that spot. ‘”Does it want the sun?” I ventured. In retrospect I don’t think it did but Costa surrounded it with wooden stakes and bits of rebar over which he tied some ground cover. “There! It’s got a little house to protect it from the sun until it’s big and strong.”

I was dubious but agreed to water if faithfully through the summer when he’d be back in Albania. At some point it lost the fight for life, but the ground cover flourished into a rather strange looking clump.

From under this winter-entangled mess Bud’s head and front legs strained in a desperate effort to get free. It took a few seconds before I fully understood that he was somehow stuck for I couldn’t see the rest of him. Ron arrived at a run. “He’s trapped!” I yelled, adding to the ear-splitting noise. Ripping out ground cover and summing up the situation immediately, Ron rushed off to get wire cutting tools.

I crouched down as best I could, bad knee notwithstanding, and grasped the terrified Bud by the scruff. The poor creature was crazed with fear and it took all my strength to restrain him. Pinned down as he was, struggling violently to get away, I feared he was going to damage himself very badly.

It took several seconds to cut away part of the vegetation so as to establish how exactly Bud was caught, and then several more minutes to begin cutting through the wire that ensnared his left back leg. Further petrified by Ron’s efforts to release him Bud worked his neck from my grasp and sank his teeth deep into my hand. I managed to grab hold of him again, but he so contorted his body that he was able to bite me once more and rake my arm deeply with his front paws.

Overcome with pain and shock I abandoned him – at least he couldn’t reach Ron – and ran icy cold water from the garden sink over my hand. Blood was pouring profusely from the wounds, so much of it that the paving looked as though something had been slaughtered. My hand swelled up alarmingly.

I rushed inside to douse my hand in antiseptic, wrapped it tightly in a towel and went back to the scene. Bud was still not free, and when Ron finally severed the wire that was holding him fast, it had been pulled so tight during Bud’s struggles that the loop around his leg could not be cut loose. Bud collapsed on the ground, and Ron was then able to work the snare free.

We were faced with a dilemma. I clearly needed treatment, so did the cat. Sunday, remember? No vet.

“I’ll lock him up under the stairs,” Ron took charge. “He’ll be safe there until we get back. It’s familiar. He has his food, his water, his litterbox, his bed.”

I began to protest: “What if he dies from shock?”

“Cathy, then so be it. That hand needs immediate attention.”  He placed the seemingly unconscious Bud in his bed, covering him lightly with his blanket, and we set off for the Health Centre.

It was not a pleasant ride through the mud and the rutted road. My hand throbbed intensely and I could really have used a seriously strong cup of tea.

The crew at the Argalasti Health Centre was fantastic. They always are. I felt so bad that we were disturbing them at a time when there was no other patient present – they deserve every break they can get. Instead I was the center of their attention.

“Do you know the cat? Is it feral?”  I assured them Bud was fully vaccinated.

“You’ll need a tetanus injection.”  I assured them I’d had one not a month ago when Mythos bit me, but that’s another story.

“You’re very brave.”  I assured them I wasn’t about to pitch hysterics.

My hand required a lot of treatment. I was cautioned what to do if it got any worse, given a prescription for antibiotics and was sent on my way under a shower of wishes for a good recovery and fervent hopes that they wouldn’t need to see me again. Not sure how to interpret that one!

Bud was a little more alert when we returned. I nursed him on my lap for the rest of the day. That is when I could spare the time from working my way through the collection of chocolate Ron had bought in Argalasti while we waited for the pharmacist.

By morning Bud was stronger though very subdued. Limping, of course. We set off again to Theresa. No fractures, but he did have a severe sprain and damage to the tissue. She gave him several medications by injection and prepared the syringes of antibiotic for Ron to inject him at home.

We also had to give him anti-inflammatory and pain meds orally, in addition to the cortisone he was still taking for his throat problem. Thank goodness he did take all that easily in his food.

Bud has not recovered his spirits, I’m afraid to say. Has the trauma affected him permanently? He’s subdued and timid, though as affectionate as ever. He’s hesitant to go outside, and you’ll see in the pictures that he hides away when he does. It bothers me to see him like this, though it’s good that he likes to spend his time indoors with me. Keeps him safe.

My hand has suffered too, no surprise there, for the bites were deep and into the bone and tendons. The swelling is almost completely gone, but my little finger will not bend properly, and there are painful lumps at the bite sites. It is, of course, my right hand that’s affected.

Ah well, I guess I have to hand it to Bud.

IS BUD ANY WEISER?

Bud

As I’ve already mentioned when we arrived back at the house there were kittens as well as adult cats awaiting us. Smart, those felines, for it’s relayed on the Kitty Underground that this is a Safe House.

The Cappuccino Twins were watching warily from under an orange tree as we climbed out of Paul’s car. Raki was beside himself to see Ron again, letting it be known loudly that His Sultanship was somewhat miffed. I guess I underestimated him, all of them, for I was convinced that neither he nor Mythos, Retsina and Ouzo would remember us, but it was as though we’d never left. Freddie and Kosta were with them all the time we were away; they and Stella had been anything but neglected.

Amidst the hustle and bustle of unloading I became aware that the Cappuccino Twins weren’t the only new kids on our rock. Far from it, for more and more wary moggies began creeping out of the forest as night fell. I admit I was dismayed. When finally I went to bed I was hoping that they’d depart for new accommodations once they perceived the house to be occupied by that great threat – humans. Some hope.

Clearly these two adorable girls are sisters. Grappa and Anise, as I soon named them, were waiting bright-eyed and eager on the porch when we awoke. No sign of fear, and their condition was good. Didn’t take me long to figure out that Freddie had been feeding them.

Not a problem, and even better was the fact that they were completely socialized. We have too many that aren’t. They arrive here driven by hunger, but are so intimidated that it’s impossible to tame them and as I’ve mentioned before this makes neutering very difficult.

A few days later along came their brother, soon to be dubbed Budweiser. I don’t know where he’d been but the twins were thrilled to see him. Freddie confirmed that he was with them and their mama when they’d first arrived at our house and as he was the same size as the twins, it’s safe to assume they’re littermates.

He’s a real cutie is Bud. Most affectionate, with a tiny little voice, Bud’s fond of communicating by way of the Silent Miaow.

He’d been extremely lively, fearless to the point of foolhardiness and had to be rescued on a number of occasions. It was interesting to watch him at play with the twins who are no slouches in the adventures department but Bud’s exuberance was unsurpassed. And then he began to cough. Just a little. Only occasionally. Not of any concern.

His cough became more frequent, so I dewormed him again. It made no difference, and we put this down to it needing a day or two to take the fullest effect. The cough became much worse. I suspected some form of cat flu for he’d not had his vaccines yet, but there were none of the other indications of such an infection.

Then he began wheezing. Not terribly, but he was definitely wheezing. Yet he’d lost none of his energy and was eating well, though I noticed he ate only the canned food and not any of the dry. Puzzling.

Several days later on a Saturday afternoon in February – some snow still about and the upper road a boggy mess – the wheezing suddenly became very pronounced, very bad indeed. We were extremely concerned. We are miles from our wonderful local vet Theresa, the best thing that ever came to Argalasti, who would not have been available at that time.

If there even is an emergency vet in Volos, it was pretty much out of the question to attempt the 90 minute drive with darkness approaching and snow on the ground. We felt we had no alternative but to put him to bed as usual. He and his sisters have separate beds, with heating, in a little room under the front steps, safe from predators of the night.

Sunday morning early we let them out, apprehensive as to what we would find. Bud emerged, coughing and wheezing as before, but as the day wore on it was clear this was no temporary affliction. He was getting weaker, struggling to breathe, and perhaps the most alarming was that Raki was willing to tolerate Bud on his chair.

Raki, that most possessive of cats, must have sensed something about Bud’s condition that softened his self-absorbed heart. We cuddled Bud and fretted all day until we locked him up for the night, anxious for Monday to dawn, anxious that he’d not get through to the morning.

When we opened his door on Monday we could see at once that Bud’s efforts to breathe left him in a state of near collapse. We were very alarmed. Having taken care of the rest of the furry and hairy ones early we left immediately with Bud for Argalasti, I trying to tune out the distressing sounds from the cat basket where he lay exhausted.

Theresa was her usual calm and reassuring self. She confirmed that Bud had no infection, and turned her attention to his mouth and throat. Bud resisted all her attempts to look down his throat, so she sedated him and after a few minutes he was limp enough to be examined.

“Ah,” she said, “see what’s here in the throat. The trachea is almost completely closed. He cannot get enough air through this very small opening. There is something in his throat that’s making such a big swelling that he cannot breathe. Look.”

“No thanks,” I muttered, but Ron peered at what she was indicating. Apparently the throat and junction with the trachea were greatly inflamed.

Theresa outlined the possible diagnosis. “There is something stuck here. I cannot say what it is. I cannot see it because the tissue has swollen up so much around it that it’s not possible to see. He will need an X-ray and that I cannot do. Probably he will need an operation. You will need to take him to Volos.”

A German who fell in love with and married a Greek, Theresa is a pragmatist. She’s a gem of a vet, a lovely person, mother of three, and very, very practical.

“What I can try,” she continued, “is to see if I can reduce the swelling so that I can tell better what is going on. You need to leave him here with me until at least Thursday.” This may not sound like a big deal but it is, for Theresa doesn’t have a large surgery, and does not typically keep animals overnight.

And so Bud stayed on in Argalasti. Theresa called in the evenings to report on his progress. He was on large doses of antibiotics and cortisone, and was beginning to improve, but what ailed him she couldn’t tell. She’d taken the opportunity to attend to his little buds, so that meant one more could be ticked off our neutering list. We collected him at noon on Thursday, and took him and his medications back home.

She’d prepared the syringes for Ron to give antibiotic shots over the next four days, and we crushed cortisone tablets into his food twice daily for many more days. Theresa could offer no guarantees, but the hope was that the crisis might have passed, and Bud would be spared the trauma of Volos and surgery.

Bud got better by leaps and bounds, quite literally, but he was thin and soon was obviously smaller than the Cappuccino Twins. His story doesn’t end there though, for the irrepressible Bud was racing headlong towards another and very different crisis, one which was to involve me directly.

Near CATastrophe

Two of our cats are sisters. The tortoiseshell is Retsina, the marmalade one is Ouzo; they are named for traditional Greek drinks.

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Inseparable

We took them into Volos to be neutered when they were little, confidently telling the vet that Retsina was a girl, and Ouzo a boy. He elected to operate on the girl first as the surgery is more involved. When he came to Ouzo, he called us: “You said this cat is male. Well, Ouzo is a girl, and should be called Ouzaki.” We were stunned.

I know that tortoiseshell cats are almost exclusively female, and that a male tortie is so rare as to be considered a freak, but I also believed that an all-ginger cat (no white at all) is exclusively male. Well, all-ginger females do occur. I must say, in a lifetime of being owned by cats, Ouzo is my first ever female ginger.

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Please, We’re Sleeping!


By the way, Retsina is a feminine noun, Ouzo a masculine, so yes, Ouzo should be Ouzaki, but her name has stuck and Ouzo she is. The vet still teases us about our knowledge of feline anatomy!

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Helpful Kittens

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And Yet More Help


Both cats are highly nervous, highly strung, very timid, which I attribute to their early days as kittens born to a semi-feral cat. In fact, many of our friends have never even seen them as they tend to hide away during the day. It gets quite hectic around here a great deal of the time as both are frightened of the other cats, and it’s often a case of “Shut the bedroom door! Ouzo’s on the bed!” or “Don’t let Raki into my study! Retsina’s in my chair!”

Sometimes they disappear all day, particularly in the summer, and only creep in through the cat flap at night to sleep inside, where they evidently feel safe. There are plenty of foxes about, feral cats, feral dogs, and even European Wildcats which can present a threat to them. But mostly they are intimidated by Raki. That little demon, much adored as he is, torments the poor girls at every opportunity, and their lives have never been the same since he arrived.

Where’s that pesky Raki?

Still Looking

Ouzo left the house early on Wednesday night – unusual that she didn’t sleep inside – and no sign of her all day yesterday. I called and called through the early evening, with the wind roaring and the waves crashing. Nothing. She did not put in an appearance. Not a trace of her this morning. She hadn’t come in during the night, and heavy rain had set in. I was extremely uneasy, to say the least. I’ve mentioned that few people remain in the village now, and that many houses are boarded up for the winter.

A ghastly thought began to run through my head. Surely not? I couldn’t put the notion that she was somehow locked in somewhere out of my mind, so I set off in the pelting rain, calling. I walked and called. Called and walked. Suddenly, a faint sound. Could it be? Was it a cat’s cry? I called again. A louder cry seemed to answer me. I stumbled on, confident that I was hearing Ouzo. Yes! Her crying was coming from a storage basement in a closed up holiday property nearby. I couldn’t see her at all, but she was clearly down there, and the owners are down in Athens.

So I did the only thing I could and activated the bush telegraph, which has been greatly improved since the advent of the mobile phone. I called Costa, our marvelous Albanian who is the general factotum of most of the village. He called Elias, our equally wonderful Albanian stonemason, who called I know-not-who, who located Niko, the caretaker, who has a key. He lives on the other side of the Pelion Peninsula, quite a long way to come on his old motorbike and in the rain. Bless the man, he said he’d come.

Meanwhile, my husband walked over to see what he could do. Ouzo beat him back to the house! We found out later that Niko had been at the property on Tuesday, securing it for the winter, and hadn’t noticed that the door to the little-used storeroom wasn’t properly locked. Ouzo must have sneaked inside and the wind blew the door shut. Hence her absence.

Ouzo’s asleep now in my study, well fed and warm, but Niko would not have been back for months. I think I need a drop of ouzo ….

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Retsina, not appearing to miss Ouzo

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Ouzo Recovering