My Family & Other Animals (Part 2)

March 20, 2007 at 5:33 pm 3 comments


Now my wife, “C”, and I have our own special addition to the family. We have three Godchildren – my two nephews and the daughter of one of my best mates from university. More importantly though (though I am sure that they would disagree), there is our own child substitute – the furball baby, Maslow our cat. I can remember the day he arrived almost as vividly as I expect any father does the birth of his child………….

The weekend of Maslow’s arrival was supposed to be an easy, hassle-free one – a quick dive into the Trafford Centre in Manchester to collect C’s new glasses (they are Gucci don’t you know, darling). While I don’t know how much they cost, I do know they are probably one of the first things I will save in the event of a house fire. And, you would have thought that something so expensive and made by Gucci deserved a better name than “glasses”. The shopping trip was to be followed by a Sunday of stripping yet more woodchip from our ancient walls at home in preparation for the visit from a plasterer on Wednesday (fingers crossed, and a fair wind that is – they are so bloody unreliable). I hate all forms of decorating and DIY.

Hassle-free? It didn’t quite work out that way. Why? Well the weekend began pretty much according to plan with a lie-in followed by the drive to the Trafford Centre, the recovery of the Guccis and a couple of hours following my beloved around very similar shops selling very similar things. C would circle around in some apparently random way before selecting armfuls of the said similar things and disappearing into the changing rooms for hours on end only to return empty-handed as nothing had taken her fancy. And then onto the next shop for more of the same……

After a while she noticed that I had taken to not accompanying her into the similar shops and had taken refuge outside with all of the other bored husbands. She found me there sobbing ever so slightly and chewing my arm. She took pity on me and we were allowed to return home with nothing more than her Guccis and the two CDs which I had managed to acquire in about 30 seconds while her back had been turned. Men are so much more efficient at shopping than women!

Once home I had to rush to the local iron mongers (yes, we still have iron mongers….this is Cheshire!) to purchase a wallpaper steamer for the following day’s task of woodchip removal and just had time enough to get showered and changed before going round for an evening of alcoholic jollity at one of the neighbours. Another of our neighbours, Mark, the 3 times, undisputed heavy-weight kick boxing champion of the world, (and, consequently, one of my very best buddies) was on the TV quiz show ‘Dog Eat Dog’ hosted by Ulrika Jonsson (the lucky bast*rd!). While he had been forced to go to his parents to watch it (much to the chagrin of his girlfriend, J), the rest of us neighbours gathered together to watch his five minutes of fame. And so, as Mark was being (unfairly) described as “all brawn and no brains” by his fellow contestants, being voted off second without the chance to take a “physical challenge”, and nailing his own coffin by getting his general knowledge question wrong and hence losing all the money, we were well into the first few of several bottles of wine. The girls were chattering on about how Ulrika’s neck and breasts were looking so much better these days. The blokes were wondering when they had ever been anything other than perfect. Shopping, and judging the quality of female TV presenters breasts are clearly two thing best left to the male of the species.

Following a ridiculously large amount of a Chinese take-away banquet and far too much wine we made our weary way next-door-but-one to home at around 1 am.

At 1.10 am there was a knock at the door. It was our neighbour, clutching a tiny, pitiful, whining ball of fluff. It was a little, tiny kitten, complete with cat flu. It must have been dumped by its owner (it happens quite a lot in the countryside). It was all skin and bones, with its eyes and nose all glued up as a result of the flu. We had been nominated as foster parents – our neighbour has a dog.

So, a cat bed was hastily constructed out of a PC Monitor box, torn up newspaper – the Guardian of course – and one of C’s old dressing gowns. The kitten wouldn’t take milk or water but liked being held – it could sit on the palm of my hand with room to spare – and soon began to relax. But, we were not too hopeful of it getting through the night. And so, with the prospect of wallpaper stripping just a few hours away I did the decent thing and went to bed, leaving C to stay downstairs to administer to our new guest.

And there she stayed all night, without sleep, tending to the poor little mite, bathing its nose and eyes, listening to its ragged breathing, and doing deals with God in the hope that the little furball would be still with us in the morning. At 7 am she began telephoning the emergency vets and at 9.15 she came and woke me…………………

The kitten had survived the night and the kitten had acquired a name – Maslow. This is what happens when you have a Counsellor and Psychotherapist in the house – your foster child gets named after a guy who came up with the “Hierarchy of Needs”. C thought it was appropriate as the little furball was clearly right at the bottom of that hierarchy, being totally dependent upon us……..well that is the plastic credit card side of “us” it would seem.

And so the day began with a trip to the vet. Maslow was declared a boy, about 5 weeks old, with cat flu. He was given a couple of jabs and we were given ointment for his eyes, anorexia cat food for his belly, a couple of syringes for administering food and water, antibiotics for the flu, and another appointment with the vet for Tuesday evening. In return for this, huge mounts of dosh were now owed. And so we were packed back off home with Maslow, medical supplies and our cardboard box.

And then the search for the essentials of life began – cat litter. None of the neighbours had any so I was dispatched to Crewe to the pet supply shop. I have never been in one before. How gullible are these pet owners that they get so easily ripped off in these huge pet superstores? And so a little while later, and financially lighter, I returned home with litter tray, 20 kilos of cat litter (urine absorbing stuff – the type that clumps), matching food and water bowls, a book about how to look after your kitten (which we should, perhaps, read sometime. Much to my wife’s annoyance I am not a huge fan of instruction manuals to say the least. I hold the same view as one of our friends who recently described such things as “the last refuge of the incompetent”), and two special mats for Maslow to snuggle up on………….

Mother and child were bonding when I got back. C was sticking to her task of cleaning and cuddling and administering said medicines. I made soup for us humans and rushed around in the afternoon stripping woodchip from the bedroom walls. At least I did get the job done.

Showered and refreshed I returned downstairs to discover that not only were we the proud owners of Maslow but also of a colony of fleas! You would have thought the bloody vet would have noticed! The little horrors were getting into Maslow’s icky eyes and were presumably the reason why he had worn the fur away on his front legs, trying to clean his eyes. Where on earth do you find flea stuff for kittens (it has to be less than napalm strength otherwise it can make them poorly) at 6pm on a Sunday evening in downtown Bradwall? Well the Late Shops let me down although they did furnish us with more cotton wool balls to replace our much-diminished stocks for cleaning Maslow’s eyes and nose. But, I did manage to get some anti-flea stuff that was not too harsh for such a young kitten from one of the neighbours.

Maslow perked up a lot in the evening. His cat bed had been furnished with a hot water bottle and one of C’s t-shirts. We had managed to syringe a whole can of anorexia cat food into his now swollen belly. His fur had been combed and the worst bits of hedge that were stuck in it had been cut out. His fleas had diminished. His breathing had improved a little as we had bathed eyes and nose and he was now accompanied by the scent of Karvol wherever he went. He had made himself at home. Home seemed to be on the settee – he would not stay on the floor – or, his favourite, he would sit on C ‘s or my shoulder, purring and rubbing his head against your cheek….presumably to get rid of some of the fleas.

It did and still does feel like being a parent. In those early days, the house was a mess as various kitten accoutrements filled the space (a myriad toy mice and “jingle balls” still pervade today). Someone had to be with the little thing all day long. And he ate better than we did – he would not leave us to eat our dinner in peace. But we were strong in the evening and locked him downstairs on his own with his hot water bottle and as yet untested litter tray as we went to bed. He cried a bit. I stood the other side of the door for a while until his cries gave way to a slight sob and I went to seek some sleep.

And so Maslow arrived. He is now a permanent fixture. A fully signed up member of the family. An amusing, furry, lovable, loving, entertaining and much-spoilt fixture at that.

Post script:

God Children now up to four and counting – read about it here.


Entry filed under: Celebrities, humour, neighbours, Pets. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

My Family & Other Animals (Part 1) My Family & Other Animals (Part 3)

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