A cat crisis …

There we were – on the afternoon of Tuesday 11th September – quietly enjoying a balmy early autumnal afternoon in the conservatory with our two cats, Eggy and Ilsa. Some serious bird watching going on too.A few minutes later I went into the garden to water the plants, and Ilsa followed, ambling off somewhere …

Suddenly – noise – drama – and there down the path I could see Ilsa in the forecourt, but ….. under 5 dogs. There was a terrible din – they were all barking furiously while the dog-owner and his young son tried frantically to pull the dogs off her. I don’t really know how to convey in text my absolute panic and horror.  Suffice it to say I dropped everything I was carrying and tore out into the forecourt, yelling blue murder to those dogs and their owner.

Miraculously Ilsa escaped the dogs and fled over the neighbours’ wall, but then – perhaps in her panic – she continued into the nearby field.  So the dogs followed her – as did we all. At last we were able to pull them off her, and,  with her scooped up in my arms, get her away from the dogs.

At first it wasn’t clear how wounded Ilsa was, but she was breathing extremely fast, and I didn’t want to explore her wounds then and there for fear of making her more anxious.  So we had a brief sort of conversation with the dog-owner (who seemed as stunned as we) and his son, and set off for the vets.

The vets were lovely – professional and quick to give immediate treatment.  It transpired that Ilsa had been bitten on her rear right leg and her lower belly and was bleeding quite heavily from this wound.  However, they were particularly concerned that her breathing was so fast, and feared she might have also sustained a puncture wound on her lung.  So she was hospitalized for the night with antibiotics, painkillers, and tender loving care.

But she was OK.  Extraordinarily for such a dog attack, she hadn’t been ripped to shreds and left as meat.  The more I think about it, the more amazed I am that worse hadn’t occurred.  Had the dogs just been playing with her?

After leaving Ilsa at the vets, we went to see the dog owner. In part this was because I was aware that he’d had his young son with him who had been extremely distressed and tearful during the attack, and I wanted to give reassurance to this little boy that she would be alright.  I’m glad that we were able to do that because his mother reported that she’d put him to bed looking like he’d seen a ghost.  Poor little lad.

It transpired when talking to the dog owner that he’d been walking staffies and pit bulls and a chihuahua, and it had been a single disobedient staffie that caused the damage to our cat.  I really want to emphasize this because it’s not really what we are led to expect about such dogs. The dog owner immediately said he would pay the vet’s bill.

Of course, the problem only occurred because he was walking his dogs off the lead past our group of houses …..

The next day we brought Ilsa home.  It turned out that she hadn’t experienced any lung damage.  And we were reassured that her wound should heal fine – but take time as she was pretty bruised.

Oh, poor little Ilsa.  This what a cat does when it feels terrible – burrowing deeply into nice safe soft places (my unspun fleece basket) …Nevermind we thought – she needs to take her time as the vets said. But she’ll be back to normal soon.

But she wasn’t. Over the weekend she deteriorated and next week she was so poorly we headed back to the vets, only to be told that the antibiotics hadn’t worked and the wound was infected. So they whisked her back into surgery, put drains in her infected belly and gave her different antibiotics. Her poor belly looked awful …We’d been warned that suppurating drains make a terrible mess, so drugget preparation was necessary.  Our sitting room became a hospital ward (cat litter included) …Perhaps nastiest of all (to her!) she’d come home with the dreaded cone …Now a cone is horrible on all small animals, but is also a particular problem if you happen to have a very flat face.  Drinking required almost full immersion …Perhaps most worryingly she stopped eating, so we embarked on a program to syringe liquid high energy food into her mouth at regular intervals over the day and night. I made myself a bed in the sittingroom …Despite all this love and care, she was getting more and more unwell, so back we went to the vets as a second weekend approached.  We were at this stage more than slightly dazed from lack of sleep and worry about Ilsa and the growing vet bills (no, of course we didn’t have pet insurance) …

Horrific news.  Her wound was now so infected that the vets had to clean out a great hole of necrotic tissue (mercifully not on any of her organs) and she needed to spend the weekend at the vets on a drip with more antibiotics.  Her huge wound required sluicing out a couple of times a day.

We were allowed to visit Ilsa on Sunday in the surgery, and frankly it was almost more disturbing than not seeing her.  They were looking after her beautifully – faultless efficient medical care, very lovingly administered …But our little cat wanted to come home!We finally got to take her home on Monday, but had to return her to have her wound washed out every day that week.

The good news was that she didn’t require a cone, and coped very well with living with her horrible hole …How we welcomed the news after a week of regular expensive sluicing trips that she could have her wound stitched and stapled! It doesn’t look very pretty …But she really did seem to be so much happier – and so were we!Apart from anything else the dog owner had given us a decent contribution to the vet bills. It nothing like covered the whole expense of course, but at least made us feel that he recognised the damage that his dogs had done.She was starting to get back to normal pursuits, joining Eggy in the woolly room with me …And even taking tentative steps outside – tail up, a happy cat!Even back to a little mousing with Eggy …Whew!

Today Ilsa went to the vets and had the staples removed.  The stitches lying under the staples come out in a couple of days.  She’s been pronounced nearly back to normal – well, almost.  The bite damage to her leg is lasting and she will never quite have the mobility she once had with that leg – and there’ll be a scar!  But hey …

It’s been an overwhelming month.  Partly the horrifying initial attack – though that did not turn out be as bad as we originally thought – but even more the rollercoaster of worry about her increasing infections and the rising costs of veterinary care.  We felt out of control.

So we haven’t been out and about on long trips, but there has been quite a bit of quiet sewing and crocheting …

After my malaise earlier this summer which I wrote about in my last blog post, I was suddenly inspired to ask my cousin, Polly, if she had any of her fabric prints that I might embroider. (You can read more about her fabric printing in our earlier GiveWrap posts). These are some of the prints she sent me …I was very taken with the deep orange print with swirly yellow lozenges. It’s quite small, but once pieced together with similarly toned fabrics gave me an interesting start …The lozenges spread out …Until I reached the point where I am now with the piece propped up on a tall chest of drawers while I decide about the edging.  I can either go for the darker spotted fabric (on the right) or the lighter fabric (on the left).  What do you think?That embroidery was very pleasing to do – calming and meditative – and helped keep me occupied in difficult times.

I also crocheted these little Toft elephant friends for some little girls who have a new baby sister – a very belated welcome present to all the family.  When I wrote about my listlessness earlier this summer, somebody wisely told me that there is nothing like making presents for others to give you your mojo back.  Thank you, friend, you were quite right!What a relief to be back to normal!(Cats find mice in the darndest places!)


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20 thoughts on “A cat crisis …”

  1. OH my what a horrendous time you have had of it, and so glad there is a happy ending. Having witnessed dogs fighting the best way to stop one is a bucket of cold water, or a good dousing with the hose pipe.
    I love your embroidery- I prefer the darker fabric. And those elephants are just so cute.
    Hugs to your little moggy.xx


    1. Thank you for all your kind words, Cathy – the darker is obviously the fabric to go for! I actually thought of throwing water – but of course there’s never any to hand when you need it! We’re just very very grateful our little kit is doing so well x


  2. Two thoughts! One is that the dog owner really should foot the bill for every penny of your vet bills! Second is that clearly you needed some beauty after all the suppuration and staples, because your embroidered piece is lovely (and I like the darker trim). I hope you all have a less eventful month now.


    1. I agree in principle about the money – but it’s not simple. He was slow to pay up so we investigated what means we had to force him to pay, and all that we could have done is taken out a civil case against him (which we would have had to pay for up front – only getting costs refunded if judge agreed). We had no guarantee of course that that would prove worth it – especially as the vets discovered one of the bugs Ilsa was suffering from was MRSA, and all our medical friends instantly said – that’s come from the vets! (In fact they were very generous and gave us the last 5 consultations and an operation free – or were they just feeling guilty …?!) Whatever, he could reasonably have disputed the costs. All this research was adding to the stress – which we just didn’t need. At the end of the day, I just felt we had to let it go. And yes – time to enjoy some beautiful (thank you) and very comforting things …. 🙂


  3. Oh that’s so awful, your poor kitty… she looks quite a lot like mine, I’m so glad she’s recovered. That was just horrifying to read. Best wishes to you all!


  4. Poor Ilsa! Poor you, who had to go through with all this. I’m so glad she’s recovered. I’m going to have to agree with Frith Barbat though, the dog owners should be responsible for 100% of the vet bills – that’s what insurance is for, and with dogs 3rd party insurance is mandatory.
    My cat Marshmallow needed surgery after we discovered she had 4 bladder stones – with the exams, it all went to about £2,000. I’m so grateful for insurance!

    As for the embroidery, the dark fabric looks most pleasing to my eye 🙂


    1. Gosh you must have been glad of your insurance for Marshmallow’s surgery! Our vets costs weren’t quite as expensive as that – and if you read what I’ve said to Frith above you’ll see they might have been even more expensive! I’ve also explained there why we accepted the limited money from the dogwalker so gratefully – a lot of it was to do with stress, and the fact that our options were so limited. I’ve never heard before that 3rd party insurance is mandatory for dogs – I just know the dog walker didn’t have insurance. An awful lot of dogs seem to fall through the net …

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I was indeed super glad! We would have gotten into our savings gladly to give her relief but it was great having something to fall back on.
        I get the stress bit. You were very kind to the dog walker, especially considering it’s illegal to own such a business uninsured… Third party insurance is mandatory for dogs because they’re liable to cause damage to others – cats, on the other hand, are seen as free spirits in the eye of the law and therefore don’t require it 🙂
        Give Ilsa a little cuddle for me!


  5. So great to get a post from you. Very relieved to get to end and find Ilsa will be ok. The light fabric is a bit distracting – the dark is lovely and enhances your stitches. Hope the next month is way more peaceful and happy for you!


    1. Thank you so much, Avie – I did think of you as I wrote it! It largely explains why I’ve been so silent for so long – just in another awful world. I’m definitely going for the darker fabric! 🙂


  6. Poor cat! Poor you too! My dog was attacked by two Staffies and I know how terrifying it is to see it happening. Like you, we had no pet insurance for the massive vet’s bill but the Staffies’ owner legged it so we had no contribution from him. I’ve got to the stage when I don’t want to walk across our own fields for fear of meeting out of control agressive dogs. Glad that Ilsa is getting back to normal now. She’s a plucky cat.
    I like your lozenge embroidery. My vote goes to the darker on the right.


    1. I’m very sorry to read this, Anne – but interested too. I don’t know much about Staffies, but did some research and I see that the RSPCA says they’re wonderful pets. Doesn’t sound like it from your story! Did you report the attack to the police? We were under a lot of pressure to do that from friends and neighbours but I didn’t feel that the attack was exceptionally vicious. Our problems really came from the continued infections … (and of course it would have made it much harder to get money from the owner if we’d gone to the police). I am very sad to read that you no longer enjoy walking round your own farm, but the fact that dog walkers enjoy using your “facilities” doesn’t surprise me. We live in old farm buildings which is why dog walkers feel free to let their dogs loose on the fields around us, and I am terrified there will be another attack – though my neighbour tells me she has noticed more dogs on leads round us so we think word had got round.


      1. My brother-in-law had a Staffie, which was wonderful with humans but couldn’t be trusted with other dogs. I didn’t report the attack to the police as man had the dogs on the lead – they were just too strong for him.
        I hope your cats stay safe. The dogs aren’t the problem, it’s the owners.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I was pretty horrified when i read pitbulls and staffies…both can be hugely damaging to small beasties. Staffies have beautiful natures but they be bred to bite and lock their jaws. We had a cross once who could be lifted up hanging onto a toy…and tbey are muscle on legs. Poor wee cat…it is remarkable she’s ok. No one should walk a pack off leash ever.

    Your creativity is fully juiced again and extraordinary. You and Polly make an incredible partnership. My preference is for the darker binding.


    1. I think I’ve been very naive (and ignorant!) about these dogs, Rebecca – am learning so much just from these comments alone. At the end of the day our cat’s ok – and it’s time to put this all behind us and explore some nicer things – GiveWraps here I come!


  8. What a saga, and beautifully described as ever. You are the most devoted pet-parents. I would have been the same with Abigail, my last cat. Good to see too how the embroidery-on-print has turned out – love all those swirly continuations. I like both edges! Anyway you’ve doubtless decided by now. I hope you’re going to keep this one not turn it into a GiveWrap? I wonder what has happened with the other prints…….


    1. I think most pet-parents feel as we do – you just want to do everything to get your pet OK again. I’m going for the darker green edge – following lots of advice above. And you’ll probably be seeing some more GiveWraps made with your prints soon!


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