Mr Fidget bounded into the bedroom first thing yesterday morning with Mr Fluffy, but looked slightly uncertain about his lunch, then spent all afternoon asleep, which is not like him. He ate his share of supper, but later in the evening he was slightly sick, and he wouldn't eat any of their second, late supper at all, and showed no interest in licking out the ice cream tub. This morning he met me at the top of the stairs as I got up, but after that he retreated to his favourite spot on the pouffe and didn't want any breakfast. I offered him some water, but he didn't want that either, and when I stroked him he didn't purr. It might have been my imagination, but he felt rather hot.
When it comes to human ailments we will both run with a temperature for several days before going to the doctor. As long as somebody in previously normal health is still able to hold a lucid conversation then colds and flu count as self limiting illnesses. But how do you tell if a cat is lucid? Mr Fidget will be eight months old tomorrow, still very young, and he has never been ill before. We decided to book him in to the vet, telling each other that if we didn't we would only spend the day worrying about him.
As soon as the car began to move Mr Fidget began to wail in his basket and scrabbled at the wire, only stopping each time we reached stationary traffic. He has done that on every car trip he has ever taken with us, coming home from the rescue centre and on previous trips to the vet. If we ever find ourselves moving to the other end of the country with him he will have to be sedated. Not a good passenger, Mr Fidget. He was quite composed once we got to the vet, which was just as well because there were a lot of dogs in the waiting room. Mr Fidget when well has an optimistically belligerent attitude to dogs. He attempted to chase one of the Airedales when it came into the garden, arching his back and jumping sideways on all four legs, until it ruined the effect by chasing him.
A hard core of the other patients did not seem to be going anywhere. There was an amiable Rottweiler whose owner said she had fleas and whose hair was coming out all over the floor, and a cat called Sophie accompanied by a little girl wearing a Halloween costume, and a pug who snuffled and barked. The little girl stuck a finger into Mr Fidget's basket and complained when he didn't respond that he didn't like her. I explained that he wasn't feeling well, and she wouldn't like it if she was ill and someone she didn't know came and stared at her, and she went away to play with the Rottweiler instead. A large rabbit and a small black dog with a seriously tubby body atop four incongruously spindly legs joined the queue. Quarter of an hour late turned to forty minutes, and the Rottweiler owner went to ask at the desk how much longer it was going to be because he had to get back to work.
Eventually a weeping girl appeared with a small empty pet carrier and two sombre grownups, and we concluded that things had gone badly wrong for someone's pet. The queue began to move, until another girl appeared wearing a veterinary practice polo shirt and called Mr Fidget's name. I realised this was our vet for the day. Jenny Eclair last night was talking about her child GP, the one who diagnosed her tiredness as a bad case of lazycowitis and prescribed cardiac exercise three times a week. Mr Fidget was due to see the child vet. This is of course unfair to vets and to all qualified people under the age of thirty-five. You need better A levels and a more impressive CV to train as a vet than a GP. She was very nice, and asked about Mr Fidget's symptoms, and assured us that it was better to have him checked out than not, before feeling his abdomen, listening to his heart, and sticking a thermometer up his bottom. Mr Fidget did not like that last procedure.
He had a temperature. Quite a high temperature for a cat, and she gave him an injection containing a painkiller and an anti-inflammatory, and told us to bring him back in thirty-six to forty-eight hours so that she could see how he was doing once the drugs had worn off. He might be better by then, or if not she would start doing blood tests and further investigations. She thought it was a virus, which is what GPs always used to say when I was younger if you were off colour but not at death's door and with no other obvious symptoms, and which I always assumed meant they didn't know what it was yet. She meant she didn't want to prescribe antibiotics at this stage.
Pumped up with the vet's drugs Mr Fidget wanted some lunch, which was a relief. Even if he didn't want anything else later when the jab wore off then at least he'd have had something. We reinstated the litter tray so that he wouldn't have to go outside, locked him in when he did look as though he wanted to go out, and he settled down to spend the afternoon on his pouffe. Then he decided he wanted some supper, and now he has snuck out after all. I'm not sure we should have left him, as I feel he should be resting, but it is very difficult to make a cat rest when it doesn't want to.