We have a couple of cats at home. Don't get the wrong idea, we're not a house of animal lovers nor are we the types who treat pets as surrogate children. Just that these two cats that have been around for a while. I'm not overly attached to them, they're okay as cats go and, as pets go, they're good things to keep.
Maintenance is low key; they need feeding and watering and that's about it. When we moved into the house I had a cat flap put in, one with a magnetically operated door that is triggered by the magnetic collar worn by each cat. I may not win any prizes from the animal conservationists but I must tell you that it makes me chuckle heartily on a few rare occasions when I've heard a loud "bang" from the vicinity of the cat flap and I've investigated to find a dazed cat standing outside, its magnetic collar either missing or broken.
So no, I'm no great animal fan, but these cats, in the words of Basement Jaxx, do their thing. They mooch around, they eat, they drink and they go out and roam and wander back in when they feel like it. Sometimes they bring a mouse or two in and that has to be dealt with, but otherwise they're trouble free.
Except when they're ill.
The other day the wife asked me to call the vet to book an appointment for Aliya, the one in the picture. This cat, that does absolutely bugger all normally apart from going for the odd stroll and being fed, was looking "out of sorts" I was told.
I made the call, not without lots of smirks on my part, just couldn't help myself really, you know me.
The conversation was going well until I had to give the cat's name, it was already registered with the vet.
"Aliya" I said, and then had to spell it.
"And the surname?" the friendly receptionist asked.
"Eh?" I replied.
"The surname" she repeated.
"Of who?" I asked.
"The cat" came the response.
"Well it doesn't really have one, it's a cat" I said, perplexed.
"What's yours then?" she was obviously more used to this conversation than I was.
"Diaspora" came my reply, although I did use my real surname, which you probably know anyway by now.
"So it's Aliya Diaspora?"
"No, it's Rhythmic Diaspora" again I did use my real name there.
"I meant the cat is called Aliya Diaspora" she said, or more snarled, at me.
"Oh right, I get it" I lied. After successfully overcoming this hurdle the rest of the call was plain sailing. I booked Aliya in and answered her question about what seemed to be wrong with it.
"It's been run over?" she said.
"No I said it looks run down"
"So you didn't actually see it happen then?"
"See what happen?" I asked, wondering what I could do to stay calm.
"The one when it got run down" she barked.
"There wasn't actually an accident, I said it looks run down, you know knackered, tired, not itself." I was deep breathing now. Not in a pervy way, just trying to keep my even temper.
"Oh okay then" she seemed disappointed at this, I assume flattened cats are more costly to fix than cat shaped ones.
The following day as I got in from work the wife was also pulling up with the twelve year old and a cage thing with Aliya inside it. They were returning from the vet's appointment.
We went into the house and I asked twelve year old what was wrong with Aliya.
"You better ask Mum" she told me, teenagerly.
"Well you won't believe this, and it cost £74 to find this out. It's got stress" she told me in rather pained tones.
"He said to give it these tablets for a couple of weeks and come back if it doesn't get any better."
I've heard it all now. A cat with stress.