We were cooking lunch yesterday with our usual furry audience keeping a careful eye on the proceedings.
The kitchen cats were sitting on the windowsill outside, peering in and making sure we remembered to put out their plate of trimmings and scraps. Target was watching the kitchen cats and growling because he loathes them but Swooner was sitting by my feet, meowing, “Is it ready yet? Is it ready now? How about now?” because no matter how often we tell him, he’s convinced that meowing makes it all work faster.
Usually Swooner just sits on the floor but yesterday he decided that he needed to check out the kitchen cats up close and personal. So he backed up, his bottom wriggling as he worked out the height of the counter top, the angle he would hit it, the elevation he’d need to reach … and I stood by nervously, ready to catch him if he should fall.
The average cat can leap six times his own height with no problem. If you think about it, that’s rather an amazing skill. If we could do it, then someone who’s just five foot five could jump into a third-floor window from ground level.
The kitchen counter is only four times or so Swooner’s height so it should have been a doddle. However, our littlest cat has been strictly floor-bound until now because he has a dodgy paw.
You see, when we adopted Swooner, we noticed straight away that when he sits up, the toes on his right front paw sometimes curl up. He had a graze on his shoulder, so we thought he might be bruised or have a pulled muscle. The first day he was with us, we gave him a huge meal, let him settle and, when the vet opened, we took him in for his first check-up.
The vet pronounced him healthy, and he got his shots and so on, but the paw proved to be a problem. It took a second vet and an X-ray to pinpoint the exact problem. Our little cat had been in an accident. At some point in his young life, he’d dislocated his paw. It hadn’t been treated, so the paw had healed by itself.
The challenge about cats is that they’re small, with complex bodies. You don’t get the kind of physique that lets you jump six times your own height without some complicated stuff going on inside. Also, many vets never get to see this kind of thing.
We found some vets with experience and we consulted with senior vets long-distance but they all told us the same thing: If Swooner had been taken in when it happened, they would have put him under, rotated the paw back to its proper position and then prayed an awful lot that all the muscles, tendons and so on healed.
This wasn’t new to us because when Target, our senior cat, dislocated his paw a couple of years ago, we rushed him to the vet. He did exactly that and, today, our kitty is perfectly fine – although he walks with a limp.
So we wanted to know, could Swooner be fixed? And the vets all suggested that as the accident had taken place some months ago, when Swooner must have been a tiny kitten, all the muscles and tendons had grown around the bone. Messing with it, they told me, was extremely risky and not advisable.
When an animal is in pain and you can’t fix it, the kind thing to do is to put it to sleep. Thankfully, everyone agreed that Swooner wasn’t in any pain whatsoever. Our own vet suggested that I go home, feed Swooner up and watch him. He gave me sensible advice which we followed to the letter.
It took just a couple of days to confirm that Swooner doesn’t mind his dicky paw at all. He climbed my curtains with gay abandon, ripped apart a sofa cushion using all four paws, and wrestled with Target, playfully kicking with all four paws as he bit our long-suffering senior kitty in the chin.
However, we did notice some differences. Both Guido and Target soar up our garden wall, no issues. Swooner, though, didn’t even attempt it. He kept to the sofa and bed, and made the little wooden bench his own.
So, when Swooner backed up and made ready to jump up, I was hovering nervously.
And you know what? He made it! Yes, our little cat was up in one graceful jump.
While I showered praise over him, Swooner purred, meowed happily with the kitchen cats and then turned to look over the kitchen countertops.
And that’s when I remembered that the other thing about our newest family member is that he is a shameless thief. Watching Swooner itemise the chopping boards, the plates and the other preparations for lunch, I picked him up and put him firmly on the floor.
“Kitchen countertops aren’t for kitties,” I told him. But those slanting brown eyes were looking up at mine, filled with burgeoning mischief. The kitchen cats were meowing at him in what sounded like encouragement too.
So much for triumph, right? I have the feeling that this marks the nulpunkt, the point zero of a new era marked by kitchen robbery and food thievery. I’ll let you know how it goes.