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.

Zhenny – the crazy cat

ZnK_Sept1

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

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