Archive for June 2, 2009

Cat-and-Mouse

Posted in Columbo with tags on June 2, 2009 by telescoper

I haven’t really got time for a long post today, but a couple of people have independently asked me how Columbo is getting on so I think it’s probably a good time for an update.

Since his scary Easter seizure Columbo has recovered extremely well and is doing fine, in fact. I don’t know what caused his little episode, but judging by his recovery it seems unlikely that it could have been a stroke like the vet suggested. He’s enjoying the nice weather and spends most of his time in my little garden these days.  (Incidentally, I’ve got loads of beautiful pink roses at the moment which quite wonderful to look at although they don’t smell very much.)

I’ve had various rather tedious things to do (such as marking examinations and project reports) but the glorious sunshine has allowed me to do these al fresco. When I’m sitting at the garden table, Columbo almost always climbs up and sits next to whatever I’m doing. It can be a bit difficult to get on with him there, especially when I’ve got the computer. When my fingers move over the keys he thinks its a game and tries to catch them with his paw. He also goes walkabout on the keyboard from time leading to some strange passages in my usually flawless prose.

On Sunday I spent a bit of time marking examination scripts but, in the course of doing that I realised that Columbo had found something to attract his attention. My garden table is actually on a piece of decking at the far end of the garden. The cat was sniffing and scratching at the decking in a peculiar way. Eventually I realised that the reason was a scuttling sound coming from underneath: almost certainly a mouse.

Columbo has never been an accomplished predator. I’m sure the few things he has brought into the house died of natural causes, apart from the huge black toad he caught when I was living in Nottingham. The problem with toads is that they secrete poisonous mucus, so Columbo had only just got the thing through the cat flap when he realised it was nasty, dropped it and started to drool from his mouth and cry like a baby. Thinking he had been poisoned when I came to investigate, I immediately rinsed his mouth with salt water which did the trick. It was only then I saw the disgruntled reptile sitting by the kitchen door with hardly a mark on it. I returned it to the garden and Columbo stayed away from toads thereafter.

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Anyway, the invisible mouse could be heard quite clearly moving to and fro in the invisible space underneath while Columbo followed it about on the surface like a destroyer trying to track a submarine. Finally he located it at the edge of the decking near the fence, where he went berserk scrabbling for the little critter. He didn’t manage to catch it, but it was very funny to watch although he went into a bit of a huff after the disappointment of failing to score a kill.

He has caught mice before – or, more likely, found them – but never really ate them. He always just played with them until they felt to bits and left a pile of guts on the carpet. He’s always been absolutely hopeless with birds too, never getting anywhere near them before they fly away. Until a couple of weeks ago, that is, when I found a dead sparrow in my bed…

There’s plenty of shade in my garden so there are places for him to take shelter from the hot sun. I can’t believe it’s much fun wearing a fur coat in this weather and cats have virtually no way of losing heat: they don’t pant, and only sweat through their paws. Fortunately he’s happy to take it easy and, as long as he’s got plenty of water, there’s no real problem. Cats survive in much hotter environments than this.

Because Columbo is diabetic he’s a bit of a magnet for fleas. The reason is that diabetic animals  have more sugar in their blood, so once fleas get on they have a bonanza. The hot weather and the fact that he’s outside so much of the time means that he’s always likely to pick up fleas and ticks. Fortunately there is an easy treatment for fleas that you dab onto the cat’s neck and it stops them breeding. I gave him a good comb last night and there was no sign of any parasites.

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