To truly illustrate how much Ambridge loathes going to the vet, I need to go back a few months to when she stopped eating.
To be clear, Ambridge does not wish to stop eating. She is what one pet website politely terms “food-focused”, to the extent that I had to replace her automatic cat feeder with the feline equivalent of Fort Knox, sourced by H when she mastered how to burgle and eat its predecessor’s contents in five minutes flat.
I duly took her along to the vet for a check-up. Lovely Mr Irish the Irish vet was away, and there was a charming American girl and her assistant in place. I don’t know why Ambridge loathes the vet so much, but just being there turns her into the Black Assassin. She just about tolerated being weighed, but after that we had to skip the gauntlets – yes, vets have gauntlets – while she was wrapped in a “kitty burrito” (basically – take your cat and truss it in a towel leaving only the outraged head visible) to have her temperature taken.
You can only imagine the expression on her face when this indignity occurred. It was Lady Bracknell’s handbag, multiplied.
Despite being a very small cat, Ambridge managed to break free from the kitty burrito, puffed up into a cloud of fur and claws, lashed out at her health staff and went to hide behind the computer.
“You’re a sassy kitty!” the new vet said, brightly and for the umpteenth time, sassy presumably being a veterinary euphemism for “total cow”.
As she wouldn’t let the vet examine her further, Ambridge was booked in to be sedated the next day so that she could be properly examined without further risk to human life. The trainee had by this point fled the room which doesn’t bode well for dealing with anything more than a benign budgerigar. I paid up, and took the cat home, at which point she sauntered up to her food dish and started eating. That was forty five quid just so Ambridge could go and beat up some perfectly nice vets.
She had been on good form until a month or so ago, when I noticed her starting to drool a little when she was settled and purring. The cat version of Panic The Shit Out Of Yourself.com told me this could be oral problems, or her just being really comfortable.
I took her to the vet for her shots on Monday with H in tow. Despite being a little fluffed and hiding under the jumper in her basket, she behaved like a dream. Mr Irish was allowed to check her heartbeat, weigh her, inject her and look at her teeth with only a wild expression in sight. He was so surprised that he commented on it – H is clearly a good luck charm and has now doomed himself to many, many more vet visits.
Her teeth were fine on the first look, but on sweep two it turned out that she had chipped a canine. Because the root was exposed, it would have to come out.
She was taken home and starved until H took her in the next morning, a state that she complained about intensely, and at volume, until I left the house. Cats standing in the dark screaming at you are a real winter treat.
I called to checked on her at 2 and was unnerved to be put on to a vet I hadn’t met before, and one who said that my darling cat was not waking up from the anaesthetic.
A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. I am an entertainment journalist. I know very little of actual value. Dimly I remembered from Holby City, or maybe Grey’s Anatomy, that the longer you are under, the less likely you are to wake up.
It turned out that Ambridge had had to be given extra sedation due to being “fiery” and not letting anyone handle her. “Oh God Ambridge,” I thought as I proceeded to slowly weep and try not to let the vet hear. “Hoisted by your own fucktard.”
Because, honestly, I couldn’t imagine her not being in the flat. Her tiny, furious face. Her insistence on sleeping under the duvet despite being covered in furs Elizabeth Taylor would envy. Little soft nuzzles, and rather louder, determined attempts to break into foodie Fort Knox. Her love of sleeping on the radiator shelf and batting off anything, bowls, cards, whatever, that was put in her spot. And above all, her company. I adore her. I can’t imagine her not being around.
A bit too late in the conversation for my liking, the vet said that she would be fine.