In a long-forgotten time, somewhere around my childhood and quite possibly the twilight of traditional tea-time, the rules were simple: tea was drunk from a cup, on a saucer, whilst vulgar mugs were for coffee and cocoa. Of course, back then, tea was also drunk with milk and sugar until I egregiously broke with tradition and stopped using sugar. I think I was about eight, or nine, so a bit of a revolutionary when I was younger.
Sacred tea-time was dealt another blow when I went to university and I stopped putting milk in my tea. That wasn’t so much revolutionary as the end of civilisation as we know it, and it stained my mother’s tea cups. At some point, when visiting my parents, my mother took to putting my tea in a mug, probably one with a dark glaze that didn’t show the tannin stains.
In spite of the demise of traditional tea-time, and those cup/mug rules, we do still have tea-cups around the house, somewhere, and I’m sure I could find one if I went looking. They hide, you see, lurking at the back or in dark corners of the cupboards, probably forming self-help groups where fine china can grumble about how much better it was in the good old days. What we definitely do have is saucers. Lots and lots of saucers, although we could do with a few more, because sauces are useful. Tea cups have been supplanted by the more aggressive mug species, but their long-suffering support act, the saucer, has found new niches in the domestic eco-system. However, the saucer is also becoming rare.
In the time between the twilight of tea-time and now, there was a decade or two where saucers were easy to come by – church jumble sales and charity shops always had stacks of random crockery, and saucers could be re-homed in significant numbers, whilst angry cabals of tea-cups grumbled in boxes out of sight, bitter that they couldn’t even claim to have been left on the shelf.
That has all changed – the jumble sale has become the car-boot sale and charity shops have gone upmarket (at least around here) and only nice crockery is to be found. Saucers are not allowed out without their cups, and even then only in matching sets offering safety in numbers and the possibility of swaggering all the way to the dishwasher.
No matter, we still have a supply, although every attempt to establish a breeding program for saucers in captivity has failed. For now, we have saucers to stand plant pots on, to put cat treats on, to test jam for setting, to… well, saucers are just useful, and we really could do with more, especially at present, when every spare saucer is needed for Oatmeal.
That’s three kilos of furry feline called Oatmeal, not the stuff for making porridge. A year ago, Oatmeal was nearer to seven kilos of fluff, but in March this year he was diagnosed with a serious bowel problem which has been managed with high doses of steroid, which he will happily take with three grams of cream, twice a day, on a saucer.
Start counting – that’s two saucers, per day.
Then there’s the cat biscuits, delivered wherever he is currently sleeping – in the house would be ideal, but Oatmeal has made it clear that outside is his preference. Currently, that is under a fuchsia bush, whilst a week or two back, he was under a fern on the edge of the lawn. Wherever he chooses, the location is highlighted by the technicolour array of our recycling bags arranged and rigged to keep the rain off him. So, add another saucer, per day, with a few slugs on the underside.
In the last month, Oatmeal has clearly been struggling and, not to put too finer point on things, he has trouble pooing. It causes him enough discomfort that he puts it off until things are truly desperate, which only makes the problem worse. Our vet has prescribed tramadol for the pain, which is a brilliant idea, but has one tiny drawback: flavour.
Prednisone in milk or cream is absolutely fine, but tramadol… no. We’ve tried tuna, sardines, Marmite (well, you never know) and all have failed, and it makes no difference what colour saucer we use. When Oatmeal doesn’t fancy his medication…
Here, puss, puss, puss, try the tasty tramadol.
Pah. Tastes like poo. Smells like poo. Here. I’ll spit it out. You try it.
Come on puss, just swallow…
Look, I can spit it out the side of my mouth too.
Here, puss, I’ve wrapped it in some tasty meat…
I can spit that down inside your shoe.
How about this. I mixed it with sardines.
A challenge… I can ignore that. I so can ignore that. See? This is me ignoring. Hah! Gotcha.
The tramadol option appeared doomed until we discovered Royal Canin Pill Assist. It’s brown, it’s squidgy, it passes the Oatmeal taste-test, and when placed on a pile of cat biscuits on a saucer of any colour, it gets picked off the top in preference to all else. Honestly, given a choice, I think he would probably just live off Pill Assist. He generally swallows them whole, but every so often, he bites into one in passing, enough to get a taste, but then it is too late, it’s already on the way down, and all he can do is give me that frozen what did you do look before clearing up the biscuits that don’t look, taste or smell like Tramadol.
We do have more than five saucers, but it does become a challenge, and then there is Piper, seven kilos of black and white cat who knows that saucers mean treats. So, add another saucer, or two, and then there’s Ginge, half his size but capable of consuming just as many treats. That saucer supply is looking shaky.
It’s just as well that saucers are washable.
So, saucers are for Tramadol and Oatmeal is a high and happy cat.
Mug of tea, anyone?
This was written in response to the #BlogBattle prompt of Tea, inspired by a lifetime of drinking tea and the trials of medicating a sick cat.