Zhenny – the crazy cat

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I had such a sad day yesterday. Our beautiful Zhenny’s heart stopped during a routine dental procedure and she is now buried in the garden with Mrs. Stripe who died earlier in the year. She was geriatric and had some cognitive difficulties but it was an unexpected death.  Teddy and I are distraught despite knowing that she didn’t have much longer. She was so funny, loving and crazy, RIP our special girl. This is my original post about her.

I know – she is utterly beautiful. Her eyes are exquisite and she looks like a cat on a pyramid. That’s the problem… I first encountered her at the cat shelter where my husband and I volunteered in Cairo, Egypt. Her owner was moving from an American military base in Cairo to another in Korea and couldn’t take her fur baby. I can only imagine how her owner felt but Zhenny was distraught. She wouldn’t eat anything, despite our endless treats and pleading. The veterinarian put an IV drip in but she thought she was being tortured. We already had Mrs. Stripe and her daughter, Toffee, our garden cats, so we certainly didn’t want another one. We thought that Stripe would attack her anyway as she is so territorial. Then one day it was obvious that Zhenny was dying and I just put her in a crate, took her home so that she could die somewhere nice.

She was so skinny that we bought her a little cat nest with a hood so that she could feel safe and comfortable in her final days. To my surprise, when I introduced Stripe and Toffee to her, I could see them saying, ‘Poor little soul’ and thus she was accepted. The fight for her life went on for about a week with me forcing baby food into her mouth. In desperation I bought some minced beef and cooked it for her. For the first time, she seemed to have an appetite and started eating properly. By that time we were all bonded or used to each other’s scents and it was too late… That was 12 years ago and she was 18 months old. She is still alive but I have saved her life on another occasion when the veterinarian hospital could not look after her. We believe she may have sent someone to ER…

Stripe and Toffee are likely half Mau but completely feral. Zhenny looks like a tabby oriental but may as well be from Planet Zed. Even the vet said that she is just loco. I have looked after many cats but this one is an enigma. Only I can lift her, and only in special circumstances. Her Dad may only kiss her but not stroke her. He is also the only one who is allowed to play with her in a precise OCD way. Mum is just for cuddles and care-giving. The other two cats were utterly silent for years, as feral cats can be, but Zhenny is astonishingly vocal. I will be on the phone with my aunt in Ireland, Zhenny will be three rooms away and she can hear her screaming. After all these years we can tell the difference between her distress and laughter. The vet suggested that we give her Xanax – I looked at him and said, “How precisely should I do that, with a blow-dart, perhaps?”

She can be hysterically funny or drive us to tears. If she is upset she creeps along the floor, sobbing. Have you ever heard a cat sob? All treats have to be thrown like live prey and yet she is not a hunter. We discovered much later that she had kittens before we took her in but still hadn’t been neutered. Shortly after I saved her life in Cairo, she went into heat. Our villa was three houses from the baker’s shop at the end of the street and I could hear her howling inside our house. No wonder our neighbors had some issues with us… One time she was halfway up the stairs, with her head peeping through the balustrade and started ‘in heat howling’. Even she looked astonished at the guttural sound that came out of her mouth and we burst out laughing.

She should not have lived this long but Mummy is just so good at saving her life. Sigh. Our vet looks at me in horror when I say very firmly DO NOT RESUSCITATE! She is so difficult to handle that we know that she would not be able to cope with a chronic illness or disability so it would be a kindness. She has the early stages of kidney dysfunction but I suspect she has at least another year in her. Oh we will miss these beautiful green blue eyes and her funny vocalizations.

Zhenny at 2 years old in Cairo

Zhenny at 2 years old in Cairo

Read more about her in Letters from Cairo by Kerry Duncan

Varys writes a letter…

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Today my Game of Thrones hero is Varys. The elusive eunuch is one of my favorite characters – is he good or bad or neither? He is wily but can be kind. Is he on anyone’s side except his own? If I was made a eunuch I might feel a little impotent – or is he??? Over the last few weeks I have been Varys-like – so many characters to chameleon in and so little time. I can’t be the only person that is driven CRAZY by the endless mail from charities at this time of year. My husband has a kinder heart than me (Jon Snow, perhaps) but I will keep address labels to use and shred everything. We already tithe a large proportion of our income to our favorite charities and sometimes they overdo it.

In the last couple of weeks we have packages from animal charities that I choose not to be involved with such as PETA and The Sierra Club (there is a website that tells you about good charities but I just use my instinct) – so they just go straight into the dungeon (shredding bag). Even the good ones sent too much stuff when you have already given them hundreds of dollars. So, with Varys in mind, I decided to manipulate the situation. You can’t send a check or put on an address label or they will hunt you down, like Arya.

If I like the charity and they have sent a few Christmas cards then I will put $5 in an envelope and wrap it in something weird like the instructions for my Xanax (to make them feel bad for taking money from a poor anxious woman). I wrapped the $5 for a Thanksgiving meal at a Jesus center in my estrogen cream directions. MD Anderson got their $5 (like they need it) in a Peta leaflet. Then on the address label I write something ridiculous like, ‘Have a Happy Halloween’ to religious groups or eet smakelijk which is Dutch for Bon Appetite.

A marketing organization has been subcontracted for this task and it’s a boring, soulless job so I might give them a little chuckle. It did occur to me that they might keep the $5 for themselves but I really don’t care – it’s just a token. THEY SHOULDN’T BE SENDING UNSOLICITED MAIL IN THE FIRST PLACE!!!!! It’s probably obvious by now but I am due to see my handsome psychiatrist this week. I used to fancy him much more but now I have known him for 10 years and we are appropriate ‘friends’. The appointment is a little overdue and it is the day before Halloween so I am going to dress completely in black with cobweb stockings. Maybe a bit too much black eyeliner and a dark lip and see how quickly he wants to up my anti-depressants. I am just messing with him a little…its psychiatric flirting, really.

On a final note, don’t assume that a charity is not working properly if a large proportion of their money goes on salaries. When I worked in mental health, the community project needed to employ appropriately qualified personnel to advocate; run courses; manage a day center or whatever else we did. Volunteers can’t do everything by themselves and it might be harmful to the clients if they did. So in that situation, all the money went on salaries and rent and 100% of the care went to our clients.

So that’s my Varys day – can eunuchs have sex? I had to research this, of course, for literary reasons… See this link – fascinating stuff! http://www.mtv.com/news/1836500/game-of-thrones-grey-worm-missandei-sex-eunuch/