I hesitate to speak of cats twice in a month, lest it annoys The Boss (who doesn’t like them very much) or otherwise distracts us from the important issues of the day - such as bones, balls and scratches - that retain my interest. But some of my loyal readers (the Missus is one of them) like cats quite a lot - for reasons that simply cannot be fathomed by a dog.
I dislike them firstly because no other furred animal is permitted within my territory which, when it comes to cats, extends from the Murray River to the Yarra. And from Lake Buloke to the Winton Swamp. Roughly. And I only need one good reason.
The Boss dislikes them because they eat the wrens and robins and finches and, in the middle of spring, they hunt the visiting bee-eaters and kingfishers that burrow into the river bank to nest.
When the Boss spots a feral cat prowling along the river bank, that cat is not long for this earth. The trap will go out overnight with a prawn or fish-head in it and the cat that chooses to step inside has nothing to look forward to – after the prawn anyway.
But I digress. The reason for bringing cats up again is because they are in the news once more, with some fuss about two experimental cat drugs being studied as potential COVID-19 treatments.
For cats to triumph in this way would be a humiliation for dogs everywhere, so I naturally have mixed feelings about the development.
These drugs have apparently been used by scientists to treat feline infectious peritonitis – yet another cat dreadful disease that I omitted from the half-dozen I mentioned last month. This disease is caused by the cat-version of coronavirus and, without the drugs, it knocks them off.
The Boss nearly fell off his chair when he read in The Age this week that people pay up to $5000 for a bunch of injections to cure their cat! Then, when it's well, they let it out at night to kill birds.
A Sydney vet and academic, Professor Jacqueline Norris, said she was aware of many Australian cat owners illegally importing these drugs to treat their cats.
“I tell the people about the papers,” she said. “I tell them there is an ability to get the drug but it’s not legal.”
And Dr Andrew Spanner, who owns the Walkerville Vet Clinic in Adelaide, said the effect of these drugs on sick cats could be extraordinary.
I’m not sure I wanted to hear that.
Once the chemical formulas were published online, Chinese companies started manufacturing and selling the drugs to distressed pet owners.
“I can’t criticise pet owners,” Dr Spanner said, “because these cats mostly do very well on the treatment with minimal side effects and these are cats that would have mostly died from the disease.”
What can I say? The drugs come from the same place that gave us “the China virus,” as The Donald calls it. Then they sell us the recipe to cure it, at a handsome profit.
The Boss says I am starting to sound like a conspiracy theorist. He takes the view that, when you’re tossing up between a conspiracy and a stuff-up, go for the stuff-up. I’m on the other side, quite frankly. Cats are cool, unemotional creatures that rarely stuff up. They are built for conspiracies. And just so you know, I’m a devoted anti-vaxxer – if you had as many needles stuck into you as I have, you would be too.
Anyway, it’s a little disappointing they’ve found a way to keep cats from death’s door so reliably and it’s a high price to pay for knocking off COVID-19. On the other hand, if it costs up to $5000 to keep the pussy breathing, maybe the impoverished owners will decide to keep it inside. Woof!