My heart is broken

stripe rip

Mrs. Stripe playing with mum in the dappled autumn sunlight.

Life has been very challenging recently and I hoped that three bad things were enough but not so. Last week we had to have our beloved Mrs. Stripe put to sleep at the veterinarians. I had mentioned previously in a post Mrs.Stripe and the pharmacy that she had severe muscle deterioration in her hind quarters which along with arthritis was causing her pain. On the last visit we shot her up with everything available and it was lovely to see her vibrant spirit emerge when she was pain free. The medication stopped working despite doubling the dosage and she was struggling to breathe through snuffling from an unrelated allergy problem that we could also not treat. Teddy and I talked about what we best, especially given that she was at least 15 years old and a feral street cat. We both agreed that we couldn’t bear to see her in pain and she finally made the decision for us.

I was sitting on the sofa, the night before we took her to the vet, and for the first time in her life she sat on a human’s knee. I looked at her in astonishment but she just settled down like she had always done it. The heat emanating from my knee must have soothed her poor little joints but I had no doubt that she was saying, “Please make the pain stop”. It was a sad day at the vets and almost all staff was in tears both at our sorrow and losing such a special patient. Even in her last days she played with her knitted catnip Spiderman, mewed plaintively for treats and even seemed to smile. She often made us smile see the post Resolution No 1 – wash more.

The house is in mourning and her daughter, Toffee, who is 13 years old, is wandering around the house crying. Zhenny, our other cat, has retreated into closets; occasionally giving us the odd cuddle but mostly biting us. We have euthanized many older pets but Mrs. Stripe was possibly my favorite. I became very mentally unwell when we moved to Egypt and when I caught glimpses of her in the garden it lighten my burden. She is probably half Egyptian Mau but has a bit of European Ginger which gave her fur the most gorgeous Titian highlights. She was exquisite and I couldn’t keep my eyes off her. I had no intention of looking after her until she had an injury. See my original post about our first meeting – Mrs. Stripe. Right to the very end of our posting in Cairo I wasn’t sure if she wanted to come with us – she was essentially a wild animal. One day she just made up her mind to stay in the house and we had to rush to get her neutered and vaccinated for the trip to America.

The veterinarian placed her in a beautiful blue shroud and we have buried in her beloved garden. Like most immigrants from third world countries, she loved her adopted new land and the odd new creatures she observed such as skunks and raccoons. She loved us and we will always love her. RIP Mrs. Stripe.

Mrs. Stripe's shroud on her favorite ottoman

Mrs. Stripe’s shroud on her favorite ottoman

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Mrs. Stripe and the Pharmacy

stripe pharmacy

Mrs. Stripe, the oldest of our three Egyptian feral cats, has had a painful week. She is about 15 years old and has considerable muscle deterioration in her back legs from early acrobatics across the rooftops of Cairo. She is on Gabapentin but this week I noticed that she was struggling to sit down on her back legs. Given her age and feral nature, I was convinced that we were taking her to be euthanized but once again she was saved for a little while longer with an opiate injection, some NSAIDs and an increased dose of Gabapentin.

She was hilarious when she came home – feeling no pain, eyes completely black and looking for trouble! She also had the munchies and we had to keep feeding the beast. The other two cats, quite wisely, kept out of her way. At one point we found the rug my grandmother made at the other side of the living room. I guess she had used it in an Arabian Nights scenario?

I asked if we could take the prescription to our local pharmacy as they now do pet medications (the ones that are the same as human drugs). The cost dropped from about $50 to $8 a bottle, so it was a considerable saving. When I went to pick it up today, I wondered (again) why we decided to call her Mrs. Stripe instead of just Tiger or some such. “What is the patient’s name?” Giggles from me, followed by “Mrs. Stripe”, to which I got a raised eyebrow. Then I had to fill in a digital form which queried – SELF or AGENT. Now I was really laughing, “I guess I am Mrs. Stripe’s agent, then.” I have no idea why the pharmacy technician didn’t think it was funny too. I was going to say that Mrs. Stripe would have come herself but God had forgotten to give her opposable thumbs.

In a unusual moment of good sense I thought that my comment might offend someone from the evangelical south. Just as well God didn’t (give her thumbs) because she would be doing do-nuts in the Challenger, stealing credit cards from my purse and other dastardly deeds.

Resolution No. 1 – wash more…

kerrystripe163

I made my husband take this series of photos even though he was disgusted by me and Mrs. Stripe. Still taking it easy and after a fun social occasion last night I decided to stay in bed all day. Mrs. Stripe walked straight up the bed a couple of hours ago and started washing my hand. Then her nose wrinkled and she started washing my armpit. Clearly, Kerry needed a bath…

kerrystripe164

I really love my mom and am happy to do my duty.

kerrystripe165

Well, it was a dirty job but somebody had to do it.

You will be pleased to know (and my husband certainly is) that I have bathed, changed the bed, put on antiperspirant and a clean nightie. HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope your resolutions are slightly less basic than mine. 🙂

Mrs. Stripe

2002

2002

Mrs. Stripe was the first cat we truly noticed in Cairo. We had left Britain with absolute certainty that we would never have pets again…freedom at last. Sigh. She was an exquisite cat, brown tabby with gorgeous titian highlights. We admired her beauty but left her to her own devices. After I had started volunteering at the cat shelter, I noticed that she was limping. I asked the Sudanese manager of the cat shelter to help my husband and I trap her so that we could take her to Dr. Farouk, the local veterinarian.

That sounds so easy, doesn’t it? Well, we trapped her in our bedroom and all three of us tried to catch her. It was Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. She must have been walking on the ceiling because how else did she spray liquid poo all over it, the walls, the carpet, the bed and the furniture? Time stopped, a la Matrix, but still we couldn’t catch her. We were all so traumatized that I called time out, while sobbing, and we all left the bedroom, leaving the door open for her to escape.

I was beside myself with grief, worried about her injury and certain that she would never visit us again. Why should I care when we were never going to have pets again…? The next day I caught my breath when I saw her coming through the hedge followed by two 6 week old kittens. I started crying because it was obvious that she was telling me that she couldn’t allow us to trap her because she had kittens to feed. So then we had Mrs. Stripe, Toffee and Treacle. Miraculously, her chase around the bedroom had increased her adrenaline so much that the injury had healed overnight.

If you would like to read more about Mrs. Stripe and our other street animals in Cairo please check out my Kindle book about our 2 years in Cairo during the 2nd Gulf War.
http://www.amazon.com/Letters-Cairo-This-memoir-travelogue-ebook/dp/B015JFY1F0/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1448745950&sr=1-1&keywords=letters+from+cairo

We still have geriatric Mrs. Stripe who is almost 14 years old, her daughter Toffee and another weird one that we picked up along the way. This time we said absolutely no more pets until my husband just named the outside feral cat that has recently had kittens. I am trying to feed her up so I can neuter and release her. After some argument (he wanted to call her Tess – really?), she has been named Katniss which is much more appropriate to her feral and predatory nature. On a tangential note, Mrs. Stripe has bad muscle deterioration from her early gymnastic life and now has to take Gabapentin. We decided to use some of our stock – we have a small pharmacy at home – but that involved opening a 100 mg capsule and dividing into 10 for a cat dosage. I was flummoxed but looked in amazement as my husband started using a pen knife to divide it up like cocaine. Is he having a Breaking Bad experience or did we just watch too much of it?

2015

2015

Domestic Violence…

domestic violence

This is what happens when your utterly feral 14 year old Egyptian cat does not want to have her Fentanyl patch taken off. It had been a hard week for her – a very expensive operation ($1300), one tooth left, ingrown toenail, antibiotics for a sinus infection. She just went in to have her claws trimmed…

The patch had to stay on for 5 days and then be taken off a furry leg. The nurse wisely suggested I take her in but instead decided that she was so old now and had so few teeth it would be okay. We traumatized her but got the patch off and flushed away safely. She stayed under the bed for two days, backing away from evil mom, making mom cry and generally feeling miserable. She finally came out after endless organic chicken, tuna and treats.

She is really adorable but it’s still like living with three raccoons. Look at this precious wee face.

Mrs, Stripe

Mrs. Stripe