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In The Company of Cats

Melody the Persian and Bambi the Scottish Fold

Having just returned from a short trip abroad and as we don’t have any kitty guests arriving for a few days I am really looking forward to today’s visits.

Melody and Bambi are my first this morning. I have been visiting Melody, a sweet and gentle six year old Persian cat, for about four years now. The last year or two have been tricky for her. Because of mounting work commitments, Melody’s owner is away a lot and to make up for this, he has been trying to find her a feline companion.

Last year the owner took the opportunity to foster Gizmo, a Sphinx rescue kitten, who was a ball of excited energy and drove Melody crazy. Melody was relieved when Gizmo, who is as playful as he is demanding, was finally and successfully rehomed.

Melody’s well meaning owner then adopted Bambi a stunning, Scottish Fold kitten, with soft white fur and enormous blue eyes. Although I am yet to meet Bambi I’m told that they are a much better match as both have similar, sweet and calm dispositions.

Melody has recently been diagnosed with keratoconjunctivitis, or dry eye, a painful and irritating condition that means she cannot produce tears. Daily eye drops help ease the pain and the hope is that they will eventually kick start her own production of tears.

I arrive at the house early, keen to meet Bambi and eager to see Melody again. When I open the door to the spacious and light living room, Melody is there to greet me. She stares up at me with a squint, her whiskers curling around her cheeks into what I imagine is a smile. I scoop up my furry friend and give her a cuddle. Bambi immediately pops her head out from behind an armchair, looks up at us, and squeals. Melody wiggles free and I crouch down to say my first hello to Bambi, who steps forward and greets me with a gentle bump of the nose.

Melody, is not quite sure how she feels about her latest companion Bambi. On the one hand she is better than the little rascal Gizmo, whom she was forced to endure for 6 months, on the other she is so darned bouncy and cute that Melody doesn’t get a look in anymore. It doesn’t help that Melody is having trouble with her eyes again and at the moment they are squeezed shut in what seems to be a permanent squint, reducing her vision and making her understandably grumpy.

It’s a far cry from Melody’s younger days when she was able to out run a balled up piece of paper, thrown at full speed into the air and catch it with an effortless leap, gathering it in her teeth and dropping it proudly at the feet of the thrower.

On a good day Melody still loves to play. But this has to be done when Bambi is not around, as at 6 months old, the pretty Scottish Fold with her clear light eyes, manages to intercept every ball, catch every treat and demand every cuddle.

Bambi, is blissfully unaware of Melody’s mounting irritation and looks up to her adopted big sister, following her around their fully automated home and learning by Melody’s example.

She drinks from the hi tech water fountain and when food rumbles out of the timed dispenser she races ahead of Melody and buries her face in the bowl. Melody can barely conceal her annoyance when attempting to take a pee, she finds that Bambi has followed her into the automated litter robot. Bambi is still too light to trigger the litter robots cleaning system but she is completely fascinated with it. When Melody hops out of the litter tray, little Bambi sits hypnotised in front of the giant cat toilet, her eyes glued to the spectacle as the huge machines starts its cleaning cycle, its trays turning and sifting until all that is left in the pan is a pile of sparkly clean litter.

While Bambi is fully occupied with the machinations of the litter tray, I take the opportunity to clean Melody’s eyes, the warm water offering her some temporary relief. Having prepared the water, cotton wool, eye drops and treats before hand, I give her fur a brush to relax her, concentrating on her cheeks and underneath her chin. Once she is purring contentedly I tip her head up slightly and very gently wash her eyes, before squeezing a drop of medicine into each one. On cue the litter tray finishes its cycle and Bambi appears at my feet and squeaks sweetly up at us.

The spell is broken and Melody twists out of my grasp and finds a quiet corner where neither myself or Bambi can follow.

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