It was a scary situation at Chez MIA yesterday, when Zsa Zsa the Toy Poodle alerted me, by barking frantically, that Russy the big gentle pussy cat, was unwell.
Russy is a gentle giant of a kitty, who came with the house we're renting.
He's been ours for almost a year now, and just like Zsa Zsa, we love him like he's one of our own furry babies.
Lucky the kids were with their Dad, because when I saw Russy's shaking face, and darting unfocussed eyes, I knew instantly he was not okay. His back legs were down, and when he tried to walk towards me he collapsed.
It was terrifying enough for me to see Russ like this, that I knew the kids would be really traumatised had they been here.
All I could think of was that the cat had been poisoned or bitten by a spider or a snake. We live near a forest, and we'd had no less than five skinks in the house in a couple of days so it was a distinct possibility.
I dropped everything, popped Russy in his cage, and took him straight to the vet.
The vet was great, and took Russy ahead of the queue instantly. No one in the waiting room minded.
Russy was fast deteriorating and was kind of fitting in my arms. I thought he might bite or scratch in his distress, as the vet drew urine and took temperatures, and shaved bits where Russ thought he might be injured or bitten. But Russy just kind of moved into me, as if for protection. I had never loved him more.
Russy spent last night at the vet's hospital on a drip and on valium to calm his nerves, while more tests were done, and this morning the vet revealed the results: Snake bite.
He'd suspected as much the day before when shaving had revealed a suspicious puncture wound near Russ's face. But clearly the snake hadn't gotten a good grip of Russ, and it looks like our big pussy will be okay.
I hope so.
His real owners had warned us that Russy was an outside cat, who probably wouldn't spend much time with us once we moved in.
Indeed, he spent most of the first week or two staring at us balefully from his favourite spot near the outside pond.
He'd come in at night through the cat door, and eat his special, expensive cat biscuits, then disappear again, like a thief in the night.
But gradually, he'd come when called for a cuddle, or his favourite, a combing and brushing session.
Then he started letting Harmonie pick him up and lug him upstairs and into the house at meal times. And he'd stay here, joining us on the couch for petting and purring.
One night, he terrified me - and Zsa Zsa - by jumping on me in the middle of the night. He only meant to join me in bed! He still occasionally sleeps with me, usually only on a really cold night when the kids aren't here. They are his preferred sleeping partners of choice.
And then he started bonding with Mr 10. I'd often find the pair curled up in bed together, Russy sprawled on his back in ecstasy as Chase patiently rubbed his belly. Or sleeping side by side, Russy sharing Chase's pillow.
Even when C. was staying with his Dad, Russy would go to his room looking for him, and then settling down on his favourite spot to sleep.
When I came home last night, it felt strange not to have Russy waiting at the top of the driveway and then walking down to greet me as he always does. And when I leave today, it will be weird not to have him walk to the car with me, to see me off.
I knew I'd have to say goodbye to Russy - and to Zsa Zsa eventually - but I never thought it would be quite so soon.
So I really hope that the furry angels are looking down on Russ and will bring him home safe to us.
Our sweet Russy...
In the meantime, here's an ad that reminds me of how Russ would be if he was human. Erm, a cartoon. Well, you know what I mean. He's a big ginger kitty, and he's charming, just like Puss In Boots.
It's a parady of the infamous Old Spice ad, and I could really use a laugh right now!
Readers, has a pet ever touched your heart?