The Dramatic Tale of Miss Tuffy-Cat

Perhaps you recall that my Cape Town hosts share their home with an affectionate tortoiseshell cat named Tuffy – and known as Miss Tuffy-Cat on formal occasions.

The Cat and I have become good friends in the last weeks since she first welcomed me to her home, and she sometimes even sleeps on my bed.

Last week, there was quite a bit of drama, because the Cat was taken to the V-E-T (apparently, this is not a word I may say out loud, in case it distresses her) for some bloodtests and x-rays to identify the source of various health problems. She seems to have lost a bit of weight, as well as lacking muscle tone in her hind legs, so she no longer feels inclined to jump up onto things. And she’s been drinking a lot of water lately, which I have noticed in particular, because her tap and her water dish are right outside my garden flat, and she frequently demands that Reggie re-fill her water dish with fresh water.

When Miss Tuffy-Cat returned home after a couple of hours at the Clinic, the poor dear was still sedated, and all unsteady on her feet. She collapsed in a little heap in her favourite sunny spot by the side of the pool, and heaved a big sigh, before telling me her sad tale.

I can't believe I'm up on this tree!
I can’t believe I’m up in this tree! This is totally wild!

“Oh, Miss Flat Kathy,” she gazed at me with her eyes all big and sorrowful. “It was terrible. Reggie and her mom forced me into my carry-cage, and then drove around with me for hours, until we reached the clinic. I was feeling quite ill and anxious by that time. Then – can you believe it! – they left me there! Usually, we’re in and out in 5 to 10 minutes, which is about all I can bear. But they left! WITHOUT ME! I tell you, I was so upset. I thought they had abandoned me.”

“Oh no, Miss Tuffy-Cat,” I interjected, trying to comfort her. “They wouldn’t do that. They – we – love you too much.”

She sniffed one of her paws, and gave it a sleepy lick.

“Do go on,” I urged her gently.

“I feel sooo drained, Miss Flat Kathy,” she said, yawning. “They imprisoned me in a small cage, and poked and prodded me for hours. That scary woman vet even shaved off a tuft of fur on my neck! Look! I have a bald patch now!”

She arched her neck so that I could see the bald patch. Oh dear, you could almost see the skin underneath it. I tell you, I felt soo sorry for her.

I wonder how high up I can go?
I wonder how high up I can go?

“Your fur will grow back, Miss Tuffy-Cat, don’t you worry,” I tried to comfort her.

“And then they stuck me with a needle – this huuuuuge syringe! I don’t know how much blood they took, but it must have been a lot, because I feel soo weak now. They also gave me a sedative, so that I couldn’t even claw them!”

She stretched her paws out in front of her, flexing and retracting her fearsome claws. I instinctively took a step back – those were sharp weapons!

“And just when I thought that all the humiliation was over, they rolled me onto my tummy and stretched my legs back. The woman vet said she wanted to take some x-rays, because they were worried that I might have a problem with my spine or my hindlegs, because I haven’t been jumping so well lately,” she remarked, tentatively stretching out one of her hindlegs and wincing slightly.

Now where does this branch go again? Didn't it lead up onto the roof before?
Now where does this branch go again? Didn’t it lead up onto the roof before?

“In the end,” she confessed, “I just fainted… It was all too much.”

“Oh, you poor dear thing,” I said, wishing I could give her a tummy rub to make her feel better.

“I tell you,” she continued, “I was sooo relieved when I heard Reggie’s voice! My family had come back to rescue me!” She sat up for a moment, and beamed brightly at me. “Ohh, Miss Flat Kathy, it feels sooo good to be home again. I am going to have a bit of a nap now, if you don’t mind.”

So that was a couple of days ago.

Reggie told me that the V-E-T had diagnosed a hyperactive thyroid gland, which – among other things – makes the Cat a bit cranky and twitchy. (I had noticed that…, but of course, I didn’t say so to Miss Tuffy-Cat. She’s a little sensitive at the moment, as you can imagine.)

As a result, they now have to medicate her twice a day – with a tablet cunningly disguised in fishpaste. Although this has worked quite well for a couple of days, the Cat has suddenly realised what is going on, after accidentally biting on a tablet. Oh dear…

Climbing is sooo much fun! I can't believe I haven't done this for over a year!
Climbing is sooo much fun! I can’t believe I haven’t done this for over a year!

Last night, despite some drama with a tablet that she kept spitting out after cleverly licking off all the surrounding fishpaste, she surprised all of us with a display of energy and excitement that – judging from the delighted responses of my hosts – they hadn’t seen in years.

We were all out in the back garden, and Reggie was taking a photograph of me next to the second strawberry, when Miss Tuffy-Cat gallopped past, faster than I’d ever seen her move.

“What on earth?” demanded Reggie, following her around the corner. “Was that Tuffy?!”

“Yes!” laughed Richard, “it was! She’s in a playful mood!”

He ran after her, and pretended to chase her. Usually, she just gives them a funny look when they do this, before sitting down to groom herself in a very leisurely, disinterested manner. Last night, however, she behaved like a young kitten! Flattening her ears, her tail straight up in the air, she sprinted away from Richard.

And with an astonishing burst of speed, she ascended the large Rhus tree!

Er... oops... how am I going to get down?
Er… oops… how am I going to get down?

“Oh my gosh!” shouted Reggie, “look at her! She hasn’t been up that tree in over a year!”

In fact, she’d become increasingly reluctant to jump or climb onto anything, and as a result, there are extra pillows and boxes scattered around the house as additional ‘steps’, so that she doesn’t have to jump quite so high.

Once up in the tree, Miss Tuffy-Cat was so excited that she didn’t know what to do first. So she went exploring, climbing up and down the big limbs of the tree, squeezing through small gaps, rubbing her face against twigs, and looking immensely pleased with herself.

Oh, my dear friends, I felt like joining her up in that tree, but Reggie was concerned that I might fall off, because I don’t have claws like the Cat. I wish I did – it looked like such fun!!

The utterly adorable Miss Big Eyes Look
The utterly adorable Miss Big Eyes Look

12 thoughts on “The Dramatic Tale of Miss Tuffy-Cat

  1. What a sweet kitty Miss Tuffy-Cat is, with her bright orange patches! I’m glad to hear she is feeling so much better now and that you had a chance to lend a sympathetic ear concerning her ordeal.


    1. I shall pass on your kind wishes to Miss Tuffy-Cat, Barbara. She clearly needs much affection at the moment, to help her get over her ordeal.

      We are a bit worried about how to medicate her, now that the fish paste has lost a bit of its appeal (because she now suspects there’s always something horrible hidden inside it). So if you have any advice, please drop me a line, and I shall pass it on to my hosts.


  2. Dear F.K., Please tell Reggie and Richard that must MAKE that cat takes her meds. She is so much better with them that it worth even FORCING it down her throat. Cats forgive quite quickly. Perhaps the V E T can show them how to do this. Also, here in Canada there is a kind of soft cat treat sold called “Pill pockets”. That might be worth a try.

    It’s nice that you were there to commiserate with Miss T-C.


    1. “Cats” may forgive quite quickly, but I think “The Cat” doesn’t. Oh dear…. we had a bit of drama this morning again, where she was very reluctant to take the little ball of fish paste. It makes one quite anxious.

      Your “pill pockets” sound like a brilliant idea, Sybil. I don’t think they’ve arrived in Cape Town, though – perhaps this is a market gap that could be explored?


    1. I have passed on your very sweet and affectionate wishes to Miss Tuffy-Cat. She says it is most kind of you and that you are clearly a most thoughtful dog of superior intelligence and wisdom.


  3. Get well soon Miss Tuffy – Chocolat and I are thinking of you. And as for Miss Reggie and the on-going camouflage of daily t-a-b-l-e-t-s, well, Bon Voyage with that one …. much sympathy. Been there, done that. The Canadian Pill Pockets sound marvellous, but pretty sure not avaiulable in SA. Try pressing the tab into a knob of butter – its a tasty treat and slips down well.


    1. A knob of butter, eh? Do you then force-feed Chocolat with it, or does kitty voluntarily take it from your fingers? I might just try that, Alison. Thank you for the tip.

      I gather that Chocolat does not require long-term medication? Usually, when we need to give Tuffy-Cat her worm tablets, we actually take her down to the V-E-T and let him do it. She has already formed an unfavourable opinion of him, and we’re not that keen to get into her bad books. 😉


    2. I am sorry to tell you that the fishpaste has lost its appeal entirely, Alison.

      Things got a bit ugly last night… the Cat was clearly traumatised by the whole ‘hold her firmly in a towel’ business, and my hosts were almost in tears with frustration at the Cat’s ability to clench her teeth together as tightly as though she had lockjaw.

      None of us slept easily last night. :-{


    1. Thank you, Amy-Lynn. We’re still struggling along valiantly with wrapping the tiny pill in a small ball of fishpaste. It takes a looooot of patience and gentle persuasion, because Tuffy-Cat seems to have realised what’s going on. (I think she might have been reading the blog over Flat Kathy’s shoulder, when F.K. was replying to all the comments… :()

      They don’t sell pill pockets in South Africa, but I think we’ll investigate making our own with different ingredients. We don’t know what things she likes as treats, because the vet has always been very strict about only giving her the hard kibbles of Hills. So I don’t know if she likes butter, or cheese, or liverwurst… she loves tuna (the human kind, only, not the pet food kind), and a bit of chicken (again, only the human version), and recently discovered she loves salmon too (yes, the expensive Norwegian smoked salmon, of course… ;-)). But unless I can make it into a kind of paste, to wrap around the tablet, it’s not useful for pilling purposes! So blending it with a bit of rice flour and some olive oil might do the trick, eh?


    2. This is so helpful, Amy-Lynn. I’ve been having to counsel and reassure Miss Tuffy-Cat every morning and every evening, after her pill-popping sessions. Luckily, we get on very well.

      I keep trying to explain that it’s for her own good, and that her owners are just as distressed about the pill-popping as she is. I do hope I am getting through to her, the poor dear.


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