September 6, 2008

“Casterratin Tom the cat”

Removing a Tom cat's vital parts today is a highly sophisticated medical procedure involving anaesthetics, analgesics, antibiotics, supporting vet nurses, overnight hospitalisation and other wonders of veterinary science – and all required under Animal Welfare law. And or course all this is associated with a massive bill! Modern Tom cats should be eternally grateful for the care given them, even if the implications of their experience won't be too attractive.

There was no such concern in the 1950s up the North Tyne in
Northumberland. A farm hind (general farm hand) of my acquaintance
was a dab hand at "cuttin cats". His technique maybe wasn't painless,
but it was sartainly rapid, didn't getting the vet out from Hexham and
cost nowt. All he needed was his baccy/footrot pocket knife and the
assistance of the Daft Laddie for aboot ten minutes.

The job was done aroond milkin time when all the cats were hingin
aboot in anticipation of a feed. Tom was grabbed by the Daft Laddie,
stroked and towld he was a canny lad, and then scruffed if he was in
any way suspicious of what he heard.

The "operating theatre" was the hayshed with its thick walls and
smooth red clay drainpipes that were inserted at different levels up
the wall for ventilation when the hay started to sweat a bit.

By the time the Daft Laddie had scruffed the cat, the hind had made
his initial preparations by nipping aroond the outside of the hayshed
and stuffing his cap into one of the red clay ventilation pipes at a
convenient height off the grund. The Daft Laddie was then instructed
to "hing on and poke the cat's heed inte the end of the pipe. The
hind grabbed Tom's hint legs, gave him a bit push and rotation till
his feline jewels were nicely facing upwards.

The Daft Laddie then took hold of Tom's hint legs and held them open
for the operation to take place. This was a gay kittle job, as the
Daft Laddie had to be gay careful to avoid Tom's claws as he wasn't
ower sweet on being poked heed forst into a dark hole.

The hind had already honed his knife on the byre window sill, and in
nee time Tom's wee scrotum was nicked, his stones exposed and neatly
draan as happened to scores of lambs each year. A drop of
disinfectant on the spot and the job was done.

Nuw Waat? The Daft Laddie was told to "just hing on" to the cat's
hind legs and not in any circumstance pull Tom backwards oot of the
pipe or he'd be a bundle of flailing claws. The hind disappeared
aroond the outside of the hayshed and pulled his cap oot of the pipe.
He then shouted to the Daft Laddie to "let him gan".

Tom didn't hing aboot and took off like Bluestreak from Spaedadam
rocket testing ground! The funny thing was that it was a couple of
days before Tomette turned up again for his milk, presumably having
had a short spell convalescing in some well hidden possy.

"EEEEEH" said Betty the sarvent lass, "Aav seen nowt of Tom for few
days, Aa hope nowt's happened tiv him". The Daft Laddie was in an
ideal position to reassure her. "Divn't worry bonny lass, hees heme
again but not ower keen te cum for his milk. He seems te be two stone
lighter anall!"

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