The Cut

The first cut is the deepest, right? I haven’t been updating this blog as I would have done normally because a lot has been going on, but also a really hurtful comment cut me to the quik and I just couldn’t pick myself up afterwards.

Normally stuff like that doesn’t bother me. The person who made it is a nasty piece of work, obviously with a lot of personal issues but there are times when comments do hurt.

Anyway I picked myself up as I always do and got professional advice. The professional in question was hugely encouraging and told me never to listen to people like that and always go with my gut. He said to me you know your animal better than anyone else (just like you know your child). Isn’t it interesting how people like the nasty piece of work have neither chick nor child, but yet sit in judgement on those of us who do?

My baby

Life was chugging along nicely, despite the lockdown. One Saturday evening, after a day working outside in garden, I went to feed all. The only one who didn’t appear was Honky. I called her then could see her lying in between my first two paddocks. I went to see what was up. She was lying in the shade and couldn’t seem to get up, even though she was trying.

I rang the vets and Thomas arrived in less than an hour. He checked her thoroughly and said she had a slight temperature but she’d been lying most of the day in the sun. Other than that nothing else wrong. He gave her a vitamin injection, a steroid, an antibiotic and told me to see how she was over next few days. He gave me an antibiotic and an anti inflammatory to inject for the next three days.

Sick and sore

She stayed out all that night, much to my distress but at least it was warm and there wasn’t rain forecast. I dragged out straw and banked it up around her. I left her water and food and checked on her several times before I went to bed. I didn’t sleep much and was back out to her at 5.45am.

My good friend Martha in Wales (a small free range pig farmer) had messaged me and suggested it might be mycoplasma arthritis and she’d need a different antibiotic. I waited until 9am and rang Thomas. He met me and gave me the new antibiotic.

She jumped up the next day after my neighbour injected her. I had tried but couldn’t get the needle in and she had got really distressed. She jumped up after he injected her and started to stagger towards the shed so we went behind her encouraging her to keep going. The relief was immense. At least I knew she was in and had shelter.

She improved daily and was mad to get out. I had fenced off a small area outside the shed initially but she had stumbled out as far as the fence and looked sadly at me. So I made the biggest mistake ever and let her out. I went into the third paddock to check the newly-planted trees and heard a shriek. I think the sow chased her and tried to bite her (re-exerting her dominance). When I got back to her she was distressed and seemed to want to go back to the shed. She was falling and stumbling but I went behind her and held her tail to steady her. I don’t know how I knew this. I think I’d read it somewhere but it worked. She managed to make it back but was really distressed and hyperventilating.

I’m not sure but I think she must have injured her back because she was back to square one. I rang the vet and he suggested giving another course of antibiotics. I went and got them. But then started thinking; I really felt like I needed a second opinion. My neighbour recommended another vet. Initially when I spoke to him he was reluctant to barge in. But I convinced him to take a look at her. He arrived out and thoroughly checked her over, gave her a pain killer and injected her with the second course of antibiotic and anti inflammatory. He said if she didn’t stand up it wasn’t a great sign but felt she would in an hour or so and told me to check her. She stood up two hours after he left!

She perked up initially and then went back downhill. I felt she was in pain and remembered sachets of anti-inflammatories the original vet had given me after she’d had her feet pared. I started her on them and once again she picked up. But she was struggling to walk. I asked another neighbour to have a look at her. She’s a physiotherapist and had told me she’d worked on horses.

She began to treat her daily. After 10 minutes the first day she stood up and had a wee. We held onto each other in disbelief. From then on she was able to stand easily and walk backwards…

Going forwards was more difficult and her right leg didn’t seem to know what to do. Carole reckoned she had the equivalent of a slipped disc. She worked on her every day for a week. She worked on the muscles mostly, hoping that taking the tension out of the leg and lumbar region would relieve the pressure on her nerve.

Physio

A couple of days after the second vet had come out, he rang to see how she was doing. When I told him about the physio his exact words were “wow, keep it up.” He told me she could stay on the anti inflammatories for quite a while and to see how she was on them.

Second time out

After another session with Carole, I left her do do some work outside. When I went to check her later she had vanished. My heart stopped and I ran out to look for her. I found her out at the back of the shed having a root. I panicked and tried to get her back in. She was mad at me but managed to get back in with difficulty – cutting her back feet badly when she fell.

She was back to square one again. This time she was depressed and literally stopped eating. She hadn’t been eating a lot but I had managed to get some food and “nice stuff” into her (mostly fruit). I was really worried. In fact three times I had planned her funeral. Every time I had done, she made a comeback.

I decided to throw the kitchen sink at her one last time and then give up. I knew I had to get her to eat. I kept at her coaxing her to eat, trying to fool her by putting “nice stuff” into her food. The tramp sussed out the nice stuff like a heat-seeking missile and spat her own food out. She even refused to drink. I sat beside her with a syringe and squirted water, then kefir into her mouth. She began to grab the syringe and suck like mad. I balled up her food and she ate some from my hand. Initially she was really gentle but as she got the taste for it, I was afraid she’d bite me and having had to go on two antibiotics in the past after she accidentally bit me, I really didn’t want to go there again.

I got a spoon and she learned really quickly how to eat from it. I’m not sure if the reason she’d given up trying to eat was that sitting up was sore or what. But anyway she’s now back eating and drinking herself. She had a lot of involuntary jerking when she stood up in her back right leg but that seems to have settled. So now I’m hoping she will start to get stronger standing and moving. She’s making a better attempt moving forward and doesn’t seem to lose her balance so easily. She’s not out of the woods by a long shot but she’s much more herself.

The comment made was that I was keeping her alive for my own “ego” and to publicise my blog …….

I’m not sure how being that stressed with worry about her, I couldn’t sleep or eat properly benefitted my ego, but sure lookit. On the positive side I reckon I’ve lost a stone. And as for publicising this blog………

I have never given up easily on anything in life and I won’t give up on her as long as she isn’t suffering or miserable. I saved her life at two days old and fought to keep her alive. We (myself and my son) worked on her when she couldn’t walk, doing our own rudimentary physio on her. I have looked after her every day since, making sure she was healthy and happy and never in pain.

Just because she’s a pig and not a dog or a horse with laminitis, doesn’t mean she isn’t worthy of effort. Just because she’s a pig and most pigs are reared in miserable factory farms, doesn’t mean she doesn’t deserve a good life. Just because she’s a pig doesn’t mean she can’t be a pet. Just because she’s a pig doesn’t mean I can’t love her.

The Fat Cat

Always broody looking

The Fat cat aka Fat Kitty was put to sleep today 21st March 2019. I had him almost exactly 9 years. I found a photo of him from May 2010. We got him from a farm in Trim Co. Meath. He was pulled out from his nest between bales of straw by my daughter and her friend from pony club. She later read that when you take a kitten away from it’s mother too early it makes them very nervous. He was really, really odd. My brother called him The Enigma because he only ever got a glimpse of him. When strangers arrived he hid. In fact he hid under my bed when my daughter came home from university and then used sneak out and sit on the stairs observing her from a distance until he decided it was her. My son named him the Fat B*astard (he never stopped eating) and as he had mostly been called Kitty up to this, he became Fat Kitty. It suited him. And he knew his name.

Keeping watch over Honky robbing chicken food

He played with my first Jack Russell. He played with every kitten. He was gentle with the piglets that I raised (initially he was scared of them). He then slept out in the woodshed with Honky in my last place. He often lay on the ground in front of the pigs and had a roll. They would sniff him and he would jump up and hop off indignantly. My son described his run as a “big gay one” and it was.

When I decided to move here I actually had sleepless nights worrying about how he would cope. If he escaped he would be so freaked he would head for the hills. When he was outside he reverted to really weird and there was no way you could catch him. It was a major operation to fool him once the removal company had left. He knew something was up and was highly suspicious. I did manage to catch him and The Thug, my daughter’s cat who I was minding when she went off around the world. They both spent the night in the empty house and next morning were put into cages and travelled down here. Neither stopped complaining for 4 hours. They didn’t get on and had fought from the beginning. In fact FK had been to the vet a couple of times with injuries. The Thug was far more aggressive than he was and he always came off the worst.

I had to keep them in for a month. The Thug went out after 3 weeks and FK escaped one night when I opened the door to let the dogs in. I was distraught and figured that was last I’d ever see of him. But next morning he appeared out of the hay shed and when I opened the front door he shot back in. I think he slept with the pigs and realised if they were here, it was home. He didn’t go out for another few weeks. And then he was more relaxed than he’d ever been. He seemed to be much less freaked when strangers were around, and there was a lot with builders, plumbers, roofers etc. He loved the fields and used lie up on the ditches waiting for baby rabbits to appear. He lay under the hedge in the first paddock watching all the goings on out on the road and around the yard.

He was a different cat: until Nelly appeared. He wasn’t scared of her initially but when she grabbed him in her mouth and shook him, that really freaked him. He vanished for a day and a night. Once more I thought I’d never see him again. Once more he reappeared but he wouldn’t come near the house or the yard. It was about this time I began to feed him in the shed and put his bed out there. He spent the nights outside during the Beast from the East. He was actually quite cosy because he had a luxury dog bed on top of straw bales.

I thought he and The Thug had reached an entente cordiale as they seemed to just circle about each other all last summer. But I think now this abscess that ultimately killed him was from them fighting. The results came back as a round cell mass caused by his attack or defence cells fighting an infection. It was a type of lymphoma. He just couldn’t fight off the infection that set in after the surgery to remove the mass. He had 7 antibiotics, anti-inflamatories, steroids, two surgeries, a night on a drip, intensive care treatment here including from my son and his NICU nurse girlfriend when I went to my aunt’s funeral in Galway. He was almost put down twice but we gave him every fighting chance.

Relaxing in the sun on Paddy’s Day

This last week he was eating, drinking and seemed not to be in pain but only because he was still on the anti-inflamatories. Since he stopped them and went onto the steroids he virtually stopped eating and was pitifully thin. Last night before I went to bed I watched him wobble over to his litter box and realised the swelling on his neck was making him lame in his front shoulder. I made the decision I probably should have made a week ago.

I rang the vets first thing and asked if any of the vets were in the area would they call in. They rang me back to say Mary was. She treated both Honky and the weaner pig last summer. She sedated him first so he just went to sleep on his chair. Then when she administered the stuff he began to breath really roughly. I was very upset because it reminded me of when dad got his first morphine when he was dying.

I buried him in the field I kept promising him he would be out again in the summer when he got better. I’m going to plant a tree beside him soon, something that flowers now. And from now on I’ll think to myself Fat Kitty’s tree is flowering.

His grave

I went for a walk in Tintern at lunchtime. I cried the whole way around and God help anyone who said anything to me about Nelly not being on a lead. We only came across a couple and their young children who took one look at my tear stained face and said nothing. I picked some lesser celandine and ferns for his grave and there’s a small clump of primroses growing beside where he’s buried.

I told him to find dad and go sit on his knee and tell him how much I miss them both.

When I got back to the house his empty chair made me cry again.

He was just a cat; but he was my cat.

Be happy Fat Kitty.