Hilary Fannin: Skirmishes on the eyedrops highway with my mangy moggie
A spell of cat discipline ends in a hairball verdict
‘Get on with it,’ she hissed. Photograph: iStock
The vet wasn’t looking happy, at least as far as I could tell, given the obligatory face mask.
“You need to put the ointment in her eyes at least once a day. No excuses.”
“Okay,” I muttered.
“You said okay last time. Put in the drops. And I want to see you both back here in six weeks.”
She handed me the pet carrier. The hissing cat stared out through the grille, her eye sockets DayGlo green from the industrial-strength take-no-prisoners eye ointment the vet had just administered.
“She bites,” I said quietly.
A watchfully independent cat who sees humans simply as machines for tearing open sachets of meaty succulence, she eschews affection
The vet was a busy woman. There was an anorexic-looking greyhound hobbling around outside the surgery door, attached by a skinny lead to a woman with short grey hair and a long thin neck.
“The cat – she bites me when I try to put in the drops,” I said. “She bites and scratches and growls low and deep like a thirsty dog. She scares me.”
A small rotund man with wet eyes and surprisingly vertical eyebrows came into the waiting room to register his pooch, which he was carrying in his arms like an offering. The dog, a monkeyish terrier, appeared to have grown a bit too fond of its doggy treats.
“Name?” the receptionist asked.
“Wanda,” the man replied.
“No, I mean your name.”
The vet wanted to get back to work.
“Persistence,” she said. “You need to be persistent. She may not like the drops, but, with routine, she’ll get used to them. Once a day. Both eyes. I’ll see you in six weeks.”
Persistence, of course, and discipline and routine. I had failed, once again, to put my foot down. (In truth, the interview with the vet had been an uncomfortable reminder of long years of tense parent-teacher meetings.)
The honking sound of protestation that then filled my shell-likes was, without doubt, the carnivorous cat depositing her hairball verdict on my pillow
We’ve been down the eyedrops highway before, me and the moggie. A watchfully independent cat who sees humans simply as machines for tearing open sachets of meaty succulence, she eschews affection. My past attempts to heal her gammy orbs have seen her fight me off with the determination of a mangy lioness until I give up, sloping off to sit in a sliver of unaccustomed sun and nurse my scratched hands.
I put the cat carrier on the back seat of the car.
“Discipline,” I said to her through the confession-box lattice. “Things are about to change around here. A bit of consistency will soon sort you out, madam!”
In the days since then, I’ve been rugby-tackling her to the ground on a regular basis. I wait behind the door, the plastic bottle of eyedrops in my mitt, and pounce. It’s a nightmare. She abhors it, and hates me, the instigator of the struggle, with a feral rage.
I could sit under the kitchen table singing “What’s new, pussycat?”, my palms filled with liver-flavoured kitty treats, jellied offal coming out of my ears, and she’d still stalk off in the other direction to make little voodoo dolls with my grimacing kisser on them.
“You should have been born a dog,” I told her the other night as we both lay on the kitchen floor after a particularly vicious skirmish in the pus-eyed-pussy wars. “Your life would have been infinitely more fun.”
Bruised and panting, I lay on the rug and told her about a recent visit to a particularly nice old bar, nestled against the walls of the Phoenix Park, where I went to buy a takeaway coffee. With the bar and restaurant closed, its takeaway business is thriving. So, too, is its retail area, which offers, among many other fascinations and libations for us bipeds, a range of doggy accessories and treats.
How about raising a toast to your dribbling mutt with a sparkling bowl of Pawcetto? Or maybe, after a taxing trot around the park, your madra might fancy a chinwag over a Puppychino.
“And what’s more,” I informed the cat, who was rousing herself to slink upstairs, “the proprietors have even made provision for vegan doggies. You know, pooches with principles, curs with compassion, doggies with dogma, bow-wows with beliefs.”
“Get on with it,” she hissed.
“Well, among the delights you can purchase is a packet of 100 per cent natural dog biscuits with no artificial flavouring that contain, among a veritable garden of delights, sweet potato, oats, peanut butter and wholemeal flour, all mixed together with a magical elixir that makes us impressionable humans reach for our credit cards.”
The honking sound of protestation that then filled my shell-likes was, without doubt, the carnivorous cat depositing her hairball verdict on my pillow.