(minor self-inflicted animal harm, happy ending involving ice cream)
Chewie is a brave and adventurous little cat, and today we heard him running around the house yelling (not unusual) then he raced into the living room and started making vomiting noises (very unusual). He threw up yellow bile and some bits of what looked like black plastic, and I comforted him over a non-staining easy-to-clean surface while st_aurafina
cleaned up the vomit. Chewie was inconsolable, though, and kept running around yowling and sticking his tongue out.
Then we worked out the problem: we had had goat's cheese for lunch, and we had taken out the peppercorns. Now one peppercorn was missing. The internet told us that pepper is poisonous to cats, so off to the vet with Chewie, yowling all the way! Fortunately, we live in a town with huge numbers of vets (because of the huge number of cows) so it's always easy to find one, and they love treating animals other than cows for a bit of variety. Peppercorns, it turns out, are technically poisonous to cats, but since the cat always vomits them up, that's not the problem. The problem is the burns to gums, tongue and oesophagus - the vet could see where he had bitten the peppercorn, because he had a red burn around his tooth and down that side of his tongue.
He rinsed Chewie's mouth out with water (Chewie was surprised but co-operative), then put Vegemite on his paws so that he would lick it a lot and thus keep his mouth and oesophagus irrigated with soothing saliva. Apparently the salt and stickiness means that cats don't like the texture of Vegemite on their fur but do like to eat it, so this was a great success. The best bit was that when we got home, we had to give him ice cream: it's cold and soothing, plus the milk stops the pepper burning. He carefully licked vanilla ice cream from my finger, then ate some from a bowl, and after that he was much better. The other cats wouldn't let him back in the cat basket for several hours though, probably because he smelled like Vet. Now they're all snuggling together again, and all is well in cat land.