Alpine Mummy

A new life in the middle of nowhere

It’s official. I’m a crazy cat-lady.

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It’s been an expensive couple of weeks.  Our cat, Millie, has really been testing our affections, and has managed to run up some rather hefty vet’s bills.

We got Millie and her sister Lucette from a rescue centre in 2006.  They were two years old but were absolutely tiny and looked just like kittens.  They had suffered a hard life already, having been abused by their previous owners.  They were in the rescue centre with their mum and their father/brother.  No, “father/brother” doesn’t mean we didn’t know if this cat was their father or brother.  We knew.  He was their father.  And their brother.  Indeed.

So yes, having never had any animals before (other than suicidal goldfish), Alpine Papa and I found ourselves looking after (and falling in love with) two very scared, very furry, very inbred cats.  When we got them home they immediately hid in the cupboard under the stairs, and it took some time (and a lot of tuna fish) to coax them out, of both the cupboard and themselves.  But coax them out we did, at least to some extent, and these cute balls of fluff were soon keeping us warm through those long UK winters (and covering our clothes, house, and guests’ legs in long, white cat hair.  Joy).

Millie got sick in about 2007.  Luckily she was insured, because her treatment ran into thousands of pounds.  This is when she first started to test how much we loved her:  for months on end we had to force steroid tablets down her throat with every meal – not an easy feat – to combat the liver disease which was making her as yellow as a corn-fed chicken.  Finally she overcame that, hurrah.  Then we found out she had diabetes.  Not hurrah.  Treatment for diabetes in cats?  Insulin injections. Every 12 hours.  No joke.  Ever tried to inject a cat?  It’s not easy.  We had just moved to London, I had just started my training contract, and I was being paid a proper salary for the first time ever.  We should have been out on the town all the time, making the most of those bright city lights and gold pavements.  Instead I had to be home by midnight – not in case my black cab turned into a pumpkin, but rather because Millie would get sick again if we didn’t inject her on time.  This caused much mirth amongst my new friends – “no sorry, I’ve got to go home now, I need to inject the cat” was a common if somewhat bizarre comment from me on Friday nights.

But, luckily for our finances (the insurance had by then run out) and for our social life, the diabetes went away after a year, and all was good again.  And Millie worked her way back into her hearts, as we slowly forgave her for ruining our social life…

Lucette sadly died at Christmas 2008, and Millie was a bit lost for a while.  But she filled that big hole in her life by becoming more affectionate towards us, and she spent more and more time on our laps (covering us in yet more hair).

This increased affection did (slightly) compensate for the fact that, basically, Millie’s not a good cat to have around.  She won’t go outside (except in the garden to sunbathe), and so we have to have a cat-litter tray which always seems to be in the way.  But although she has a litter tray, on occasion she seems to think it would be more amusing not to use it.  We therefore often come down in the morning to find a big cat crap on the floor.  Thanks Millie.  She moults.  Everywhere.  All the time.  I am constantly chasing balls of fluff along the floor with the Dyson, but it’s an interminable battle.  All black clothes – including our work suits – are generally covered in a layer of cat hair which never disappears, no matter how much we brush her or our clothes.  My brother-in-law is allergic to this never-ending supply of cat hair, so we have to keep a never-ending supply of antihistamines in the medicine cabinet.  She has ruined our sofa with her claws.  She’s a fussy eater who will only eat Iams cat food and tuna.  She sits on the stairs and on the kitchen floor, seemingly with the sole aim of tripping us up (something she achieves at least twice a day).  And I have lost count of the number of cardigans and jeans she has clawed holes in.

All in all, then, she is not the easiest pet.  Judging from Alpine Papa’s grumblings about her (and his shouts of anger each time we’re presented with yet another cat crap in an inappropriate place), he thinks so even more than I do.    I was therefore surprised (and quietly pleased) that he took it as a given that we would take Millie with us when we moved to France.

We had to get her a Pet Passport of course (it is an actual passport.  There is even a place to put her photo…Not kidding).  This came to about £200.  Alpine Girl’s French passport cost £13.  There’s something weird about that….

Alpine Papa then drove all the way to the Alps with Millie in the car, hoping that the journey didn’t kill her.  We had spent so much money on taking her with us, it would be rather unfortunate if she didn’t even get here…

But she made it, and seemed rather happy here, chasing crickets in the garden and lazing under the clear blue sky with not a care in the world.

But as the summer came to an end, a grey cloud appeared on the horizon – we were slowly running out of Iams, the only pet food Millie would eat.  Guess what?  You can’t buy Iams in France.  Disaster.   The little princess was loftily turning her nose up at any other delights we offered her, sneering and walking away in distaste as if we had just presented her with a fresh cowpat from the field next door.  As the Iams ran out, she just stopped eating.

We were tough though, we knew we could win that game.  So we continued to offer her French cat food.  She couldn’t go on hunger-strike forever.  She’d eat when she got hungry, right?

Um, apparently not.  I don’t know if Millie is a ‘special case’ or whether all cats are like this, but she would rather DIE than eat something she didn’t want.  Actually die.

After a few days it became clear that it wasn’t just a hunger strike; she was poorly.  We caved in and ordered some Iams from England.  But she refused that.  She even refused the tuna we offered.  That’s when we knew it was serious.  We took her to the vets who confirmed that her liver troubles were back.  We tried to treat her from home but soon she was so ill that she had to go in, and it was touch and go for a few days.  Her week-long stay in the animal hospital cost more than we would spend on a week-long stay in a nice hotel, and when we finally brought her home she would only eat roast chicken.  Spoilt cat.

But then, horror of horrors, we ran out of chicken.  So Alpine Papa made the 15 minute drive to the supermarket with the sole purpose of buying some fresh, free-range chicken (spoilt cat).  But it was Saturday evening.  And, in true French style, the supermarket was closed.  No 24-hour shopping here – frustratingly, shops close at 7.00pm on Saturday evening, and don’t open again until Monday morning.  Or Tuesday, sometimes (taking Mondays off because they open on Saturdays).  And everything (literally everything) closes for two hours at some point between midday and 3.00pm.  Heaven forbid that they actually make it easy for customers to do any shopping.

So Millie had to make do with no roast chicken.  So, again, the spoilt brat went on hunger strike and soon we had to take her back to the vets.  They ‘cured’ her again and now she’s back, eating so far.  I’m not convinced she’s not anorexic.  Bloody cat.

So, basically, I appear to love this annoying, stupid, hairy cat so much that I have somehow turned into one of those crazy cat-ladies that I swore I’d never be.  I have spent thousands of pounds on Millie’s wellbeing.  I have spent longer preparing her roast chicken than I have on preparing meals for my family.  I have imported cat food from the UK just because the French stuff doesn’t appeal.  What has happened to me?!

Millie obviously appreciates the fact that we have forgone all foreign travel for the next three years to pay for her vet’s fees, though.  When I came downstairs in the dark at 6.00 this morning, barefoot, I found that Millie had left me a present.  A cat crap on the floor.  Which I walked in.  Thanks Millie.

Anyone want a cat?

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Author: Alpine Mummy

Now an ex-City lawyer, I gave up London life 'just for a year' to spend my maternity leave in a tiny village in the French Alps. Nearly three years later Alpine Family is still here - the legal career is gone but we're living the dream (most of the time) and skiing and hiking our way through life. Walks and fresh air are now the order of the day - bye bye smog, hello mountains...

12 thoughts on “It’s official. I’m a crazy cat-lady.

  1. From one crazy cat lady to another – I loved reading this blog 🙂 My cat Nemo (which I keep calling mine but because I abandoned him for London 6 years ago he snubs his nose up at me half the time when I’m home & runs to Mum!) is, shall we politely say…high maintenance. Poor thing has had his nerves frayed with the earthquakes too – but despite him waking Mum up at all hours to go outside at night (not good when Mum has a 6am start), being super fussy with his food, leaving cat hair everywhere & running for the hills ever time a stranger walks in the house, we love him to bits. He’s 17 years old now so he’s part of our family & he’s such good company! Really pleased to hear Millie is doing better now at last. That’s crazy about the cat passport too… x

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  2. Oh my! I have to laugh at this. Animals are worse than kids sometimes! And no, I do not want a cat. 😉 I’m allergic.

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    • You’re right! And I do seem to spend most of my day cleaning up poo – either my kids’ or my cat’s. But at least the kids understand time out or naughty step (Alpine Boy does anyway) – our cat’s not bright enough to understand when she’s being told off for ruining the sofa yet again…

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  3. Ho dear, once you have a cat, especially one that is as fluffy as Millie, you cannot not love her. Having read this I should never have a cat of my own. When I was 10 or so I spent months trying to keep a pet rabbit alive after he’d contracted an ear parasite. Besides treating his ears daily, his hutch had to be completely disinfected every week, and seeing as he had a big hutch made of concrete outside by the garage wall, that took a lot of efforts week after week. In the end someone (no idea whom, must have been a master of subtle persuasion, as I hold no grudges) convinced me it would be more humane to euthanise him. I was surprisingly sad considering what a pain the treatment had been, and he wasn’t even affectionate. Besides, we had, at the same time, in the neighbouring hutches, rabbits that we grew to eat!
    Keep blogging 🙂

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  4. Hahahaha – this post shows to me what wonderful people you and your husband are (and that I am not alone in my crazy-will-do-anything-to-keep-my-cats-happy attitude.)

    We were down to one dog and no cats (they all got old and slowly died off) and were looking forward to some time of pet free living but due to a strange situation with our neighbors we now have two fish and two cats to go along with our old grumpy geriatric dog. One of the cats enjoys bringing in not quite dead rodents and feathery birds in shock through the doggy door and then leaving me to chase them down and remove from the house. Her saving grace is that she loves to sleep with our oldest son and on occasion snuggle up on my chest at night. The other cat eats his weight in expensive cat food everyday and will barely let us pet him. Sigh.

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    • Aw thank you! But I don’t think we’d be so wonderful if dear old Millie bought half-dead animals into the house – I think my patience might wane at that point! I’m glad you get some cat snuggles as compensation. (And what’s the betting that as soon as you do finally have a pet-free household you immediately go out and adopt another cat…?)

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  5. To truly understand, I recommend reading The Fur Person by May Sarton
    Remember, Dogs have owners while cats have staff!
    Thanks for stopping by one of my blogs.

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  6. Pingback: 5 blog posts I could have written. But didn’t. | Alpine Mummy

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