I feel a bit guilty because I talk about wee Piglet all the time but rarely mention The Cat.
I say ‘the’ cat rather than ‘my’ cat because really Puss-Puss is Daddy’s cat. Now that Daddy’s in a nursing home, though, Puss-Puss has come to live with me, and when I mention her to Daddy he gets confused and doesn’t always seem to remember her, even though when they shared his flat he loved her dearly. It could be his dementia, but I worry that he’s tried to blank her out because he misses her so much 😦
Anyway, Puss-Puss–or Piss-Piss as I rather unfairly like to think of her–is a real survivor. She moved to live with my father prolly getting on for 7 or 8 years ago. Prior to that I’m not sure what her history had been, but she was certainly in need of a home and an old pal asked Daddy whether he’d be willing to take her on. Daddy’s always loved our cats (unlike Ma, who was brought up on a farm and really only ever saw cats as vermin control), and so he was glad to take her in. They lived together chaotically but happily until Daddy left his flat at the beginning of the year, and when about two weeks after Daddy left (for hospital) it became clear that he wasn’t going to be able to return I drove over to Formby to collect her.
It was quite a stressful undertaking, because Piglet was only about 12 weeks old at the time. PP is about 10–I’m not quite sure exactly how old she is–and has only one tooth (a legacy of a crappy diet, I suppose–dried food is definitely best!). She’d never lived with a dog before, and Piglet had never seen a cat, and Border Terriers have a reputation for wanting to chase and kill small furry moving objects. I took advice from the vet and gathered as much information as I could from the internet, and in the end I kept PP more-or-less locked into one room of the house for a period of almost two months (with a litter tray–thank goodness she got the hang of that very fast!) so that she’d settle into her new surroundings. After a week or so I began to lock Piglet into her crate in the kitchen in the evening, and then carry PP to the kitchen and put her down, so that the two wee monsters could get used to each others’ appearance and smells.
Initially the cat was horrified about the dog–there was a lot of spitting, and arching of backs, and dashing out of the room–but about 6 weeks into PP’s incarceration my sister returned from Scotland and I was able to introduce the monsters properly. I put them down together in the same room, and Caroline hovered over Puss-Puss while I kept a close eye on Piglet. Fortunately, PP immediately established herself as the boss, and the puppy (as she then was) quickly learned not to get too close.
Piglet also had a couple of frightening encounters around that time with large cats outside the house–she’s only a small dog, and when she was a baby most cats were bigger than her–and I’m sure that helped to establish PP’s supremacy in Piglet’s mind. I always make a point of feeding PP first, because apparently dogs are very attuned to that sort of thing, and recognise those who eat first as having a higher position in the ‘pack’.
Anyway, things have finally worked out pretty well. Piglet loves the cat, and the cat tolerates Piglet. Piggly’s grown a little bolder now, and sometimes she pisses Puss-Puss off by trying to lick her face and make exhuberant, affectionate advances. The main thing is that PP isn’t scared of Piglet, though. She’s sometimes a little irritated, but she clearly sees that Piglet doesn’t mean her any harm. I’m not sure that they’ll ever cuddle up together–although I’m sure that Piglet would like to, and I do wake fairly often in the morning to find Puss-Puss on my pillow, with Piglet less than a foot away curled under my chin–but they both seem pretty happy to be sharing the same house.
The reason I mention PP this evening is that I don’t think she’s 100% at the moment. Eating is her main pleasure in life–I feed her 4 times a day: little and often, to keep her happy–but she’s been off her food a bit, and her coat has grown a little matted. One of her eyes has been a little watery, and this evening I noticed some small scabs around her neck when I was cuddling her. I’m planning to take her along to the vet on Monday. I took her along when she first moved in, and was told that she was fine, but she’s getting on a bit now. She finds her coat difficult to manage–it’s one of those long, very fine coats, and I think that without teeth she’s unable to keep on top of the knots. The main thing is that she should be happy, and most of the time I’m pretty sure that she is. Still, though: she doesn’t get as much attention as she had when she lived with Daddy, as she has to share my attention with Piglet. I hope she’s okay. I love her for herself, but it’s fair to say that in my mind she’s also very closely bound up with my feelings for my father.
So! Fingers crossed, please, that the vet will give Pussly a clean bill of health on Monday. Neither Piglet nor I could easily cope with the loss of her any time soon.