For a couple of years after realising that I couldn’t cut it with any of the sciences except perhaps biology to be a vet, I fancied being a veterinary nurse.
It was the next best thing and the books and article that I had read seemed to indicate it would involve a lot of cat and dog cuddling without the necessity to ever have put my forearm up a cow’s vagina and pull out a calf.
What they didn’t mention of course was that veterinary nursing involves looking after animals who are very sick and don’t actually want much cuddling – they just need their wounds tended and their vomit and excrement removed.
So it was just as well that my career took a different course entirely, because I discovered recently that I wouldn’t have been cut out for veterinary nursing.
Big Ginge has for several years now, terrorised my cats Leo and Fat Lily. He bit Fat Lily’s tail so badly that she lost the use of most of it for several weeks. He has roughed up Leo too, but never so badly as a couple of weeks ago.
I got home from work at about 7.15pm one evening, walked into the kitchen and he was curled up on one of the kitchen chairs. He didn’t move or respond when he heard my voice and the tail was still.
“Is Leo ok?” I asked Capt Sensible.
“Yes. He’s been sleeping there all day as far as I know.”
Yikes. So he wasn’t ok. I inspected him. He didn’t want to be bothered. His face looked as though he’d gone ten rounds with Mike Tyson. His nose looked twice as wide and his eyes were half closed. The left pupil was squinting into the centre of his face. His tail remained limp as I picked him up. He smelt really bad – as though Big Ginge had wiped his bottom on Leo’s face.
I thought it might be a head injury actually. Leo took to being on the garage roof during the summer – even though it was quite hot with no shade – and I’m sure it was to get away from Big Ginge. Perhaps he’d fallen from the roof.
So I cleaned up his face with warm saline solution and he seemed a bit better but by the morning, the face was still swollen and the squint still there. I put him in the cat basket and took him to the vet.
“Cat fight injuries,” said Derry Rhys-Jones, who especially likes cats and knows *everything.* “They happen at this time of year when they get territorial.”
He put his thumb on Leo’s nose and – stop now if you’re eating and reading at the same time….
….a stream of horrible green gunge poured down Leo’s face.
“It’s just pus,” continued Derry matter-of-factly “white blood cells and bacteria. Cat injuries tend to close over quickly and he’s got an abcess where that’s happened, so it needs to be drained.
“You just do what I just did twice a day, keep it clean and keep the wound open until it heals. It’ll heal from the inside.”
Oh God. He handed me ten days worth of antibiotic pills and gave Leo a shot to get him going.
So actually the first thing I had to do when I got home from work that day was to drain Leo’s wound. He’s such a good boy that he sat on my lap as I selected the necessary equipment from the clinical tray I’d assembled including cotton wool, a dish of saline solution, kitchen towel, tissues. I steeled myself and pressed on his poor enlarged nose and, oh flipping heck, loads of gunk came out. It was totally gross. It stunk too. He didn’t flinch until I’d finished and let me mope his face and eyes with saline.
We had our little accidents – white gunge shot all over my nightie one morning, Leo backed off my lap another morning, making me think that I’d probably drained everything there was to drain.
This continued for more than a week, twice a day. I followed up the draining and cleaning with his antibiotic pill buried in a nugget of very nice roast chicken. I may be imagining things here, but I think it helps if they have a routine and something nice to anticipate.
The dog training came in handy too. The fact that Leo will sit on command and then beg for a treat (he does cheat and use his paws to make damn sure that treat is heading straight for his mouth with no teasing or deviation) meant he accepted his chicken-hidden pills very readily.
About four days ago, the wound became a hole – with a corresponding smaller one on the other side of his nose, indicating that big Ginge had bitten his entire nose. Since then, it has become smaller and less noticeable and soon will be healed, I hope. It was horrible, horrible but could have been much worse. He was very close to losing an eye.
In the meantime, Big Ginge is still out there, terrorising my cats and other people’s cats too, causing pain, anguish and veterinary bills.
I suppose the lesson here is, if you get a cute little tom cat kitty, in everybody’s interest, get him neutered!
Oh and don’t look if you’re squeamish – picture of nearly-healed Leo…