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Old Boy Network

Posted in Columbo with tags , on May 17, 2011 by telescoper

It’s only after spending what seems like weeks catching up after my short holiday that I realise I’ve forgotten to post the update that probably most people care about, i.e. my old moggy Columbo.

Well, although he’s not getting any younger he’s still doing OK. I had to make use of the services of a petsitter while I was away (both at NAM and then on holidays). It turns out the lady who usually comes wasn’t available all the time so I had two different people coming to the house at various times. His support network is becoming extensive.

He is of course pretty old now – he was 17 in March – and he’s showing quite a few signs of age. He has been suffering from arthritis in his legs for a while, but the medication seems at least to have stopped it getting worse. He still has a bit of a struggle sometimes getting up and lying down but the discomfort obviously doesn’t last too long. If it gets to the point where he’s in pain all the time then I’ll have to think very hard about what to do.

Despite this ailment (and his continuing diabetes) he still seems happy enough to potter about in the garden in between lengthy snoozes, more often than not on my bed. He’s also still got a healthy appetite. The only times he’s ever been off his food have been when he was really ill, so as long as he’s eating I reckon he’s basically OK. That’s why I don’t mind him cadging for snacks, as is his wont..

Columbo’s basically a friendly old chap and there are occasions when he clearly enjoys having other people around. At other times, though, increasingly frequent now, he clearly prefers his own company and goes off on his own somewhere. I know him well enough not to bother him when he’s in that mood. Actually, Columbo and I are pretty similar in that craving for solitude. We old boys like to keep ourselves to ourselves.


Columbo’s Birthday

Posted in Columbo with tags , on March 31, 2011 by telescoper

It’s been a while since I last posted an update about my old moggy, Columbo. In truth I’ve been waiting until today to post about him, because today is his birthday. He’s 17, not bad for a diabetic tom cat. Yesterday I bought some fresh prawns and this morning gave them to him as a treat. He demolished them so quickly I doubt if they even touched the sides. Technically he’s supposed to be restricted to special diabetic food but it’s a one-off so I decided to splash out. Anyway, here’s a close up of him looking close up. This is his tactic when there’s cheese on my plate.


Baby Columbo

Posted in Columbo with tags , on January 24, 2011 by telescoper

No time for a proper post today, so I thought I’d put up a gratuitously cute picture of my old moggy Columbo, taken when he was a youngster – about 16¾ years ago. Feel free to say “awwww…”. Oh, and the beardy weirdy in the picture is me, also in a younger incarnation.




The Trouble with Columbo

Posted in Columbo with tags , , , on November 20, 2010 by telescoper

So far it’s been a busy and extremely frustrating Saturday all on account of my old moggy, Columbo…

Today I took him to the vets for his six-monthly check-up. All went well, even to the extent that he didn’t try to take the vets arm off when they took a blood sample for the fructosamine test that checks whether his diabetes has been under control since the last visit. He’s even lost a bit of weight, which won’t do him any harm, although at 6.8 kg he’s still not exactly slim. His only indiscretion was to have a wee in his carrying box on the way there, but that’s nothing particularly unusual and was easily dealt with.

However, when I went to pick up his supplies (food, medication, syringes, and insulin) the vet informed me that the manufacturer of the kind of insulin he normally gets is no longer supplying it. This particular type is of a flavour called “Protamine Zinc”, although I don’t know really know what’s so special about that. Anyway, given that I’m running low the vet wrote me out a private prescription for human insulin, which apparently they are allowed to do if the supply of veterinary products runs out.

So I took Columbo home with the other stuff, left him in the house and, prescription in hand, romped off to the nearest pharmacy, which turned out to be the first of many I visited this morning. The problem is that human persons who are diabetic generally don’t use the old-fashioned vial-and-syringes approach to administering insulin, but get their dose from preloaded gadgets that look a bit like pens. These won’t do for cats which have skin that’s too thick. So one after the other various pharmacists explained that they would have to order the stuff I needed, and that it might take a while to arrive since there’s not much demand for it these days. None of them had a supplier that was open on saturdays either..

Eventually I gave up trying to find the insulin today and left the chit with a pharmacist to order on monday when their supplier is open. That is, if they’re able to supply it at all.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do if I can’t get the supply Columbo needs. Probably we’ll have to switch to another type of insulin, but the problem with that is that we’ll have to establish the right dose. He’s been stable on his current dose of his normal insulin for a long time now, but it did take a long time to sort how much he needs. If I have to start again on a different type, it will probably require several tests to see how he responds.

Anyway, having hoped to get the business of his insulin supply sorted out today, I’m now forced to wait until monday to see if I can get the necessary from the pharmacist. If not, I’ll have to talk to the vet when the fructosamine results come back to see what to do about starting on a new type. It’s all a bit of a pain, and I’m knackered after traipsing around half the chemists in Cardiff on a wild goose chase.

Columbo, however, is oblivious to all this and is doing pretty well. While I’ve been running around on his behalf he has been sleeping as is his wont, this time in the bathroom. He’s a picture of him taken after he’d just woken up.

Now it’s time to do a bit of relaxation of my own, in the form of the Guardian Prize crossword.


Cats really are just like people..

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on October 24, 2010 by telescoper

Thanks to a miracle of technology, it is now possible to translate the thoughts of a cat into human speech. This demonstration shows that cats really do think and behave in exactly the same way as people. I had a similar conversation with a photocopier only a few days ago. Unfortunately, owing to design limitations, the software can only produce a rather unattractive cockney accent. Also I can assure you that Columbo does not use the sort of foul language deployed by this otherwise charming animal.

Thanks to Jennifer Ouellette for this one..


A Brush with Columbo

Posted in Columbo with tags , on October 10, 2010 by telescoper

I bumped into a few people I haven’t seen for a while at the rally yesterday, and quite a number of them told me off for not posting more updates about my old moggy, Columbo. Suitably chastened, I decided to put up a couple of snaps today. I was actually away Friday night and most of Saturday so had had to arrange for Columbo to be looked after by a professional catsitter so he could get his insulin jabs on Friday night and Saturday morning. Although the catsitter I use is very reliable, I always worry a little bit when I’m not there as I think he gets a little bit lonely.

As a treat for him, I stopped in a shop and bought him a bit of fish before I got on the train in Paddington. It was very cheap because they were about to close but I’m sure Columbo didn’t know that. Two and a half hours later when I got home it had certainly started to pong a bit, but that merely served to drive Columbo wild with anticipation.

I gave him his insulin as he scoffed the fish, sounding more like a pig than a cat – the combination of eating and purring noises is not all that pleasant. After he was done and had established that there really wasn’t any more, he joined me on the sofa for his favourite after-dinner pastime: getting brushed. He loves getting the metal brush over his head and face and often grabs the thing himself just to do it that little bit better.

After a good going over he looked quite a lot smarter and adjourned to the floor for a sleep. I think he’d forgiven me for leaving him alone for so long because, unusually, he didn’t try to eat the newspaper as I did the Guardian crossword.

Cat Nap

Posted in Columbo with tags , on August 15, 2010 by telescoper

It’s been a month since I last posted an update about Columbo so I thought I’d put up a quick item.There’s been no repeat of his recent nosebleed, and he’s showing no after-effects at all. As you all know, he’s not exactly in the first flush of youth – so there’s no more of the racing-around-like-a-mad-thing he did when he was kitten. He still likes to go for the odd wander about, but it’s strictly in his own time. In fact he’s still spending quite a lot of time out of doors, as the weather, though not as good as June and July because it has rained a bit, is at least reasonably warm.

However, he did recently discover a new comfy spot, in the cupboard under the stairs which he has now added to his collection of places to sleep. Other well-established locations are: under the coffee table in the sitting room, on the mat next to the bath, behind the trees at the end of the garden, and in the corner of the spare bedroom, as well as his basket of course. It must occupy his mind to a considerable degree deciding which of these spots to sleep in. Still, sleeping is mainly what he does so it’s obviously important to do it right. It’s a hard life, being a cat…

The other day I did a bit of work in the garden. When I’d finished I swept up various bits and pieces into a pile but realised I’d forgotten to bring a shovel. When I came back with said implement, Columbo had appeared from nowhere and was rolling around in the pile of muck. It seems far from unusual for cats to enjoy rolling around in leaves, twigs and general dirt. Probably it’s a good way for a moggy to scratch their back. Anyway, after a few minutes’ escstatic rolling around, Columbo nodded off on the path right next to the rubbish so I decided to take a picture.

The Curious Case of the Cat’s Nose

Posted in Columbo with tags , on July 17, 2010 by telescoper

Another day, another feline emergency.

This morning I got up to feed my old moggy Columbo. As usual, he was out and about first thing in the morning, but as soon as I got downstairs he was there waiting for his grub. I put it down for him, gave him a dish of fresh water, and did the usual insulin jab.  He started to scoff the food. As usual, the combination of eating and purring produced a sound like a pig at a trough so I left him to it and proceeded to make a cup of tea.

A few seconds later, Columbo sneezed. Nothing particularly unusual about that so I didn’t pay much attention. While I was waiting for the kettle to boil, however, I noticed something strange. There was blood on the food in the cat’s bowl, and a fine spray of blood on the wall behind it. Columbo had resumed eating, and seemed fine, but there was clearly something very wrong.

As it happens, a trip to the vet’s was on my agenda for today because I needed more of Columbo’s Feline MD, food which is specially designed (and specially priced too, apparently) for diabetic cats. I also needed some more insulin and some more of the tablets he has for his arthritis. Never cheap, these trips to the vet. Since I was going to go anyway, I thought I’d take him in for a check up, and phoned to see whether they could fit in an appointment this morning, which they did.

After completing the not too easy task of persuading Columbo into his travel box, off I went to do the honours. Soon he was sitting on the vet’s table, looking right as rain and showing no ill-effects at all. He was even purring; he seems to like this vet more than any other he’s ever been to. Anyway, I told the (sceptical-looking) vet what happened and she gave him the once over. She said the blood could be a sign of something quite serious, but it could have happened for any number of trivial reasons. Not finding anything wrong in his mouth or nose, she asked me whether I had found anything strange in his dish when he had sneezed. In fact there had been a small piece of a blade of grass, which I’d thought slightly odd but hadn’t mentioned because I didn’t think it was relevant.

The vet smiled and said she thought that was probably it. She went on to explain that cats often eat grass in the summer, sometimes to help digestion but also sometimes to help them produce furballs. It’s not all that unusual for a small piece of grass – which can be quite sharp – to find its way into the cat’s nasal passages from its mouth and when it gets there it can cause a nosebleed. Since the offending grass had found its way out, the problem was probably over. I sighed with relief. Panic over. It must have been unpleasant for the old chap, but better out than in.

The vet mentioned that Columbo has pretty good teeth for a 16-year old cat, although he is missing one long incisor at the front. The end snapped off this ages ago, probably during a fight. It didn’t seem to cause him any problems at the time so the vet said it was best just to leave it. A year or two later, however, he began to experience dfficulty eating and the vet suggested it was probably the tooth causing the bother. He spent a day at the cat hospital and had it removed under a general anaesthetic. Sorted. The rest of his gnashers are in good nick, as he is wont to demonstrate on unsuspecting visitors.

I was a bit worried that he might have developed another dodgy fang or some other mouth problem. I’d be a bit nervous about subjecting him to a general anaesthetic at his current age, as the risk increases markedly for the more senior citizens of the feline world. Thankfully, that’s not an issue. Not for the time being anyway.

After we got back he spent the rest of the day on a rigorous programme of sleeping, interrupted only by an attempt to eat the Travel Supplement of my newspaper.

Nearly time for his supper. I hope this time it’s not to be sneezed at.


Posted in Columbo with tags , on July 3, 2010 by telescoper

It’s been a while since I posted anything about Columbo, so I decided to take a quick picture of him in the garden. Now the roses have gone, but the lilies are out and I thought it would look nice to get a snap of him with them in the background. He didn’t seem to keen to pose, however, and I had to settle for this one in which he looks more than a little grumpy…

The hot humid weather we’ve been having recently broke on Thursday with a considerable downpour of rain. Columbo was delighted. With him being diabetic I have to make sure he gets plenty of water so I give him a fresh bowlful every morning. Usually, however, he prefers to go outside and drink rainwater from varies containers around the garden. During the hot spell these have gradually dried up and he’s been forced to drink the water I provide, which he clearly doesn’t like as much. I asked the vet about this and he said it’s because tap water smells funny to cats. Dirty water in a manhole cover doesn’t, apparently.

Anyway, when it rained Columbo went out and started lapping water up from puddles and off the leaves of the shrubs in the garden. He obviously loved it, although he was a very soggy moggy when he finally decided he’d had enough.

One of the drawbacks of Cardiff is that it’s a pretty damp place generally, partly because it rains quite often and partly because it’s very low-lying. My own house is near the River Taff – on its flood plain, in fact – so the water table isn’t far down. The result of this is that the garden can become a profusion of slugs and snails. Fortunately, I’ve never had the problem that some neighbours have had with slugs getting into the house. The hot weather has kept them away this year, but when I went out yesterday morning they were all over the lawn and even climbing up the walls. Obviously they prefer damp conditions, but it doesn’t take much to make them spring into life. Today’s warm again and I didn’t see any this morning. I wonder where they go when it’s too dry?

It’s sunny again today and Columbo’s reverted to his usual place in the shade at the end of the garden, emerging occasionally to make a half-hearted attempt to catch butterflies. The slightly odd weather seems to have done wonders for flowering plants – the roses were lovely this year, and the honeysuckle is still going which probably explains the large number of butterflies.

I wish I could persuade some songthrushes to visit and feast upon my latent slug population, but I suppose with a fierce cat lurking in the bushes they’re wise to stay away.

Summer Columbo

Posted in Columbo with tags , on May 22, 2010 by telescoper

People keep asking me how Columbo is getting on and I realise it’s been ages since I posted an update, so I thought I’d take the opportunity afforded by the fine weather to take a few snaps in the garden and put them on here. It’s actually 26 degrees in the shade as I post this, which is warm enough for Columbo to see refuge behind the Forsythia. It can’t be much fun having to wear a fur coat in this weather.

I took Columbo to the vet yesterday for a six-monthly check up during which they took a blood sample to test his blood sugars. There was only one vet on duty yesterday so there was a long wait to get into the consulting room during which time lots of people with dogs arrived. It was also very warm, with the result that both dogs and owners were a bit tetchy because of the delay. I was a bit worried when a rather nasty-looking pit bull came in, thinking he might take an unhealthy interest in Columbo’s box, but he confined himself to having a go at one of the other dogs and was banished to the car park.

Columbo wasn’t at all bothered by the heat and noise. In fact I could hear him purring in his box. He likes this vet more than any other I can remember, and when we did get called in he continued to purr, at least until they took the blood sample.

I hadn’t seen this particular vet before, but she had all his notes. Columbo turned 16 in March this year, but he’s still doing pretty well especially when you consider he’s been diabetic for the last 5 years or so and has needed special food and twice-daily injections of insulin. He’s showing his age a bit and has slowed down quite a bit, but still has his moments. He’s taken on quite a bit of ballast since the last visit – at 7.35 kilos he’s quite a heavyweight – but the vet said that she wasn’t very worried about that given his age. He’s always been a bit greedy and if he ever lost his appetite that would be a bad sign.

I have to wait for the blood works to come back before we know whether his insulin dose needs changing, so there’s no news on that. However, there is one development since his last visit. The vet last time wasn’t sure, but after yesterday’s examination this vet was pretty certain that he has a bit of arthritis. I’ve notice he has pretty stiff legs from time to time, which don’t seem to cause any pain, but they do stop him jumping onto the kitchen table. Anyway, he’s been started on glucosamine tablets now. It’s not a big deal as I take glucosamine myself. I’ve got knackered legs too, you see.

One of the effects of his weight and arthritis is that he finds it a little difficult to groom himself all over, so I have to give him a good going over with a metal brush. He likes this on his head and upper body, but isn’t very happy when I brush his belly or hind quarters. Given the season, loads of hair comes off on the brush and without this he’d get a bit matted and moth-eaten.

Anyway, that’s all for now. He’s basically doing fine and, as you can see from the first picture, despite the advancing years he’s still a handsome chap!

POSTSCRIPT 24th May. Got the blood results back. They’re fine. Back to the vet in 6 months.


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