No Pip squeaks during another trip to the vet’s

Pre-op spruce-up for little Pip

Pre-op spruce-up for little Pip

Pip – who arrived at our finca as a tiny kitten (almost certainly abandoned) – has this week joined the growing list of felines we’ve had neutered since we have lived in rural Mallorca. At around six months of age, she was beginning to show signs of coming into oestrous. With a large, rather aggressive tom often wandering through our finca, on the prowl for the kind of action she would soon have been willing to offer him, it was time for yet another visit to our excellent local vet’s in Manacor.

The cute little poppet had previously been there shortly after her arrival, where she had been photographed, fussed, examined, and presented with her own passport (after being vaccinated). Unlike Minstral (our Birman, who lives indoors) and the rest of our adopted glaring – all ferals – she doesn’t seem to mind travelling in the car and didn’t utter a single squeak from inside her carrying case.

Pip was sterilized on Tuesday morning, and the patient is now supposedly taking it easy for a few days. She had a short supervised outing in this morning’s warm sunshine, on the terrace, bouncing about like a little lamb. Apart from the shaved patch on her flank and the dressing over the incision wound, you’d never know she’d had an operation.

Her sterilization wasn’t the only thing the vet dealt with. Apparently our pretty kitty also had acne on her chin, which has now been treated. Who knew that cats could get the condition most often associated with the trials of teenage life? We certainly didn’t. It seems there’s always something new to learn when you have cats in your life . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Mallorcan moggy mystery

Something weird has happened. And I don’t like it when something strange cannot be logically explained.

When we took on the role of ‘adopted parents’ to some Mallorcan feral cats, we decided that we would have them all neutered when they reached the appropriate time. On Tuesday it was the turn of Peanut, the tiny ginger kitten that arrived – seemingly from nowhere – at the end of October 2013.

The Boss delivered her to the vet’s in the morning for the operation. The veterinary nurse pointed out the nick in Peanut’s ear – it looks as though she’d either been in a fight or had the defect at birth. The Boss explained it had been there when she arrived. The nurse called in one of the vets to look at it, and then a second. The trio of animal experts informed The Boss that a nick in the ear like this is usually an indication that a feral cat has been neutered.

Peanut was no more than two months when she arrived at our finca – and probably more like a month – so surely sterilization was unlikely? A battle scar or birth defect seemed more likely. The vets took her to the operating theatre.

Patient discharged . . .

When we collected her a few hours later, we had some very surprising news: Peanut had already been sterilized – as our vet discovered when he opened up our little bundle of fun. He sewed up the wound and sent her home.

Of course, we’re delighted that Peanut isn’t facing a few days of discomfort, medication and convalescence in our annexe bedroom – but we cannot understand how a tiny kitten of probably less than two months of age came to be neutered.

Have you ever come across anything like this before? We certainly haven’t.

Homeward-bound Peanut, sporting a cute leopard-print plaster on her leg.

Homeward-bound Peanut, sporting a cute leopard-print plaster on her leg.

 

Unclucky for some . . .

We currently have two poorly pusscats: Sweetie and her big brother Beamer (who only recently had the ordeal of being tied up somewhere by someone, until he escaped – twine still tightly around his neck – and came home). They’ve picked up a virus which has left them with a nasty case of the trots. They’re temporarily indoor cats – about which they’re not too thrilled – in quarantine in our annexe, in separate cages. Still, they’re happier there than during the car journeys to the vet’s in recent days  . . .

For the time being, we’re having to medicate them twice daily, give them a special diet (and lots of extra TLC), and clean out their cages several times a day. Thank heavens for disposable gloves and antibacterial spray. And Betadine, for all the scratches we’ve sustained to exposed bodily parts during attempts to pop pills and administer their liquid medicine. The latter smells of oranges and lemons (not favourites on the feline menu) and obviously tastes vile, as it makes the cats foam at the mouth.

A home for hens?

With our sick cat care duties currently consuming a surprising amount of our time, it doesn’t seem appropriate to broach the subject of keeping more animals. Since we moved to rural Mallorca nearly ten years ago, I’ve had a hankering for hens. We have plenty of land where we could let them run free, and I’m sure The Boss could knock up a suitable hen house in a spare few hours; for an ex-banker he can turn his hand to a very impressive variety of DIY tasks.

But as much as I’d love to be able to collect fresh eggs from our own free-ranging chickens, I think we’re probably stretched to our animal-keeping limit – certainly when it comes to veterinary expenses. Besides, with seven feline adoptees stalking about the place, our finca in Mallorca could be a dangerous place for a feathered flock. I recently learnt that one of the collective nouns for cats is a glaring – and I can just imagine that’s what seven pairs of eyes would be doing if we had chickens strutting around the field!

So, I’ve no need to learn the art of chicken-keeping. I’ll just stick to chickens as art – the only hens likely to call our finca home.

No eggs - just my cluck!

No eggs – just my cluck!

Beamer’s nine lives take a hit

A confident Beamer on gatepost duty - before his bad experience.

A confident Beamer on gatepost duty – before his bad experience.

Anyone who has been ‘adopted’ by feral cats will know that it’s impossible not to become emotionally involved with them. Things can happen that can break your heart. And they do. Jetta, the pregnant stray who adopted us in early 2011, produced four kittens in her first litter. One – a pretty little female – lost her life at an early age when she jumped from an almond tree straight into the path of a car driving down the lane.

Her thriving siblings Beamer, Dusty and Bear were soon joined by Jetta’s second litter of five kittens. Bear – a lovely black cat who was possibly The Boss’s favourite – went off one day earlier this year and just didn’t return. The same thing happened with Jetta, who had become so friendly and contented after we had her sterilized. Both cats came every day for food at the usual times, and had done so for some two years. Why would they stop? We found nothing to solve the mystery of their disappearance.

The Boss had to remind me of something that my emotional attachment to our cat family makes me overlook: these are feral cats and they behave instinctively. Perhaps the call of the wild had finally caught up with Bear and Jetta? I still find it hard to accept but that’s only because I apply human rationale to their actions.

‘Bye ‘bye Beamer?

I was particularly upset a fortnight ago when Beamer – the alpha male of our outdoor cat family – didn’t appear for dinner, or for his breakfast the following morning. It was totally unlike Beamer not to be sitting on the steps near our front door, waiting for his bowl of food. But he had shown some uncharacteristic hostility towards Peanut, the little ginger kitten that appeared – dumped – on our land late last month. Could Beamer – a normally sweet-natured cat – have been driven away by this mewling little mite?

“He’s a feral cat,” The Boss had to remind me (again). “Wandering off is what they do. It was obviously his time.”

I was far more upset than I should have been, but Beamer had always been a special cat with a gentle and apparently caring nature. When Jetta became tired of providing milk for her second litter, the little ones took to sucking on Beamer’s tummy fur. He must have wondered what was going on, but happily laid back and allowed his little siblings to snuggle up to his tummy and attempt to find something that didn’t exist! Even though the kittens are now just over two years old, the bond between them and Beamer had remained strong. I couldn’t believe that he would have left, and feared he’d met with an accident or a hunter’s gun.

The return of Beamer

“You’ll never believe who’s here,” The Boss said on Sunday afternoon when he looked out of the window and saw Beamer crossing the terrace towards the house. But as we went out to meet him, it was obvious that all was not well. Someone had knotted plastic twine around his neck, leaving a length of it trailing like a lead. I felt sick thinking about why someone would do such a thing to a cat. The Boss held onto him as I rushed indoors for scissors to release him from the restrictive ‘collar’. It was so tight we didn’t dare cut the twine for fear of cutting him too, so we made another of our emergency visits to our vet’s which, thankfully, is open seven days a week.

Released from his twine ‘collar’, Beamer remained subdued. Tests established that he’d lost weight, was dehydrated, had a low potassium count, a high temperature, and a grazed nose. We came home minus 175 euros, plus lots of medication and, most importantly, with Beamer. We kept him in our annexe bedroom for a couple of nights, giving him plenty of affection and some quiet time to recover from his ordeal. He seemed pleased to be back with us and we’re relieved and delighted to have him back.

Physically he seems to be making a good recovery. But who knows how he is feeling about life and the world after what must have been a really distressing episode in his life? At least he managed to find his way back from wherever he was to our finca. And, yes, I’m projecting human emotions onto a cat again, but surely that means he feels that this is home . . .

Welcome home, Beamer.

 

Read about the latest flavoured salt launched by Flor de Sal d’Es Trenc, Mallorca, on my other blog: www.eatdrinksleepmallorca.com

Goodbye Jetta

This is the post I didn’t want to write, but it’s now been more than a week since we last saw Jetta – the little black cat who gave birth to two litters of kittens – most of whom have adopted us and our finca as their home.

In autumn 2010 we saw Jetta for the first time, when we arrived home to see a tiny black kitten on our large terrace. It scuttled away into the shrubs and we didn’t see it again for some time. But it wasn’t long before the little black cat was a regular visitor; it spent much of its time at the holiday home finca of some vegetarian friends from Yorkshire. They would treat it to a bowl of leftover vegetarian casserole from time to time – which she evidently demolished happily.

Sometimes the little black cat – we named her Jetta (she was jet black) – came to our finca, where we fed her cat biscuits and made sure there was water available for her. When our friends returned to the UK in February 2011 after their winter break, Jetta realized that her future source of food – other than anything she could catch – would be us.

Eating for a clan

Jetta became a regular visitor, with a voracious appetite. It wasn’t long before we decided we were feeding her too much, because she was becoming rather portly around the middle. It wasn’t long afterwards that we realized that she was pregnant. We’ll never forget March 31st of that year, when this small bewildered cat gave birth. She’d been spending a lot of time in the adjoining abandoned finca and we assumed it was where she’d decided to have her litter.

Pregnant for the first time

Pregnant for the first time

On what turned out to be The Big Day, Jetta was very restless, crying pitifully, and lumbering around the terraces. She seemed to want us to be with her, so we watched, waited, and tried to comfort her. It wasn’t long before she waddled slowly down the field to the next-door finca, stopping every few yards to check that we were with her. As she reached the stone wall, she turned to look at us, as if to say she’d be OK now. She scrambled up over the wall and disappeared to do her duty.

She gave birth to four kittens, although we didn’t see them for a few weeks. One was sadly hit by a car in the lane while still quite young, but Beamer, Dusty, and Bear are all still with us. And – now two years old – have grown to be much larger than their mum.

And again . . .

Jetta – obviously rather liberal with her favours – had her second litter almost indecently soon afterwards: this time there were five kittens – three of which (Chico, Sweetie, and Nibbles) are still regular visitors for food. Once she’d recovered from this pregnancy and had finished feeding her kittens, we took her to be speyed. When we went to collect her after the operation, the vet told us she had been in the early stages of yet another pregnancy. What a hard life for such a young cat.

Enough already!

Despite her young age, Jetta was an excellent mum, and wouldn’t stand any nonsense from her large brood. For a while, she wanted to put some distance between herself and the kittens, choosing to wait for her food at the back door, while the hungry little mouths mewed insistently outside the front door. She’d hiss at them if they tried to approach her, and sometimes give them a little swipe with her paw if they tried to sneak a crafty suckle.

In recent months she’d become more accepting of her family and been a regular visitor, coming twice most days for her food, which she now ate in the company of her family – and the little interloper Shorty, whom she eventually tolerated. Occasionally we’d see her giving one of her brood – all of them larger than her – a quick wash around the ears, or some other area she felt they’d been neglecting.

Happy memories 

Jetta was a good mum, and gave us a lot of pleasure. She’d come to us if we called her and, if she was at the bottom of the field, she’d lope up towards the house, then brush against our legs. She’d have made a lovely domestic pet – although Minstral, our Birman, would have had other ideas!

She’d been such a regular visitor recently – and content to be among her family – that we can only assume that her absence for more than a week is not good news. We’ve seen no sign of her in the lanes, but much of the terrain around here is not accessible as far as mounting a search goes.

We’ll probably never know what has happened to Jetta, but we do know that she had a lot of love in her short life – and has left a legacy of adorable cats who will always remind us of her.

Thank you, Jetta. God bless.

Operation Shorty

No longer like a toy that's lost its stuffing

No longer like a toy that’s lost its stuffing

If you’re a regular reader of Living in Rural Mallorca, you’ll know that we have quite a clan of cats who consider our finca to be their territory – and local restaurant. The latest addition to our cat family joined us in August 2012, making his first mark on our lives by biting The Boss (who subsequently required a hospital visit and a tetanus jab).  Little Shorty was ginger, only a few weeks old, dragging an injured back leg around with him, and so thin that he looked like a soft toy that had lost its stuffing. We had tried to catch the little thing to take it to the vet’s for treatment, but hadn’t expected him to be quite so feisty.

Long story short, Shorty is now a firm fixture in our feline family. He’s wormed his way into the affections (and food bowls) of the other cats – who are all from the same mother. He’s the one who sits closest to the front door when it’s feeding time, and is the last to ‘leave the table’, having cleaned all of the bowls of any crumbs. He is, as the Spanish say about something so cute, a bomboncito.

But Shorty has recently been exhibiting signs of impending manhood: spray-marking, getting a bit aggressive with some of his adopted ‘family’, and yowling for a bit of female action. This week, we decided it was time for him to be neutered. Catching him was easy: Shorty loves a little cuddle in the mornings, so afterwards we scooped him into the travelling cage and took him to our local vet’s.

It’s a snip

He’s the seventh feral cat we’ve had neutered, so we’re rather well known there. It’s a pity they don’t have a loyalty scheme, really. We have huge respect for the whole team there, and everything they’ve done for our adopted and our own cats.  When we moved to Mallorca, bringing our rescue Maine Coon and Birman cats with us, I was concerned that we wouldn’t find the level of expertise and care that we’d experienced at our local practice in the UK. I needn’t have worried: I doubt we’d find better veterinary – or pet owner – treatment anywhere. (When our Maine Coon was diagnosed with lymphoma and had his first session of chemotherapy, the veterinary nurse brought us coffees and a couple of chocolates to sustain us as we sat with him.)

After his post-op recuperation in our annexe bedroom, Shorty is now back to his normal cheeky little ginger self. We have no idea where he came from, but wherever he goes in the future (as much as we’d love him to stay, he’ll probably make his own way in the world one day), he should be safer now that’s he neutered.

Only Chico is left to have his ‘little op’ now. And the most nervous member of our little cat family will certainly be a challenge to catch; pass the falconer’s gauntlets please . . .