August 24th, 2007


Think good thoughts, would you...?

I'm using the icon of my current female companion - but long before Boboko, there was Murphy.

Murphy came about when I first moved to New Zealand, alone and lonely, and wanted a warm furry body in the house for when I came home from work. A dog was out of the question because of certain aspects of dog-ownership - I was out of the house all day and a dog couldn't be left alone for all that time, so - although I had never had one before - I decided that a cat was called for. So I looked at the noticeboard at the place I worked, and there were several cats "looking for homes", so I decided to investigate the matter.

The first one I found was a perfectly sane, perfectly ordinary cat. We looked at one another, tipped each other's hats in one another's direction in a metaphorical manner, and walked away.

The next cat was Murphy.

Six months old, a silver mackerel tabby (think grey tortoisehell with stripey bits), the youngest cat in his then-current household (approximately six months old at the time) and ruling the household with an iron paw - the other two resident cats didn't eat until he gave them permission to approach the foodbowl. He had cattitude in spades, and it was painfully obvious that his family doted on him - but Murph had a bad habit of liking to get into your face, and the couple who had him had just had their first baby, and there was no way they could convince Murphy that the baby's face should not be got into. It was the cat or the baby, and they gave away the cat - although, when I came to pick him up to take him home, his "dad" practically almost begged me to take his first-born son and leave that cat behind.

I took him home to a house still empty of furniture. He emerged from his carrier like ET, all neck, looked around, hopped out of the carrier, stuck his tail in the air, and went into every room to investigate it for, as I later told people, emergency exits. Once he had given the entire house the once-over, he returned upstairs to the living room and the pile of cushions that served as a sofa, flopped over in a heap, and went to sleep. That was it. "My house. Okay." That night he turned up in my bed as if by right, "This is where I sleep. You don't have a say in the matter." I quickly learned that the name was not accidental - my home became run by Murphy's Law - which could be summed up in one sentence as "My way or not at all."

He was the smoochiest, cuddliest cat imaginable... with family, at home. Take him to the vet - well - the first time we did that he hooked a paw into the vet's stethoscope and ripped it out of the poor guy's ears and sent it flying across the room (the next time he was brought in, a year later, the vet took one look and said, "Oh, it's *you*.")

When I left home to get married, Murphy stayed with my folks and although I am still the only one who can physically pick him up without being shredded for it he is THEIR cat now. He is thirteen and a half, a venerable old gent, still quite spectacular, a huge cat with a leonine head and a self-possessed swagger. He's an indoor cat now, not like his heydays when he ruled the neighbourhood and picked fights with every hapless feline that blundered into his territory. When, about two weeks ago, the family reported him as having a "swollen ear" everyone assumed that he had been bitten by something out on the balcony and that the swelling was a reaction to that. But the ear quickly became swollen tight, almost round in shape; repeated home medication of various sorts didn't help. Despite being a vet terror, he was gathered up and taken to the vet this morning to have the ear dealt with. The upshot was anaesthesia (because they couldn't get near him otherwise), and then, after a closer examination, surgery - he had a full-blown inner ear infection, one which had blown up on the inner side of the eardrum, which it then punctured when a haematoma formed in the ear.

I went to bring him home this afternoon. He is drug-stupid, he eats but won't drink, he blunders about like a drunk thing and his poor ear looks like it had been sewn on by Dr Frankenstein. He has to wear an elizabethan collar and the first one they gave him was too big and he was practically tripping over it and breaking his neck so we went to get a smaller one but I'm not sure how it'll ever get back on again - he's no less hissy and ornery than he ever was when things are done to him of which he does not approve. He has to go back in two weeks to get the stitches out - but right now he's groggy, miserable, dehydrated, probably in pain, and taking care of him will be a full-time job for a while because he can't be let out of someone's sight - and once he goes in for the stitches removal they said they'll anaesthetise him again which means that the whole thing needs to be gone through once more before it's all over.

Think good thoughts. He's been a good cat, a great cat, a character, a member of my family for nearly fourteen years. He needs a few good vibes his way.

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Think good thoughts. Think good thoughts tonight.