Thursday, 26 November 2009


Wednesday morning and I had to cut short my regular swim by 4 lengths (which might not sound much but I swim so slowly that totals eight minutes) in order to get home for 8.30 in case the gas men came to fix our gas fire. Needless to say, they didn't. Fair do's though, they did arrive at 8.50.

In the middle of the mess, Susan popped out of the car to put something for the shop in the backseat. I was sitting down with my back to the window and talking to the gas fitter when Susan suddenly hammered on the window as she gestured for me to come outside.

"There's a stray dog in the street," she said, "It's just chased Twister." Twister being the cat owned and left outside in all weathers by the family opposite. Then she said, "I think it's Jake. Let's get him in the kitchen."

Jake is one of two dogs fostered by the main Animal Krackers van driver, Ian Fullerlove, and when I saw the dog it did look like Jake. It also acted like him -lively, directionless, brainless. So I cleared the cats out of the way and got Jake into the kitchen. Not that this was difficult as he'd been here before several times and knew where the food is. When I think about it, food always tends to be in the kitchen which is always at the back of a house, so no extra points for Jake.

I rang Ian and said, "Have you lost Jake?"

"Yes, but how do you know?" So I told him.

Apparently he's having his rented house done out and, though he'd locked the two dogs out the back, one of the several workmen who had arrived after Ian had explained about the dogs, opened the door to the yard and Jake followed  by Sam barrelled their way through the house and out the front door. One word from Ian and Sam shot back inside,  but Jake kept going. This had all happened about 15 minutes before he arrived in our street which he must have made for immediately (assuming a trotting pace rather than a run, with frequent pauses for for sniffing). Although he'd never been walked from Ian's house to ours, he had been walked back on a number of occasions and it's too much of a coincidence for him to have arrived here by chance.

So Jake was never lost at all, he knew exactly where he was going. The piece of luck came in that Susan just happened to be in the street when Jake arrived. He may have hung around or come up to our front door or he might have then wandered off and got really lost.

Oh well, if Jake gets out again, Ian knows what to do.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009


Been a fairly quiet week on the cat front. I took a couple of cats from Carol's at different times to Vets4Pets. One, Hettie from Hetton, needed checking to see if she needed stronger tablets for her thyroid problem but got an open verdict. Then there was Melba who needed her teeth seeing to but had her bloods checked first which proved okay so I'm taking her this Thursday morning.

This morning, after arriving back from my morning swim, I got a call from the family who were fostering C'mell. Sadly the steroid injection had worn off and she was back to going in circles crying in a distressed and distressing manner. I rang Roker Park Vets and got an appointment for half an hour later.

As I'd warned them and I'd expected, the vet recommended that she be put to sleep. She had some neurological condition, probably a brain tumour and steroids only acted as a temporary palliative. She was an old and very ill cat. I held her while she was injected, stroking and talking to her as she quickly faded away.

I always hate having to authorise a cat to be put to sleep and always, no matter how convinced I am that I'm relieving the animal's suffering, feel guilty about it just as I know it is the kindest thing to do.

And that is three cats I've lost in the last few weeks. I'm not a very happy animal rescuer right now.

Post Script.

It's now a couple of hours later and in that time we received a request to take in a 4-month old male which was not being well-handled by a two year old girl. Carol couldn't take it but Lynn agreed, despite being upset over C'Mell (or Tabitha as she'd named it) whom she wanted to keep.

Anne and Joe of Star Rescue picked the kitten up from Hebburn and brought it here. It's a lovely tabby and white, lean, clean and healthy, deflea-ed and vaccinated. I took it round to Lynn's where it cautiously and gradually came out of the cat carrier, sniffed her fingers, sniffed the  couch, slid onto the floor and sniffed that and the fingers of Lynn's 9-year old son. Curious and alert and used to being stroked. I think it will do well there, though Susan has her eye on it for June who took the cat with the broken leg (see earlier posts).

A nice end to a rough day.

Monday, 16 November 2009


So, Friday teatime, Susan tells me she's going to do a home check for two kittens with Andrea and wants me to come along. They've been on a proper RSPCA training course in home checks and are experts and I should go with them to observe their skills (she didn't actually use those words but I know when I'm being patronised). In the event it didn't take a genius to realise that this was a suitable home. Experienced cat owners in a  cul de sac in a quietish respectable area who had seen the kittens already and really wanted them.

Andrea contacted Lynn (whom I'd hadn't met) who had been fostering the kittens -these were the 7 or 8 month old ones I'd picked up from Ryhope a few weeks ago. Yes, they could pick them up tonight and she was also willing to foster Cat C'Mell (see previous post). So good.

Apart from a fraught drive back where Susan drove without lights until I pointed this out then me telling her to turn right at a junction I knew very well but not well enough to realise that the council in their wisdom had changed things so that you weren't allowed to turn right there. We got back to the shop and Susan left to go see her mother in the home where she resides. After talking it over with Andrea, we decided to take the cat round to Lynn's which was only a 5-minute walk away.

A railway line splits the top half of Grangetown and Hendon into two and round the corner and down a bank then up and down a bit and a left turn down some steep steps to the houses which border the eastern side of the railway tracks and another couple of hundred yards along and there we were.

Plus Sally aka Scruffy the psycho dog with evil eyes and straggly teeth whom I've written about before. Andrea had promised Sally's owner to take it for a walk. So there we were, me with C'Mell the old sick cat in a carrier and Andrea with the dog that looks like it's a pet of the demons in The Evil Dead.

Lynn was a nice lady in (I'm terrible at ages but she has a 14 year old daughter so let's say) her thirties. She also has two cats of her own (one of which was hiding), the other was a friendly long haired calico cat. Also around was one of the kittens which let me stroke her until she got so sick of Sally barking (which she does when no-one is paying attention to her) that she scuttled upstairs. I gently pulled C'Mell out of her cage and let Lynn get to know her while I explained what the cat might do (i.e.crap on the carpet) and the rest of her situation.

Lynn mentioned that they were looking after her mother's python for a while and that they also had one. I find snakes, particularly constrictors, interesting and was keen to see them so she called up for her daughter to bring them down one a time. So there was this fourteen year old girl (who wants to be a veterinary nurse) with a python draped round her. I'd never been this close to a python before, and it is a lovely animal, so I reached out and touched it finding it cool and dry, the skin a little loose around its body. Its head was surprisingly small and I nervously let it glide over my outstretched hand.

So, my first close encounter with a python. Nice.

I'm now waiting to hear how Lynn is finding C'Mell after having her for two days. She has my number and hasn't called so I'm assuming that everything is okay.

By the way, Sally went nuts when she saw the snake. Cats she doesn't mind, but not apparently snakes. Tough luck psycho-dog.

Friday, 13 November 2009


This poor old girl isn't a happy bunny; hardly surprising as she's a cat but never mind. She didn't seem to be eating so I arranged for a visit to have her teeth done at Roker Park Vets as that's what the vet had suggested. On Wednesday evening she did, though, eat half a dish of Sheba chicken in jelly which was promising.

So, Thursday morning and I had the van and took little C'Mell to the vets. We had a guy in to do the garden and, as we had several sacks of garden waste piled up, I took the opportunity to drop them off at the Council Tip on the way to Carol's to pick up the Hetton cat (unnamed but that was where I got her from) to take her to Vets4Pets for a follow-up visit with regards to her thyroid with Sarah the vet. While has been improving, she's still a skinny little thing and her heart was racing about two thirds faster than it should. Sarah gave me some more tablets and took a blood sample to see if further or different treatment might be neccessary. Still waiting on that one.

Back at the shop, I filled the van with dog food and bedding and took it to the charity StrayAid at Coxhoe in County Durham. Despite it being about a 25 mile round trip, I managed it in about 75 minutes including dropping all the stuff off.

Teatime and I arrived to pick up C'Mell (this is my own private name for her as every time I formally name a sick cat it ends up dying). Fortunately she'd been seen by a more experienced vet this time. She didn't need dental treatment at all. The reality of her problems was much worse than that. She is deaf and her eyesight doesn't seem that good. She also has an undiagnosed problem which may be brain damage or something else. She turns in circles and scratches deeply at her left ear though there's no major infection or infestation in it. The vet had given her a steroid injection which should help her pick up and last for a couple of weeks. He also advised us to monitor her closely in case she deteriorated.

I took her back to the shop where she seemed okay. Later on though I got a call from Susan who was upset by the cat's behaviour. It was going in circles and was clearly distressed. I went round and had a look and it was still acting like that. As I've said many times in these postings, my prime concern is not to let an animal suffer and so, if it was still like that in the morning it would be put to sleep. Andrea and Susan were in complete agreement.

With a heavy heart, I turned up at the shop this morning, half-expecting the cat to be dead. Happily she had improved, even to the extent of eating the food I'd left down for her the previous evening. I could still see the tendency to go in circles but she wasn't distressed and purred loudly when made a fuss of

I don't think she has a lot of time left but for the moment we're leaving her as she is. As long as she can keep going, we'll keep her going.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009


Dogs: Millie (left, Andrea's), Wendy the whippet. (Photo by Andrea.)

Cat: C'Mell. (Photo by me.)

So we had two calls to make in the car, the van being elsewhere, and I had Andrea with me as she'd been in contact with the people involved, and Millie her dog who goes everywhere with her and is good with other dogs and cats.

First to South Hylton down a bank and just above the Wear. New cottages fitted out for the disabled and it had been an elderly disabled lady who'd called us. Apparently she'd phoned all over the place for help, finally getting in touch with Roker Park Vets who gave them our number and she was delighted to see us. I checked out the cat and, following a quick look at her front teeth, wrongly guessed that she was young when she was actually at the opposite end of the spectrum. So: bagged and tagged -that means put in the cat carrier and placed on the back seat for those of you who don't watch cop shows or speak gibberish.

From the banks of the Wear to Chapelgarth at one of the most southern points of sunny Sunderland, more modern housing. This time a young whippet which had just wandered into the area and been taken in by a nice family who got in touch with us. The whippet was a lovely little thing, friendly to Millie and delightful with people. Into the car where it settled down on the back seat and paid no attention to the cat in the carrier.

We took them back to the shop while we decided what to do with them. The whippet was quickly fostered out and I took the cat to Roker Park Vets. The vet, after a quick check, was ready to put the old girl to sleep straight away being obviously old, apathetic, dehydrated and underweight, plus fleas. I wanted to give her a chance so, after putting Frontline on her to kill the fleas, left her there for blood tests. The results were in by teatime and she was clear of anything majorly obvious. We decided to keep her in a cage in the shop's upstairs office. This time the van was available so Ian F the driver went to pick up the cat after first getting the carrier and cage from me and I met him with the cat and Andrea at the shop where we settled the cat in for the night.

I was round there just after 9.30am to see how she was. It looked like she'd had a mouthful of food and maybe a drink of water. I got her out of the cage, popped her on my knee and stroked her. She stayed there and purred faintly. I put her on the couch and she didn't move and was still in the same position when I came back from washing her dishes and bringing fresh food and water so I picked her up and carried her downstairs to show her to the staff who were around. She didn't stir in my arms.

I came back again later in the afternoon to brush her rather unkempt coat and make a fuss of her. Again, she purred faintly and made a hlaf-hearted attempt to rub her head against my finger. Back for the finall time at teatime when the shop had shut to try her with fresh fish. I brushed some against her mouth but she didn't react. I gave her some more cuddles and left her on the couch for the night with the fish next her.

It's basically one of two things. She's either got a tooth problem which is stopping her from eating and grooming or she's an old girl on her last legs and waiting to die. We should find out which in the next couple of days.

Thursday, 5 November 2009


I haven't been directly involved in any of this so what follows are my recollections of hearsay. Take that any way you want.

Paul and Joanne our new cat fosterers are having to give it up because Joanne's cat allergy has come back fiercely. However, we have someone who wants to adopt the two they're looking after. Paul is to take them to their new home but phones us first to confirm details. He casually mentions about not letting them out for at least two weeks and at this point the erstwhile adopter says words to the effect that she has no intention of cleaning out cat litter. Paul sensibly replies that she clearly isn't a suitable person and he won't take the two seven month olds to her.

Apparently she comes into the shop and wanted a dog from us to use as a guard dog as well as a cat and was turned down. Needless to say, she isn't well thought of.

Next thing, Carol our cat rescuer phones us and speaks to Susan. She has a nice lady wanting a ginger cat (this particular detail may be wrong but it's something like that) but she doesn't have one. However, a rescuer at Wallsend (we'll call her 'Sue' as that may be her name, I'm slightly unsure) has a suitable cat and can we go through in the van to pick it up. Well, Wallsend is way outside our catchment area and we don't know the place at all. Susan checks and it would onluycost £25 to get a taxi to pick the cat up.

Now at this point it's nearly 7.30pm and I've just finished cooking our evening meal but Susan has to go and take Andrea home from the shop. This should be a 15-minute round trip. She comes back just before 9.00 some 90 minutes later, having spent much of this on the phone.

The new titular owner of the cat is none other than our old friend who has no intention of cleaning cat litter so there is no way she's getting it. (She seemed nice on the phone, Carol said.) This upset 'Sue' who needed the space to take in a pregnant cat (again details may be wrong) who apparently started going on about the hundreds of thousands of pounds we have in the bank (we don't) being used to help other rescues (which we do anyway if and when we can) but where she got the idea that we had vast unlimited funds (which, I repeat, we don't) one can only speculate and while I have a good idea, I'm not going to name names. It is true that we are trying to build up funds for a permanent animal rescue which was part of our plan from the very beginning but we won't get very far if we keeping parting with the savings we do have.

Susan came back exhausted and irritated.

Like the title says, people are annoying.

While I'm on the subject, our cat Ted went to see Honour the vet and the fleas are back and our house is riddled with them, so Susan reported to me, and that the dead kitten Poppy also had them. This may well be true but I would like to know why in all the times I took her to the vets that none of them mentioned this fact to me and did something about it.

And how come I don't get bothered by fleas while Susan constantly scratches? And I'm still loaded with cold and pissed off.


Tuesday, 3 November 2009


Which is why there haven't been any entries since Friday. I'm loaded with cold and just can't be bothered with anything and have been palming stuff I normally do without a thought onto other people.

Susan has just got back from the vet's with Ted and his flea problem, which I thought we'd sorted, is back and Honour the vet, without seeing the house, thinks we're riddled with fleas, or so Susan says. I think Susan is using it as an excuse to get  me to empty the room where I work on the computer and store my Amazon Marketplace stock. This, despite the fact that the cats come in here less than any other room in the house and fleas live in carpets and bedding and not on books, DVDs' or CDs.