Our Himalayan Cats - Redrum



Redrum is almost the perfect cat. She's loving and affectionate. She has two bad habits. The first habit she acquired from her father, who was lost to the breeders because of this bloody habit. When you call her and go to pick her up, if she's in a skittish mood, she will run away. It's her way of playing.

I've heard tales of cats like this, who run away and get scooped up by someone else. If the owners try to prove that they own the cat by calling to it and expecting it to come to them, they lose because the damn cat runs away in play.

Redrum has this same annoying habit, but we can prove conclusively that she is ours if she gets pinched. She's got an unusual combination of metal pins and supports in one hind leg, a result of an argument with a car. Her fur has grown very dark over where the metal is, after multiple operations. I'll tell the tale of Redrum's major surgery.

[Redrum in a basket]

I had been in hospital for a minor operation, and was home for a week or so, hobbling around with my groin carefully strapped up. Anne and I went out to the chemist to get some jockstraps to ensure that I was properly supported non-stop for the next six weeks. When we got back, Redrum was nowhere to be seen. By late that night, we were worried. We called her and called her and finally, she came to us. She'd been hiding behind our bed. She dragged herself out by her front paws, and came crawling to us, hind legs splayed out behind her. It was a heart-rending sight. We bundled her up and set off for the vets, me walking very, very carefully.

We left her at the vets so they could stabilise her, then x-ray her. Next day while Anne was at work and I was dutifully supporting my groin, the vet rang with the bad news. She had a bad break of the hind leg. Broken in two places. She needed pins and metal supports inside the leg. And that meant two operations, one to get all the stuff in, and another to get the supports out. It would cost about $700. What did I want to do? That was a lot of money to us then. It still is now, but it was a lot more then, when we had a new mortgage and money was still tight. What could I do? I told them to operate.

She came home a few days later, and she was pretty sick. Didn't move much, didn't eat much at first. But she perked up a bit, particularly as I was there to keep her company. We did a fair bit of bonding, being together all day, both of us injured and not feeling our best. Then she went back to get the metal supports out. When she came back from this operation, she was pretty crook. Stopped eating. Wanted to die. She'd given up. So we force fed her. Every morning she'd have syringe-fulls of milk forced down, and every night she'd get bits of kangaroo forced down her throat. After three or four days, she decided that she was going to get better and that she may as well look after herself instead of being force-fed. So she started to eat again, and she got back her zest for life, her joie de vivre. Until she was frisking with Ruffian, who took a swipe at her, and instead of Ruffian's paw and claws being deflected by the usual thick mass of fur, one claw got stuck into flesh where Redrum had been shaved, the claw tore out and stayed embedded in Redrum's side. Two crook cats. Ruffian wailing about her missing claw, Redrum with a bloody great abscess. Off to the vet again, more money, more dispirited and sick cats. We were really glad when she finally completely healed up.

That injury of Redrum's stopped the incidence of white furry possums. Anne and I were coming home late on night, and as we turned the corner, the headlights of the car caught two furry white possums rushing up a tree. By the time we got home, they had climbed down, and rushed home in order to greet us by the time we got out of the car. It was such a funny sight, but we were really glad when the injury cured them of such bad habits.

Redrum has gone through the name changes and nicknames too. Redrum, Reddy, Buddha, Buddi. She got called Buddha because when she was younger, she would prop herself up on a chair, curl over and lick her belly. She had a little pot-belly, and she looked like a little furry Buddha contemplating her navel.

Redrum has got the full vocal range of a Siamese cat, and a bit more. Have you ever heard Siamese in full cry? Horrible. I owned a female Siamese once, in the days when I was younger and a bit sentimental, and I didn't get her de-sexed. She came on heat and she demanded sex. She wailed and howled and wailed and solicited and nearly drove me insane. I had her de-sexed before she came on heat again. It was loud and raucous. I can't describe how bad it was. While she was on heat, I fortuitously made a tape recording of the noise. I probably did this to demonstrate how bad it was. Anyway, many years later I was doing a lot of radio work at 4TTT, the community radio station in Townsville and I found this tape. So one night, I played the tape on air at reduced volume behind the normal music and announcing. The cats of Townsville went into a frenzy, I've been told. Humans could barely hear it, but the toms were all over the radios and speakers, sniffing and rubbing themselves against things, and trying to get at the hot bitch inside the devices who was absolutely demanding sex.

Take my word for it, a Siamese is a loud cat. Redrum is loud and very vocal. She can practically talk. When she's hungry she will demand food and she will continue demanding while I run into the kitchen and drag out the remains of Skippy and throw them in front of her. It's not a conscious decision to feed the cat. It's an instinctive reaction to do anything to shut the noise up. When she's happy, she purrs. You can hear the purr across a room. When she's not happy, she lets you know it too. But late at night when I'm sitting at the computer typing away, and she's lying on the chair beside me, she'll talk to me. She doesn't want anything, she just wants to burble at me. And she talks with range and inflection, almost sentences. I have no idea what she's saying, but you can tell she's happy, and I'm very grateful she's not hungry and ready to start demanding things.

[Redrum being hugged to death]

She does have one habit that I hate. In the mornings, at about 6:00am, she wants to go outside. She'll leap up onto the bed and walk over and sit beside my face. She purrs really loudly, and looks lovingly into my catatonic face. With great love and devotion, she'll reach out with one great paddy-paw, stick out the claws and gently stick them into my cheek. Usually this is not quite enough to wake me. She leans forward, rumbling happily, looking lovingly into my face, and then sticks her claws into my cheek again. She repeats this until I leap from the bed screaming at her, rush over to the door, rip it open and try and kick her as she rushes outside. She doesn't draw blood, just lightly sticks her needles into my face until I wake up. You can imagine the dreams I am having. There I am, dreaming about winning the lottery, or maintaining a harem, and then things start to go sour in the dream. It usually ends with me meeting Hannibal Lector who does unmentionable things with my face, until I wake up and realise that my face is being attacked. I still can't get used to it.

What worries me most is the loving look she has on her face when she does it, and the loud purr. I keep thinking about the cat raised from the dead in Stephen King's Pet Semetary (the book, not the film).

Redrum has some funny habits. One of them is the way she relaxes. When she's feeling really safe, she will lie on her back, fold her front legs across her chest and let her back legs splay out. She usually does this on the flotaki rug, which is a large white rug made of sheepskin. When she does this, she tends to blend in with the colouring and we've had visitors not notice her and step on her. [Redrum on the flotaki rug]

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