No, I haven’t gone mad. I’m not preparing for Halloween already, and there isn’t an issue with the ‘R’ on my keyboard.
This is about cats. Yes, cats.
I have two of the little fluff-balls (pictured above) and I love them immensely. They don’t cause too much trouble, they behave way better than the kids, and they constantly shower us with love, hair and cat drool.
But a couple of weeks ago, I noticed something in Coco’s fur on the side of her neck. This isn’t unusual, as Coco often comes home covered in plant burrs (or sticky willies as we used to call them). She’s our hunter, our wandered, a typical cat; often bringing home an array of mice, voles and birds with varying degrees of mutilation…so I didn’t really think too much about it. But for some reason it played on my mind a little, and after a few days I did what we all do when there’s something bothering us that we don’t understand. I Googled it. And then I kind of wish I hadn’t.
I hadn’t really given much thought to the hideous little blood-suckers that hitch a ride on our poor, unsuspecting pets, causing disease and illness. But there it was – the picture on my phone of the hard, seed-like ball looked exactly like the thing I’d seen on Coco. A bloody tick.
Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to hold a cat down against their will, but it’s kind of like fighting with a wriggling, furry bag of knives. However, I finally managed to find the place where the disgusting lump had been, and to my absolute horror, the bloody thing had gone! At this point, two major concerns were swirling around in my brain. One, my poor little Coco had been walking around with a potentially disease-ridden beastie attached to her, and two, where the f**k was it now!!!
Thankfully, the vet didn’t seem too bothered as we keep the cats up-to-date with their flea, tick and worming vaccines. But me? Well, I spent the day cleaning floors, stripping beds and hoovering the mattresses; there was no way that disgusting little bugger was getting it’s jaws into any more members of my family.
And so yesterday, I find myself sitting on the sofa, having a nice cup of tea before it’s time to collect the kids from school. Button’s lying next to me, stretched out on the grey rug, legs akimbo waiting for her favourite belly rub. But wait…what the…? What the hell is that on her tummy?
Oh shit. There’s a wee lump! It’s not hard, but it’s not squishy either. Oh. My. Fecking. God. I push aside her mountain of fur and manage to take a photo of the offending lump.
Quickly, I send the picture to our vet on their Facebook page, telling them that it’s very red around the area and that there are, what seem to be, ‘legs’ sticking out around the ‘tick-like’ pimple.
Within minutes, they replied. “Have you tried cleaning it with warm water?”
Eh, no… hold on.
Again, this furry bag of knives did everything it could to prevent my rescue mission, but following a frantic wash with warm water and cotton wool, eventually the redness disappeared. As did the ‘legs’. All that was left was a tiny, white lump. On her tummy. Pretty much perpendicular and perfectly symmetrical with the other ‘lumps’ on her tummy.
The ticks weren’t ticks. They were bloody nipples!
Yeah, yeah, I know what you’re thinking; “what a tit!” (no pun intended), but I genuinely couldn’t tell! And I’m not alone. There are loads of threads on pet forums where people have actually tried to pull the tick-nipple off with tweezers!! Now that brings a tear to your eye.
Anyway, my point is that until this happened, I hadn’t really thought about ticks and the problems they can cause for animals. Again, good old Google provided me with a plethora of different sites, some helpful, some not so!
So, make sure you keep your pets vaccinated, and try not to mistake a tick for a teat…!