My dumb cat is costing me a fortune | Steve Canavan

As regular readers of this column will know – so that’s my mother, Aunty Lynda, and the bloke from two streets down who wears a military-style camouflage jacket and always stops to ask how I am in a way that, for reasons I can’t quite put my finger on, slightly unnerves me – last week I wrote a column about cats.

Steve's cat has been in the wars.
Steve's cat has been in the wars.

It really was a thriller and if you missed it, I suggest you urgently contact your local newsagent and ask if they can locate a back-copy asap. I mean I’m not one to blow my own trumpet – I don’t own one for starters – but I have been compared in the past to Shakespeare, Dickens and Steinbeck, though only in so much that we’re all men and nothing at all to do with writing.

Anyway, last week I stated that despite owning several cats in my lifetime, and treating them fairly well (I’ve even stroked a couple on the odd occasion), not one of them has made it past the age of eight.

Well, blow me, on the very day that piece was published, there was an unfortunate incident involving my current cat – Bobbie, nine-months-old, black and white, inside leg 6’, hobbies sleeping and defecating.

I was driving to work (well, that’s what I tell Mrs Canavan; in reality I was on my way to a very nice café to meet an attractive blond called Geraldine from the badminton club with a smashing backhand dropshot) when I received a call from a tearful Mrs C telling me Bobbie was about to die.

“That’s terrible,” I said, “he seemed like such a nice guy – and he’s only just recovered from that bladder problem.”

‘No, not the bloke at number seven, our cat you idiot,’ she replied, romantically.

What had happened was this.

In the preceding week Bobbie – our cat, not the neighbour who’s overcome bladder issues - had spent a lengthy amount of time sitting on the window sill looking forlorn, then had begun hanging round the back door meowing in increasingly loud tones. She was clearly saying, ‘look, I know you give me nice food, a comfy settee to lie on, and loads of behind the ear rubbing, but I’ll be honest – I’m bored stiff and I want to have bash at trying this outside malarkey’.

So we started letting her out and this time last week, for the very first time, she wouldn’t come in when we did that stupid chushing noise at the back door late in the evening.

Staying out all night did not go well, for when Mrs Canavan opened the door the next morning, Bobbie staggered through the door like she’d returned from a night out with George Best and Oliver Reed, before collapsing in dramatic fashion on the floor.

On closer inspection, Mrs Canavan informed me, there was a hissing noise coming from her stomach, not unlike air escaping from a balloon or from an elderly aunt after consuming a Sunday roast containing cauliflower cheese.

It was at this point Mrs C rang me and – clearly mistaking me for a qualified vet - asked what we should do.

“Well, I’m no expert,” I said, with some understatement, “but if she’s collapsed and has air coming from her chest I’d suggest she needs fairly urgent medical assistance.”

Mrs Canavan got our stricken pet to the vets – not an easy task because despite Bobbie being in a near-death state, the sight of a cat-carrier coming prompted her to rise and dart beneath the nearest settee … the equivalent of a fouled footballer rolling over 20 times, waiting till the ref books the opponent, then getting to his feet as if nothing has happened.

The vet was astonished to find Bobbie had a large hole in her side, right through to the chest cavity, and rushed her into surgery, telling Mrs C to ’expect the worst’.

Mrs Canavan, now even more upset, immediately called to tell me the news.

It’s terrible to confess but my first thought wasn’t really for Bobbie’s health but ‘oh mother of god, how much is it going to cost?’

This was a difficult thing to voice, as if I said it too soon into the conversation it would appear heartless and callous – which clearly I am but I don’t want my wife to know this – but it needed addressing.

So I waited about seven minutes into the conversation and when Mrs C finally stopped for breath, I remarked – trying hard to sound as if I didn’t really care – “erm, how much, erm, do you think this operation will cost?”

‘Well,’ replied Mrs Canavan, matter-of-factly, ‘one of my friends is a vet and she thinks it will be about £2,000.’

It was at this point I let out a shriek, the type of which I’ve not omitted since I was being bullied by a boy at high school whose favourite trick was to sneak up undetected and grab your testicles in a vice-like grip.

But how can one really protest? I mean it was our decision to get a cat in the first place, though I must admit I wish, three months ago, I hadn’t come to the conclusion that £9 a month for pet insurance was overpriced and not worth getting.

The vet told us the hole was almost certainly caused by a dog, who had caught Bobbie and had her in its mouth.

My first thought was how on earth has our cat been caught by a dog? I mean, in my 45 years on the planet I’ve seen thousands of cats being chased by dogs and what happens is the cats legs it up a tree and then sits on a branch in triumphant fashion, while the enraged dog stands at the bottom going berserk for about 15 minutes before it belatedly realises it has no way whatsoever of getting to the cat and slouches off.

However, I have noticed our cat is a woeful jumper.

If she attempts to leap from a wall to the top of a fence for example - a feat most cats would do without thinking - she’ll nearly always misjudge the distance, land with only one foot on the fence, overbalance and fall in a heap on the ground. It’s like we have managed to get the only cat ever with special needs in jumping. So I’ve no doubt she was chased by a dog, attempted to vault to safety but, on account of being rubbish, fell backwards off whatever she was attempting to jump on and into the slobbering jaws of a grateful dog, who probably couldn’t believe his luck. I actually feel quite happy for the dog. I mean it’s probably been chasing cats for the last 15 years and has never ever before caught one. All it’s Christmases came at once.

Anyway long story short, and much to the vet’s astonishment, happily Bobbie pulled through – which at least makes spending two grand more palatable (If I’d had to pay £2,000 for a dead cat it would have been a bitter pill to swallow).

She’s got stitches galore in her side but is already wandering round the house like nothing happened and – remarkably – is standing at the back door howling to go out.

The vet says we need to give it a fortnight before that happens, in which time I intend to teach her to properly jump on to things. I’ll let you know how it goes.