Promoting understanding
and compassion for animals

Oct

24

A little girl and her cat

Posted in: Di's diary2 Comments

Oggie our cat, was eight years old when I brought Alana home. He sort of rolled his eyes at me as if to say “not another one”.  He was right – Kelsea, Kyle and now Alana – all born within four and a half years of each other. Even I was astounded. I had never really been that child oriented. Babies cried their lungs out when they were handed to me and I always swiftly handed them back. I would goo and gah over a puppy or kitten but kept my distance from the human variety. When Kelsea was born I had never changed a nappy or dressed or bathed a baby but I soon discovered that they weren’t that different to raising animal babies (and I had had plenty of experience with that).  As long as you fed them, kept them clean, made sure they weren’t too hot or cold and didn’t excite them too much, everything was pretty cool. I also discovered early on that babies pick up on your moods so staying calm was essential. The only problem with Kelsea was, that when she was awake, you could not put her down – she had to be carried everywhere. But I soon adjusted to that – I mean why else do we have two arms? I remember going to the Mount Tomah Botanical Gardens one day for lunch when she was about eight weeks old and the young guy in the restaurant asked me whether I wanted a highchair and a children’s menu. I was wrapt and thought “Wow this guy knows even less about babies than I do”.

So anyway back to the story… Oggie was not impressed. That is not to say that Kelsea and Kyle had ever been rough with him. When I first had children I decided two things would be my priorities – good manners…  and kindness to all living things. I always cringe when people let their children be rough and cruel to animals because I KNOW that it does not have to be normal behaviour. All of my children have been taught to respect animals from a very young age. When Kelsea was 18 months old, my beloved dog Dylan had major surgery to remove mast cell tumours. He came home very sore and sorry with 80 stitches. I made a bed for him up beside one of the lounges, so that he was away from Kelsea but within half an hour of bringing him home I knew I had nothing to worry about. She was so gentle and concerned about him, probably as much as I was and she fussed over him. And she wasn’t even two years old!

Anyway I digress again. Oggie, I think was more concerned with the fact that he was going to be shut out of my bedroom yet again but I knew he’d cope and it would only be for a short time. Little did he or I realise that this little person was going to grow to be his greatest fan, his staunchest ally and his co-conspirator. By the age of two Alana had adopted Oggie. She fussed over him, defended him and lavished him with love and attention. Oggie had always believed that he was a superior being but now he was completely unbearable. I gave up trying to discipline him and he pretty much did as he pleased which suited him just fine. (Anyone who has lived with a ginger cat will know what I am talking about). He and Alana developed a very close bond which exists to this day. By three she was calling him “my little darling”. Everything went along very smoothly until Alana was four. Oggie and Brodie had always been inside cats and I had made an outdoor run for them which is connected to our lounge-room window with a ladder. But as the children got older, it became harder to make sure that all the doors were shut and the cats didn’t get out. They both started escaping and although I was worried at first, they were not youngsters. Both cats were eleven and were just content to go and curl up in the sun for the day and come in at night for their dinner. Occasionally Oggie would climb a tree which always made me feel good that he was experiencing one of the joys of nature which he would not get in his run.

Oggie relaxing

Oggie relaxing

 This went on for a few months and then one terrible day Oggie did not return home. We called and called and I went to bed with a heavy heart. I had already scoured the roadside and found no trace of him. The next day we searched again and then the next and the next. We rang the pound, the local vets and we put up posters. I couldn’t believe that one of the greatest characters I had ever met had gone and my heart bled thinking about what had happened to him. It also the dead of winter with temperatures falling to minus 3 & minus 4 most nights. I remember standing outside in the bitter cold at night straining, trying to hear his call and sometime imagining I could. We continued searching every inch of the property and neighbouring properties, half expecting to see a golden body, crumpled and crushed lying in the grass and at the same time willing ourselves not to. Every night Alana cried herself to sleep saying “I just want my Oggie to come home”. On the tenth day I finally gave up hope and did one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I told her that he had gone to the angel place and was now at peace. She cried and cried and told me that he hadn’t, that he was still alive. I wondered how the hell I was going to cope with this situation – there are no books or advice to help you with things like this.

I made arrangements with a friend of mine who lives at Tea Gardens to go and stay for a few days to help us cope with our loss and had everything packed and ready to go. We went up early in the morning to feed the other animals and then walked back to the house despondently,  in single file but as I entered the back gate and rounded the corner, the most amazing sight awaited me.  Oggie sitting on the back door step!  I did a double take and literally had to rub my eyes to believe what I was seeing. I ran back to Alana and told her there was a surprise waiting for her. Her melancholic step quickened and she before long she started running. Within a moment Oggie had four people all standing around him crying with joy and we carefully carried him inside. After ten days he had come home. He was skinny and dehydrated, had a gash on his forehead and one limb dangled uselessly but he was alive. We abandoned our holiday and rushed him to the vet where he stayed for a few days. He was placed on a drip and treated with antibiotics and luckily his leg was not broken although he had severe muscular damage which took many months to heal. 

The vet surmised that he had been chased by a dog or a fox and got trapped up a tree possibly by his leg. Ironically the freezing cold that haunted me each night actually saved his life as it prevented blood loss and dehydration.  It took a long time and much spoiling to get Oggie back to his former glory but with such a dedicated carer it was little wonder that he recovered. Oggie and Alana’s bond is stronger than ever and I swear that he survived and came back to us only because he heard, on a subconscious level, her heartfelt cries of distress.

Alana is now five and has recently been very sick with an ear infection which would not respond to antibiotics. Then she came down with Glandular Fever and then, when she started to recover from that, developed Bells Palsy – a type of facial paralysis. A CT scan showed that the ear infection had not cleared and had moved into her mastoids which meant more antibiotics and surgery to insert grommits into her ears to try to remove the fluids which the specialist thought may have been compressing her facial nerve. Now two weeks after the surgery her palsy is much improved and she is well again and back to her crazy, zany self, One thing that has been a constant through her month long illness and I’m sure has helped her recovery (just as she helped his only a year ago) is Oggie – he never left her side.

Alana and Oggie when she came home from hospital

Alana and Oggie when she came home from hospital

Alana recently renamed Oggie. She now calls him ‘The King’. I tongue-in-cheek call him ‘Elvis’, although she doesn’t understand why.

So next time you give up hope, think of Oggie and remember that sometimes (and only sometimes) miracles do happen. And remember that the greatest gift we can give our children is not the latest toy or gadget but something that will truly love and cherish them as much as we do. Living with animals and receiving the correct guidance from their guardian, can awaken the most amazing tenderness in a child, a tenderness that will shape the person they become. A kind and compassionate soul that has a much needed place in this mixed up world of ours.

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  1. Margi Thurgood said on 26/10/2011 at 10:54 pm

    Oggie arrived with a purpose and is one of the smartest and confident living creatures I have ever known. I love you Oggie and I wish you were my cat but Alana needs you more. How lucky I am to know you and visit you.
    Margi

  2. Glennys Lawton said on 16/03/2015 at 4:51 am

    Hello Diana
    I’m so sorry about Oggie – he clearly was so loved. I wonder if I can ask you about Dylan. My darling Curly Coated Retriever Winnie has recently had major surgery for Mast Cell Tumour. Tests show there are still cells in the underlying tissues and we are very undecided about chemo. I wonder if you would share with me what your experience with Dylan was?
    Sincerely, Glennys Lawton

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