Wednesday, March 23, 2005

The obligatory cat post

(Because every blog has to have a cat post.)

Tinyhands' unappreciative post on cat offerings reminded me of my old cat in NZ, who wasn't usually a very good hunter but one time managed to surprise us both by catching an eel.

He brought it home for me to deal with. I'd just woken up, and it was not exactly a pleasant addition to my morning routine when he dragged a large, bleeding, writhing eel through the cat door and deposited it at my feet. But it was my own fault. I'd been teaching him how to fish by throwing small sticks into the creek which we'd then hook out again. He liked that game, despite all the paw-flicking it caused, and had apparently been practicing on his own. He seemed fairly taken aback at the result. He stood well back, looking at it squirm bloodily on the kitchen floor, and looking at me, then back at the eel again, as if to say, Well? I've been following your instructions and this happened. NOW what? I had to agree it was a pretty funny looking stick.

The only other thing he'd ever managed to catch was roadkill. It was always the same roadkill, too: the Frisbee Rat. I called it the Frisbee Rat because it was completely flat and hard (and didn't even smell, it was so desiccated) and you could throw it like a frisbee. This is what I did, every time he brought it home. I'd throw it waaaay up into the bush, and he'd watch it sail through the air and land in the trees and then he'd have a wash, pretending not to care. But a week or so later he'd turn up again with this great flat rat sticking out of his mouth, looking like a waiter carrying a bizarrely shaped tray in his mouth. Fortunately it was too wide to fit through the cat door.

Despite his little ways I was fond of that cat, and I think he liked me, too. One time he even saved my life, by giving me mouth-to-mouth after I fainted. I was having a rather extreme reaction to a bee-sting at the time. I didn't know that was why I was so sick, or even that I was so sick.

I'd never been allergic to bees before, and it was an extreme but also very slow reaction, so I thought I just happened to have caught some horrible virus coincidentally. When your temperature goes through the roof and you keep throwing up and passing out it's not easy to put two and two together, particularly when it's 24 hours after the bee sting. A big hint was the swelling on my toe gradually spreading up to my thigh, I suppose, but my experience of allergic reactions to bee stings was entirely garnered from my brother, who would have difficulty breathing within half an hour of the sting. That didn't happen to me, and I didn't know there was any other way to be allergic.

The cat knew, though. He was uncharacteristically attentive, sitting by my head and watching me in a way he didn't usually. He usually slept at the end of the bed, but that night every time I woke up (or came round) he'd be peering into my face. All night he followed me to the bathroom, and back again, and was generally behaving like an anxious mother. I found this comforting - my housemates were away at the time - until I took too long to pick myself off the floor and he performed his emergency procedure.

Having a cat give you mouth-to-mouth is the fastest way to get a stupidly sick person to a hospital, I discovered, if only to prevent it from happening again. It brought me round very effectively and quickly, and in that terrible moment of hyper-alertness brought on by cat breath I knew something was horribly wrong, and phoned for help before passing out again. At the hospital the doctor told me I had been very lucky this time, and not to wait so long next time. If I'd waited much longer it would have been too late, he said, and next time it was likely to happen faster.

I went home and thanked the cat. He got all embarrassed and washed himself vigorously. A thought balloon appeared over his head: Better not tell her I was just checking to see if she was dead yet so I could have her for breakfast.

I pretended not to see it.


tinyhands said...


suki said...

as allergic as i am to cats, i made a cat post too.

Paula said...

What a great story! I can just see kitty staring at that eel.

I might be allergic to bee stings, too. Next time I get one, if I die, then we'll know.

Anonymous said...

One of my cats came home all muddy. He was swimming in the pond, and brought me two catfish! (About 8" long each). Crazy cat! He didn't eat them though, and one was still alive, so I threw it back. It's amazing how long catfish can live out of water!

Badaunt said...

Tinyhands: Are you laughing WITH me, or AT me?

Suki: I noticed. :-) Cats are blog-genic.

Paula: I was told by a doctor here that the toxin stays in your body for at least 5 years. If you have not had a sting for five years since your last allergic reaction, then you're probably OK. I had three stings in a month, and it was the third that made me react. The other two had almost no effect except the usual slight swelling and so on. It's been way more than five years now, so maybe I'm OK now... and maybe not. There's only one way to find out and I'm not about to volunteer!

Pimme: You cat liked to SWIM? Mine hated getting wet, which is why I enjoyed the stick game so much. He'd get all agitated every time he stuck his paw in the water, flicking and carrying on, but couldn't resist trying again when I threw another one in. His intense concentration as he watched the stick in the water made me laugh.

Ms Vile File said...

Your cat deserves a medal!

My cat caught a mouse once, and left it lovingly in the middle of the kitchen for us to inspect. Unfortunately, I got up while it was still dark, and didn't know about the cat's trophy until I stood on it. Nothing wakes you up quicker than having a dead mouse stuck to the bottom of your bare foot.

Badaunt said...

I thought he deserved a medal too, but he wasn't much interested. He preferred fish.

But... a dead mouse? Stuck to a bare foot? Eek! Ew! Argh! Barf!

stephen said...

...and the cat has strategically weakened the mouse so that when you step on it:
- the head separates from the body
- the head gets stuck between two of your toes
- your weight causes the mouse-insides to squirt/smear all over the floor and the underside of your foot.

Cheers, The Sneak.

Ms Vile File said...

Dammit. What happened to my last comment.

Something about how right the Sneak was... head did separate, etc. It was horrible. Mr sneak must have personal experienc eof this phenomenon. Tukky.

Ms Vile File said...

YUKKY! Double-dammit.