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Monday, July 28, 2008


1998 - 2008

Update: The results of some tests that had been done on his last visit to the vet came back yesterday. Apparently there was more wrong than just the infection, they think he might have had a brain tumour now, but would have had to do some more tests to be sure. They feel that explains the cause of the blown pupil. Perhaps he did lose his balance and fall, or perhaps he knew and chose his own destiny. Rhona continues to search but now maybe it's best she doesn't find what's left of him, for her sake. Thank you all for your kindness.

Sai-Loh (Cantonese for 'little brother') came into my life in 1998, when I visited the SPCA (Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) looking for a friend for Toffee, whom I got from the same place two years before. I had just about given up that day as none of the cats available for adoption, seemed the sort that would be a good pal for my Toffolo (one of his pet names).

As I was about to leave and come back another day, two big green eyes met mine. There was this lovely tortoiseshell cat looking up at me, from an area which was marked 'not for adoption'. I leaned down to read the card on this cat's cage and discovered why it wasn't up for adoption - the death knell was sounding and he was to be put down the next morning.

I found an attendant and asked about this 'Bess' and she told me that it was OK, they were just getting organised for the next morning. So off I went, proud owner of a cat saved from death row. Until I got to the desk to sign the paperwork and pay the adoption fee. I said: "You do realise this cat isn't a female cat?" After much examining of the nether region, it was decided that yes, indeed, this was a male cat named Bess. Not that there was much doubt on that score!

I was forbidden to take her, now him, home as it was very clear he'd not been neutered and their policy is that no animal leaves, capable of reproducing. I reluctantly left him behind that evening, they wouldn't even let me have him with a promise of returning for 'the operation' another day. So I asked for them to let me know as soon as he was ready to come home.

Two days later, I got the call and rushed in to get him. I was speaking with the assistant at the entrance to the recovery area and a moment letter heard this loud miaowing from the front of the room. He'd remembered my voice and was calling for me! This from a cat that hardly miaowed in his entire life (as I was to find out later). This little fellow had my heart right then, and forever more.

He was about a year old and had been on the street all his life, so he wasn't that comfortable being inside. But he adapted to life on the 34th floor. When he first came home, as night fell, he'd make his way up to the top of the highest point accessible to him (usually the top of the wardrobe in my bedroom) and all you'd see was that little face. He'd spend the night there, no doubt relying on his street sense to keep himself safe while he slept. Another street habit he had, and which I saw broken only on this last visit, was that he'd drink only from a running tap, never standing water.

When I first took him home, the vet said that with another male cat there, it would be a difficult transition and to keep them apart with a door between them for the first few days. Ha! He walked in the room, Toffolo loved him up and within 15 minutes they were sound asleep rolled up together, sharing Toffolo's bed. That's what they were like for the next nine years, inseparable.

He spent a year with me in Hong Kong before we all moved to Tenerife, where he spent another seven years with sunshine and clean air, most of it with my sister. He thrived and became a wonderful loving cat, once a few years of 'mad half-hours' was out of his system. He was actually capable of running around a room, along the walls, about five feet from the floor. We called it his 'wall of death' routine.

I visited every year, always wanting to see how my babes were doing and he was doing well. Except that during this last visit, I found that to not be the case. I posted about it here. It now seems that on Wednesday, my sister took him back to the vet and he was diagnosed again as having a bad infection in his mouth and head. More antibiotics were given and he was taken home. After dropping him at home, my sister then took the dogs out to the beach for a few hours and upon returning, found no sign of Sai-Loh. She searched and searched and nothing. He was nowhere in the apartment. She searched outside, nothing. Now she thinks he must have jumped onto the neighbour's sun awning and then onto a wall and away. Something he's not done in seven years.

Maybe he did, or maybe he fell and wandered off. Maybe he reverted to being a street cat and wanted to go away alone, to die after being sick for two weeks. Maybe, so many things. But one thing that is not a maybe, is that had she been taking better care of him, she'd have noticed he wasn't well and would most likely have caught the infection sooner. And she didn't tell me about all this until Saturday, three days after it happened, and as a sort of after-thought on an email about other things.

What hurts the most is knowing he probably suffered terribly during his last hours, his last days. And that he was a strong, healthy cat all his life and didn't deserve to go like this. He deserved better.

I'll always remember my silent, strong Sai-jai, my little street warrior. The tough kid who could put very large dogs in their place. Toffolo's precious buddy. A good cat, a good friend. He touched my heart, he touched my life.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Living Life in Shorthand

I feel as though I'm living my life in shorthand these days. As though there isn't enough time in the day to do anything in a deliberate, laboured way.

I shower quickly.

I eat on the run 90% of the time (not sure when I last had a meal that required me to sit at a table with a knife and fork).

I run projects out without double-checking and hope they're okay (so far so good).

I have nine piles of work around me at the moment, NINE! I usually have three - must be done today, must be done this week, must be done by month-end. Now I have all those other piles which contain a jumble of all sorts of things, from reading to pending to must be done sometime, to how the f**k am I going to get this done!

I can put my face on in the morning, in under two minutes (not that very much goes on the face, only daytime moisturiser, two eyeliners, mascara and lip stain).

I get home at about 10pm-ish (I start at about 6:30am), walk out of my clothes on the way to the bathroom, shower and collapse in front of the telly but haven't managed to watch an entire programme for over two weeks.

It just feels like I'm propelling myself into a flat spin and am losing control over the simplest of things. At the weekend, I use Sunday to sleep and try to recover from the pace of the week. I think I'm getting too old to sustain this level of commitment, although I've promised my boss two more years with her. I had to, she looked like she was going to pass out when I broached the subject of my leaving recently. At least she's promised to put another assistant for me in our 2009 headcount budget. However, that's not approved yet and we may be about to enter a hiring freeze, even though our Paris project is confirmed and another US one may well be on the cards.

I work hard. I get paid well. I enjoy what I do. But damn, I wish I was able to do it better right now.

P.S. Yes, those are my squiggles. That is the first paragraph of this post. Thank you Dad for insisting I train to be a secretary, I still have a use for my shorthand, from good note-taking to being able to write things in front of other people and not have them know what I'm writing ;)

Friday, July 18, 2008

No. 2 Cat

Update as of now - Am worried about the boy, his infection is back and the vet can't work out why as she removed the source. It must still be rampaging through his system. He's back to turning down his food and one pupil is blown again, apparently whatever it is, it's pressing on his optic nerve. They're giving him a stronger antibiotic. My fingers and toes are crossed that he's going to be OK.

This beautiful boy has just been subjected to 48 hours at the vet and they're not ready to let him go for another 10 hours.

When we got to Tenerife, I found that he had a very snotty nose and there was dried snot all around it. When I asked Rhona about it she denied all knowledge of it and said she hadn't noticed anything. Well, the only way you wouldn't see that is if you literally didn't see it. And she obviously hadn't looked at the boy for days. With my blood boiling I cleaned him up as best I could (and also took care of his 'brother' who had very weepy and crusty eyes).

I told her that there was clearly something wrong as a healthy cat doesn't have a runny nose (Toffee's eyes are a constant problem and just need to be cleaned every day or so) and his coat also was showing signs of him not being in top condition. He was very affectionate with Steve and I and was eating well so she said she would take him in to the vet in a day or so - I reminded her again as I was leaving.

Sunday rolled around and still no treatment had been sought. She went home that evening and found him alternating between standing staring into a corner or looking for a dark place to hide. Upon noticing that one of his pupils was totally dilated, she rushed him to the emergency vet, whereupon she was told that he had a huge infection in his gums and it had also moved up above his palate. He was, it seems, in a very critical condition. They pumped him full of antibiotics and sent him home with her, to rest. On Tuesday she took him to his usual vet, who found serious inflammation around three teeth and booked him in for surgery on Thursday to have the teeth removed. So much for regular vet's visits, she told me they had been going, so now I'm worried about their shots being up to date. Something I'll be chasing her about very soon.

When they got in there, they took out those three teeth and two others, and even though he apparently did well in the surgery, they wanted to keep him in for overnight observation. I'm hoping it's all going to be okay. I'll get him and his brother back soon and they'll be looked after properly. Rhona leaves the cats alone for very long periods of time as she has been spending nights at her boyfriend's and not even going home after work to take care of them. Probably just loads up their food dishes and disappears for a couple of days. Gggggrrrrrr!

I won't even go into the state of the apartment - MY apartment - which she's been living in rent-free for the past almost eight years. Oh well, I'll have to fix it up before I can put it on the market when she moves out but that will be a big project as it needs a total overhaul.

So much more to say about my sister, I came away from that trip feeling disappointed and downright angry, not to mention being totally embarrassed by her behaviour. She outdid herself that time and I was totally pissed off with her and her boyfriend. She chose the bottle and that obnoxious person over spending time with Steve and I. And when she did spend time with us, her behaviour was absolutely atrocious most of the time.

I was glad to leave, only sad to say goodbye to Lupo and the cats. But not for long. Now I have to prepare my life for having my babes back with me. Or rather, with US!

Update: He's home, he's eating like a demon with the remaining teeth and purring like his old self. A happy cat :)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Pandas, Real and Mock

During Steve's visit to Hong Kong in May, we took a trip to Ocean Park where they have a 'Panda Environment'. This is the entrance to the giant panda's home:

Inside, we saw these magnificent animals doing the thing they love doing, second best (eating is the first thing):

I'm really not one for animals in captivity, but the earthquake in Sichuan province has posed a terrible threat to the panda community. Some years back, after a less severe earthquake, the bamboo plant (which panda's thrive on) burst into bloom and died off. The fear is that this will happen again. And with only approximately 1,500 pandas left in the wild, breeding programmes in captivity could well be the difference between this species surviving, or not.

I wasn't allowed to leave until Steve captured me sporting a panda headband :)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Back to the Grindstone

Back to a mountain (almost 800) of emails and a full intray. I managed to pick up some viral bug, too. And I miss my husband all over again!

We had a quite simply awesome time, bar one extremely ugly episode - which lasted three out of the five days - courtesy of my sister. That man I married continues to prove to me just how amazing he is. How wonderful he is. How much he loves me. And how very blessed I am to have him in my life. Every chance we get to spend time together, we grow more in love with each other.

Our ports of call included Edinburgh, Lower Burnmouth, Darlington, York and finally Tenerife - and we spent a couple of nights at airport hotels. We saw wonderful places, met great people (I'll not include my sister or her boyfriend in that group, though) enjoyed a lot of laughs and loving moments together. And for me the best part of it all was that I got to spend time with my two favourite guys - Steve and Lupo.

P.S. Lupo totally adores him :)


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