Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Biting the hand that feeds the cat you steal the food from

Blog absence can be caused by many things; work, travel, family needs, fine weather, illness or injury, etc etc. While work has severely curtailed by blogging time in recent months what actually stopped me typing lately was a bite from a feral cat.

The Feral Cat has a history of beating up our cat. It's huge, hard to see at night what with the shabby black coat, and has little fear of humans. Several years ago it nearly killed our puss, and it comes and goes randomly, usually disappearing for several weeks or even months in between maimings.

About six weeks ago it got our kitty big time, requiring shaving of part of her head, anti-biotics, $200 in vet fees, and general extra tender love and care for the poor thing. A week after that I heard her calling out for help one night, yowling and howling, so out I went to rescue her. Coming out the front door I could see her cowering at the bottom of the stairs, making an awful noise. The FC was further up the stairs, between me and my beloved, and it wasn't going anywhere except closer and closer to our cat, who was still in a weakened state from their earlier altercation. My only choice appeared to be to pick up the FC to save our kit.

I'd had to do this once before in a similar situation, and the FC hadn't struggled. I'd thrown it over the fence on to the property next door (not residential) and it had stared disdainfully back before sauntering slowly off, making it quite clear that it was going that way anyway and I had had little impact on its original plans. So I wasn't too worried about plucking it from the stairs again.

Big mistake. It turned, sank its fangs into the back of my hand and when I swore, loudly, and dropped it, it just hissed at me and stood where it landed. Hand bleeding and immobile I shooed it away (the FC merely repeated its usual slow saunter to behind the rubbish bins) and then somehow I managed to drag our cat inside, feeling very sorry for myself.

It didn't really seem that bad, and my partner thought it was just another minor bite, which I'd had from our kitty in the past with little trouble. Washed it, put antiseptic manuka honey stuff on it, and repeated all this in the morning, headed off to work.

By lunchtime almost the whole back of my hand was swollen and red. Workmates were discussing blood poisoning and amputation. One volunteered to drive me to a doctor, which I took up. I ended up with massive doses of antibiotics, a bandage worthy of a much bigger wound around my hand and wrist, and a sling. I went back to work for a while but went green and had to take a cab home. Couldn't even sign the credit card receipt.

Three days later I was able to go back to work properly, lower the antibiotic dose and stop making daily doctor trips for check-ups. In the interim my hand had been debrided twice. If you don't know what that means and you want to gross yourself out then google it. If not then all you need to know is that it is really quite painful, but effective.

It's several weeks later now and still it hasn't fully healed. The two bite marks are raised, and oscillate between pink and purple. They hurt sometimes when I put pressure on my hand. But I can type freely, and bath Wriggly, which is a great relief.

One thing that bugged me about this was my own discounting of my concern that it was a real problem right from the start. I was so worried about being a stereotypically hypochondriac woman that I didn't take it seriously, and still I justify it by telling people that the first nurse I saw told me the other cat bite victim she'd seen that day had to go to Middlemore Hospital. Later on in the process a doctor told me that hands are particularly worrisome places to have cat bites, as the proximity to so many complex membranes means if infection gets out of hand then surgery is the only option.

So the lessons I've learnt are twofold:
  1. Take a broom to fend off the FC with.
  2. Don't dismiss my instincts about my health to avoid being seen as a delicate fragile flower of womanhood.
Any suggestions on disposing humanely of the FC, who has returned to our hood this week, most welcome!


SMSD said...

I think this cat must be related to Lord Voldemort. That wound sounds like a feline version of the dark mark.

As far as dealing with this cat, have you considered deploying a hose/bucket of water?

Idiot/Savant said...

I use a nerf shotgun to deal with foreign cats; both barrels usually does the trick.

Tidge said...

Harsh; but if it's truly feral, I'd get one of those possum traps that just traps them inside a wire cage and take it to the vets to be euthanised. I doubt it's fixed, and I bet your cat isn't the only one it's mauling, nor you the only human. It's likely killing native birds due to not being fed, as well.

Boganette said...

Wow what an evil bastard cat. I hope you feel better soon.

Have you called the SPCA about the cat? They should come and trap it and then put it down. It's not a nice life being a feral cat.

Though that's not an excuse for biting someone and generally being a pain in the ass.

We used to get feral cats around our place but then my cat is a real badass and I'm pretty sure he destroyed them all within a week. Or at least banished them to another street.

Placebogirl said...

If you want the cat removed from the area permanently (and it sounds like you have good cause to want that) I agree with Boganette that the SPCA is your best bet. They are also placed to determine whether it is truly feral (has no hope of finding a home and must be euthanised) or stray (could potentially be calmed down enough for a home).

In the meantime, if at all possible it might be worth keeping your poor kitty indoors at night (I HATE suggesting this on a feminist blog, it feels all blame-the-victim). I have a cat who was a bit of a scrapper (which I am not suggesting your cat is--this is purely my own experience) and our vet bills went down a lot when we started keeping him in at night (also recommended by at least one vet at the SPCA for cat safety reasons. We're lucky, though, we have a cat who loves tuna (and so will come home for it) and who has trained himself to go before he comes inside (thus the litterbox we have hardly ever gets used). I knwo the inside-at-night solution isn't for everyone.

Joe Hendren said...

A supersoaker waterpistol and if that doesn't work - the hose. Idea being to negatively reinforce any thoughts the FC has of visiting your place.

Sorry to hear your hand has given you so much trouble. Hope Mara is recovering ok, sounds like one nasty feral cat.

Anonymous said...

i highly recommend keeping your cat indoors at night. we started this for our ten year old and he worked out the routine within a few weeks. might need a litter tray for the first few weeks.

It'll also mean your cat won't be outdoors at sunrise and thus potentially catching birds from the dawn chorus. Ours catches only cycadas now.

Cactus Kate said...

Another ACC injury?

For goodness sake, I don't know when people are in these situations they don't do the obvious and just KICK the feral cat. A nice size 9 to the little bastard and it wont be around to harm your little kitty cat.

Picking it up just gives it a chance to do what it did to you.

Julie said...

Thanks for all the feedback. I'd really like to avoid hurting the FC if at all possible, but it's seeming less and less likely. Partly this is due to my partner's soft-hearted approach to animals. If we get the SPCA involved there's a high probability the FC would be put down. It's not really it's fault that it's feral, I guess. As time goes by I am feeling more sympathetic to the FC's position!

Our cat does already come in at night (when we can catch her, which is most of the time, especially in winter!) she curls up on our bed for sleeping, which is lovely. I have two small scars from the FC on the back of my hand - her body must be covered in them.

I tried to get the FC the other night with the hose but couldn't get it to work! Whenever I hear our puss screeching I generally take the broom now. This is a really big cat (not fat, BIG) - kicking it would just mean it mauls my leg instead of my hand. Will keep my eyes open for a trusty water pistol too :-)

Boganette said...

It's better for the FC to be put down. It wouldn't have a very good life. It's probably got really bad fleas and worms. So it's probably pretty miserable. The kindest thing you could do is get it put down. End it's suffering. In my opinion anyway.

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