Poor Millie. She's had a horrid day.
I noticed that she was a bit hunched-up and mopey last night, looking fixedly at me for long periods in that significant way that doesn't provide a dim-witted human with enough clues, but I couldn't see anything that might be wrong. She spent the whole night on my bed in the same position, and didn't want to move this morning. Her left eye was now half-closed.
The boys tried to greet her in their chirrupy, tails-up way, and were hissed and growled at. She ran away from me, and yowled when I picked her up. This wasn't Millie as we knew her; something was wrong. I made an urgent appointment at the vet's.
By 9.30, her eyeball had been examined and found to be bloodshot, swollen and excruciatingly painful. There was an injury, caused either by a fall on her head (unlikely, given her agility and sure-footedness) or a less-than-sisterly swipe from another cat's paw. No prizes for guessing which possibility we went for.
Millie decided not to be brave or stoical about the two injections that followed, but raised the roof. She directed some very bad language at the vet, despite his immense sympathy, he having suffered the same injury in the past. I cringed, as always, at the anxiety-damp paw prints on the examination table.
A few hours later, the painkiller seems to have worked well; Millie looks more cheerful, has opened her eye, eaten some chicken, and, despite my best efforts to keep her indoors, has had two minutes outside on wall patrol. In the process of escaping, she showed me very adeptly just who it is who keeps opening the locked cat flap.
So it wasn't my carelessness with the sliders; a determined claw can move that stiff one on the right, opening the flap one way, and the result is feline freedom. It is also feline locked-outness, as she hasn't worked out that in order to get back in again, she has to move the other slider - from the inside - that allows the flap to move both ways.
But that's another story, explaining why I sometimes get up to find three wet, bedraggled cats who have mysteriously locked themselves in the back yard in the early morning, queuing outside the catflap, and a worried little Hamish peering from inside at them, not daring to make the leap to freedom himself.
Lottie was made to sit on my knee and have her razor-sharp claws trimmed a little. Does she look like a fluffy young sweetie who would hurt her little sister? No?
Jill the Ripper.