Wednesday, 24 October 2007

The gift of a purr

For most cat owners, purring is a lovely sound which to an extent they take for granted. It shows that their cat is happy and contented, revelling in the love and warmth with which he is surrounded. But for some cats, purring is a long way down the list of the things they are able to do.

Take Marmalade, for example. She was found laying in a gutter, close to death - badly dehydrated and with the beginnings of cat flu. Not far away, an adult cat with similar colouring, was found dead, believed run over. We think this was her mum. Marmalade was brought into our small shelter, a tiny wretch who voraciously ate a spoonful of food and then settled down for a weary sleep. The stream of foul smelling diarrhoea trickling unnoticed from her prompted us to get her to the vets as quickly as we could.

The prognosis was poor. Dehydration, diarrhoea, cat flu, skeletally thin, poor appetite not to mention the usual hangers-on - fleas and worms. Back at our centre, Marmalade was placed on a heated pad, and next to a heat source, and was fed several small liquid meals through the night. The vet was very pessimistic about her chances of survival, and frankly we couldn't have agreed more. The next few hours saw her clinging onto her life, and a second visit to the vet brought the news that she was slightly better, but still not out of the woods. Because of her constant diarrhoea, her tail and back legs were covered in faeces, but we were unable to bathe her because of the risk of her catching a chill on top of everything else. She stunk to high heaven!

That night, as her smelly dirty little body was being cuddled, wrapped in a blanket to keep her warm, we noticed a strange noise! At first we thought she was choking, but no, this feisty-spirited little lady was telling us, in her own way, that she was with us all the way in her fight for survival. A little rusty purr, probably not used for at least a few days, and interspersed by a coughing or sneezing fit every few seconds, was her gift to us and her way of letting us know she was going to grab every chance to survive this.

Ten days on, Marmalade is still making slow but steady progress, she has been bathed and she smells better, and her appetite is improving. Most importantly her purr-song is still gorgeous.