Posts Tagged ‘Cats’

Feline Fluctuations

Ziggy went to The Cat Vet for his regular vaccination and check-up. At this clinic they have signs on tables to indicate where you can put your cat carrier. Apparently cats prefer to be raised up off the floor.

Cat parking spot

We met a new vet, Delwyn, and were impressed that she was wearing a top with cats printed on it. After a thorough check Delwyn told us she had found that Ziggy had heart arrhythmia and a heart murmur. She advised that if we wanted to understand the cause of these heart abnormalities we should arrange for Ziggy to have an ultrasound of the heart. After careful consideration we decided to go ahead with this, because Ziggy is an important member of our family. We are aware that Stephen has had the necessary treatment for his heart problems, and thought Ziggy should too (at least up to a financial point).

There is only one place in Christchurch where cat ultrasounds are done, and that is at McMaster & Heap in Hoon Hay, where the specialist is Dr Richard Lucy. We dropped Ziggy there in the morning, and signed a consent form for the procedure.

In the afternoon Richard phoned and said that Ziggy was a star! There had been no need for sedation (which saved us $150) and his cardiac parameters were within normal limits. Richard had observed a period of bigeminy/arrhythmia, but this was not associated with cardiac disease, and could be due to thyroid or high blood pressure. Concerning the heart murmur he had observed a small leak, but this was not something to worry about in a cat of Ziggy’s age (ten years).

Once Delwyn got Richard’s report she phoned us, and we’ve arranged to take Ziggy in next month to get his blood pressure checked. If this is not the cause of the problem he will need to have a blood test to check his thyroid. We’re just pleased to have him home and know his heart is in good shape. He was beautifully brushed by the vet nurses, who obviously have more grooming skills than I do.

We’re glad to know his heart’s okay
although the rhythm’s gone astray

Ziggy – the star!

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Feline Footwear

Socks with cats were a delightful gift from a distant daughter.

I have four pairs, two brown and two grey, all made ethically from bamboo. Sadly you can’t see the cats when I’m wearing shoes, but I know they’re there, and I can see them when I’m doing my exercises before I put shoes on.

By coincidence I sent this daughter NZ made merino socks with a dolphin pattern. Perhaps great minds think alike, or perhaps we were both seeking something light to post.

Socks that I wear tend to eventually develop holes because I have what a podiatrist calls ski jump toes. Many of my current socks are well-darned and I shall now be pleased to discard some of those when holes re-appear.

Cat faces hidden in my shoes
may be displayed when I so choose

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Birthday Boy

Today is Ziggy’s 10th birthday. We know this because we have his original pedigree papers. His father was Copycat Puck, and his mother Murasaki Pearl. The papers also list his grandparents, great-grandparents, and great-great-grandparents, which is pleasing to a genealogist. Officially his name is Avon Ziggie Stardust.

It’s because he wasn’t suitable for breeding that we were able to adopt him when he was two years old. We’d never intended to have a “designer” cat, and probably wouldn’t again, but our previous earthquake refugee cat had been a Tiffany (Burmilla) and had been such a sweetie that we sought a similar breed to replace him. Cats’ Protection League and SPCA didn’t have any such special cats, and my investigations eventually led me to Ziggy’s breeder.

Ziggy resting

Ziggy quickly became a (the?) most important member of our household and we love him dearly despite his tendency to leave fine long white fur on every chair. He expects, and gets, his breakfast early each morning, and his dinner at the appointed time, as well as regular treats. There’s no point giving him anything extra for his birthday as he already has all the treats he wants.

Ziggy on windowsill

He loves to sit on a windowsill and watch what’s going on outside, and spends hours snoozing in the sun, moving only when the sun has moved. Luckily he’s not a hunter and never chases birds or mice (although we wouldn’t mind if he caught the latter). Now he’s reached the end of his first decade he’s equivalent to a 70-year-old in human terms and sees no need to be unnecessarily active, although he occasionally bounds across the garden just to prove he still can.

He is a charming handsome boy
who gives companionship and joy

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I wrote a Fibonacci for poor Ziggy. He’s finding life in a collar hard.




we cannot

go and sit outside

because the cat’s in M.I.Q.

a wound means he must wear an Elizabethan ruff

and stay in the house for ten days

we cannot go out

because he

will see



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Puss Pretty in Pink

Ziggy and I have both had hospital visits this week. On Monday we noticed Ziggy had a scratch on his ear and wondered if he had been fighting. As far as we know he’s never done this before, but a small new ginger cat has moved into the neighbourhood and been seen in our backyard a couple of times.

On Thursday the scratch had swollen into an abscess so we rang the vet. The earliest available appointment was 8am Friday morning, and during Thursday night either the abscess burst or Ziggy scratched it open, and it looked nasty.

When we arrived at the vet we were asked to show our vaccine passes for the first time since we moved to the orange traffic light as vet treatment is considered to be close contact. The vet kept Ziggy in for the morning, sedated him, cleaned up his ear, and gave him immediate and long-term antibiotics – the latter necessary because we are not skilled at administering cat pills. When we went to pick him up he was wearing a wide pink collar decorated with toucans. We were disappointed it didn’t have flamingoes, but impressed that it was handmade in Christchurch by Cool Collars Lyttelton. It’s flexible and much better than a Cone of Shame.

Ziggy in his pink collar

Ziggy needs to wear his collar and be kept inside for ten days, which is not easy. He keeps scratching at the collar, and licking it noisily. Since he came home he hasn’t spoken to us which seems strange because he’s usually a chatty cat. He did climb on my lap to watch the News yesterday evening and purred when I stroked him and gave him chin rubs.

We usually leave the back door open and go in and out a dozen times a day. Now we have to be very careful about opening a door, and, combined with the need to keep my finger dressing clean and dry for two weeks, life is somewhat constrained. Stephen is washing all dishes as well as cooking, and I am drying them with one and a half hands. (I ditched the sling at the end of the second day.) Ziggy sits in the sun on the kitchen windowsill looking mournfully at the outdoors.

The cat and I both have constraints
but we do not make loud complaints

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Christine and I decided this morning we would walk into town and try to find those of the murals from the Flare Festival which Stephen and I had missed last week. Down Manchester Street we found a display for Slap City, a recent Paste-up and Sticker Festival which I hadn’t known about.

Slap City display

Murals which had been only partly painted last week were now complete, and we were delighted to find this giant cat mural by Swiftmantis. It’s actually right outside the part of the Little High Eatery where Stephen and I had lunch last week, but we’d missed it. A passing woman kindly took our picture holding the cat’s paws.

Giant cat mural

Round the corner we found a 2019 mural by DCypher and OiYou showing local historical scenes including the McKenzie and Willis building, all painted as a negative film strip.

McKenzie & Willis building

By this time we needed refreshment and stopped at Lemon Tree for morning tea. This café is an old favourite and while the ambience inside is fascinating, I prefer to sit outside these days as a Covid precaution. (We got a passing dog walker to take our photo.)

Ruth & Christine at Lemon Tree

We found a further Flare mural at 87 Manchester Street but weren’t sure just what this one was supposed to be. I discovered later it is by Ikarus and shows an eclectic array of video games and cartoon characters.

Mural at 87 Manchester Street

Another Flare mural was at 198 St Asaph Street, painted by Meep, a local artist:

Mural @ 198 St Asaph Street

Heading down Colombo Street we had a chance to enjoy the bird mural on the South Frame which I’d often seen from the car, but not been close to before:

Bird mural

Near this was a portrait of Sir Ernest Rutherford by Jacob Yikes, DCypher, and Ikarus, which is part of the Flare Festival.

Sir Ernest Rutherford

So much to see on city walls
great street art work that just enthralls

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Concern for Cat

Ziggy always requests his breakfast at an early hour. If I get up at 5am to go to the loo, as I did this morning, he invariably hears and comes calling for his food. But not today.

When we finally got up just after 7am he was still nowhere to be seen. I went out to the shed where he often spends time these days, and sure enough there he was, curled up on a sack on an old office chair.

Ziggy in the shed

When I spoke to and stroked him he hardly moved, and this behaviour is most unusual. The previous evening he’d climbed on my lap to watch the news, just as he always does.

At midday when I returned from my beach walk he was still sleeping in the shed. Stephen had been out and offered him a drink of water, but he wasn’t interested. We were beginning to think a visit to the vet might be required.

Mid afternoon he finally strolled in, had some food, and a good wash, then settled on a dining chair.

Ziggy back inside

Maybe he just wanted a day in bed. We all need one of those occasionally.

Our cat was out of his routine
we wonder what this change could mean

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Monday Mysteries

This morning I woke at 7.30am. As Ziggy was fast asleep beside us I assumed Stephen must have quietly got up at 6am and fed him, but no! Ziggy’s breakfast bowl was sitting empty on the kitchen bench. The next sachet in line was Whiskas Tuna which he doesn’t particularly like. I can only assume he’d read the packet and thought it wasn’t worth getting up early for. Luckily I went to the supermarket yesterday and stocked up on Chef Beef and Kidney Casserole which is his preference. Also, it’s made in Aotearoa and of course our Green cat prefers local products.

When I looked out the kitchen window I saw someone had knocked over our two wheelie bins which were patiently awaiting collection, so I went out in my dressing gown and righted them. Others further down the street had not been touched. We had an intruder in the garden on Friday morning, who fled when I gestured at him, so I’m feeling a little wary. As Stephen was still asleep I re-locked the back door while I had my shower.

Later, after breakfast, I heard the lid of one of our bins close, looked out and saw someone walking away. Was this a person dropping rubbish in our bin, or checking to see if there was anything worth rescuing? Maybe even someone homeless and hungry hoping to find something edible in the green bin?

Thinking of mysteries, I’ve now finished the last of my library books – The Killer by Susan Wilkins. This had more violence than I like, but I enjoyed the London setting. Luckily I have a dozen more unread books from the Book Fridge waiting beside the bed. When those are finished I’ll be happy to re-read others on my shelves, but I hope we’ll be in Level Two with libraries open before I get to that stage.

He knows the one that he prefers
the one that can elicit purrs

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Impatient Puss

How do cats tell the time? Ziggy is so regular in his requests (demands) for food that I sometimes think he must have a pocket watch like Alice’s White Rabbit. Apparently cats watch for external cues such as daylight or human behaviour. However, this does not explain why Ziggy comes requesting food well before sunrise and before either Stephen or I have stirred. This morning it was 5am when he started his breakfast summons, but I said sternly: “No, it’s too early!”

He pummelled our pillows and purred loudly, but I refused to give in even though I was wide awake by this time. I put on my MP3 player and listened to Crowd Science from the BBC World Service, then RNZ 6am News before finally succumbing. On other days I might have gone back to bed for more slumber, but Saturday is our early rising day because it’s when we Zoom with the U.K. daughters.

Once Ziggy’s hunger was satisfied he moved into his usual spot by a sunny window where he can keep an eye on what’s going on outside. Not much action there on these locked down days, and sad that our Word Festival has had to be postponed.

Ziggy on lookout

He keeps us firmly ‘neath his paw
we are
his slaves for evermore

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Our home also accommodated pet mice.  The first came when Daughter Number One was given the privilege of bringing the class mouse home for the holidays.  On Thursday afternoon it arrived, complete with cage and treadmill.  Daughter Number Two, a pre-schooler, was fascinated and delighted to be allowed to hold and stroke it.  An hour later the mouse was lying on the cage floor, decidedly dead.  An inquisition elicited the fact that younger daughter, feeling the mouse was a little grubby, had carefully washed it with her facecloth and cold water.

What to do?  Unthinkable for elder daughter to have to face her classmates with the news the mouse had not survived even one night in our house.  It fell to me to drive across the city to a shopping centre open late on Thursday night, and carefully choose a look-alike replacement.  Classmates need never know our family secret.

We had goldfish too.  When one of them was swimming at an odd angle, and obviously not feeling the best a daughter insisted we phone the vet to ask what could be done.  The vet said he didn’t know but if we brought it in he would have a look at it.  I had no car that day, so took a taxi, with two daughters, and the fish in a container.  The vet took a look, said he couldn’t do anything and offered to dispose of the corpse.  He was kind enough not to charge us.  We walked home, about a mile and a half, with tears streaming from both daughters lamenting their lost loved one.

A budgie in a cage graced our kitchen for many years.  We named him Archimedes (Archie for short, pre-empting a later royal baby).  I hoped to teach him to say “Eureka, my bath is overflowing”, but he never quite got the hang of that.  When we prepared to move south we intended that Archie should come in the car with us, but he conveniently expired a few weeks before we left.  Having pets is a good way of coming to understand the cycles of life and death.

When Stephen and I were preparing to leave Auckland and move south, the daughters had left home, but we still had four cats.  (The last remaining hen had gone to a retirement farm in Thames.  We later received a postcard to say she was happy and enjoying the attentions of a rooster.)  A friend offered to give our four felines a temporary home until we were settled, and then freight them down to us.  We took them to her house where she shut them in a shed.  The next morning she phoned to say they’d managed to escape, and we wandered the streets for hours calling “puss, puss”.  A passer-by asked if I’d lost a cat and I confessed shamefacedly that I’d lost four!  They were never found although the friend kept checking our old house in case they’d managed to find their way home.

Once we’d settled in Christchurch we needed a cat and went to the SPCA to find one.  I couldn’t resist a handsome black cat whom we named Blott.

Ruth with Blott, 1988

When we found that a stray cat was sneaking through the cat door and stealing Blott’s biscuits we named him Monster, after the Cookie Monster.  Despite advertising no-one claimed him, so he joined the family.  Some years later another stray adopted us.  She was a good mouser, so became Miss Molly Mouse Muncher.  Again we had no success tracing her origins, but months later a card in the letterbox told us her name had been Mushroom, and her family had too many pets so were glad she’d moved in with us.

With only two humans in our household, we were not so tempted to add more animals, although we sadly missed our chooks.  In 2001 we bought tiger worms for our compost bin.  Individual names for these were not practical, so they were designated Wylie One, Wylie Two, etc.  In 2007 we bought them a Can’-o-Worms worm farm, where they happily live and breed, and supply garden fertilizer.

Molly died at the time of the earthquakes and we willingly adopted a refugee cat, a cuddlesome Burmilla called Bentley (his original owner was a car enthusiast).

Bentley in tree

When Bentley’s time was up we decided we wanted another Burmilla, although we’d never previously had designer cats.  This is how we came to acquire Ziggy, whose pedigree name is Avon Ziggy Stardust, the adorable feline who now rules our home.

With lots of worms and Ziggy too
our home’s complete, I think, don’t you?

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