In Memoriam: The Cat
Regular readers of this blog, will know her as the Cat. To me she was: Bloody Animal, Little One, Solly and Solitaire.
She was Boy's birthday present. After 2 years of upheaval after my separation and divorce, we were finally settled enough to have a pet. She was supposed to be Boy's. Stupid human. We were hers.
We went and chose her from the surviving litter of 3. A dog had got in and killed her mum and other siblings. She remained a nervous little thing with a horrendous habit of peeing by the front door. Especially, if I hung a door curtain to keep the cold out. I tried all kinds of remedies to break that habit. It was only once we'd moved back here to the flat (and I didn't bother with the door curtain) that she stopped peeing regularly there.
As a kitten she was a mental little thing. As an adult, she had the sweetest temperament. When we lived here in the Flat before, I'd throw the door open in the summer and she would go out and about. When I had to shut the door to go out, or it was time for bed, she would come running. She didn't like to be shut out. At the House, with the cat flap, she would come in and out as she pleased. Still she preferred company. When I smoked she would always come out and keep me company, though she was less inclined if the weather was diabolical, she would still huddle under the umbrella with me.
The Cat hated to be picked up. She would tolerate it for a few heartbeats and then the front feet would come out and she would push until she was released. That didn't prevent her from being affectionate. She'd never come and sit on my lap, but she would curl up next to me on the sofa, or at my feet on the bottom of my bed. Afternoon nap time she'd lie in between my legs as long as I was there and give me the evils when I'd get up.
She loved to play. Her games became more sedate as she gracefully aged, but there was still mischief there. She liked to bat things off tables, much in the same way a baby will throw a toy out of a pushchair, and she would wait with supposed indifference until it was replaced. Then it would be batted off again. Pens, coins, batteries.
She also had a thing about water. No glass of water was safe...I was never fully convinced that glasses of squash were off limits either. As a kitten she'd play with her water until the kitchen was flooded. I took to putting her water in a jug in the bath. At night, I'd wake to hear the sound of the plastic reverberating against the bath as she played.
A small cat, she had a thing about heights. She needed to be higher off the ground. Therefore, stools, tables, bookcases were all her favoured vantage points. Box files on tables were also acceptable and at a push a single 80 gsm piece of paper on the floor would do. When we moved to the House 5 years ago, she wasn't so much of a keen jumper. I only really know of one occasion when she jumped the fence and left the garden and I know that only through Boy who had to retrieve her from behind the neighbour's shed.
Last summer, I noticed she was even less inclined to jump and she struggled to get onto furniture in the same energetic way. She was 14 going on 15 and I figured she was entitled to slow down.
In my heart of hearts, I knew last summer our time together was coming to an end. I knew I could take her to the vets and get her checked out. But it would mean a car journey that she hated with a passion and the vets, which stressed her out to the extent she would hide for days after. Instead, I bought collapsable stools that I placed where she liked to jump up: next to our sofas, next to the bath and at the foot of my bed. I bought her a new catnip toy mouse that she squeaked around the front room. I gave her more and more treats to encourage her to eat.
A couple of weeks ago, I noticed she kept trying to go to the loo on the carpet. Nothing was coming out. Then her distress was more clear. I packed her off to the vets to be told she was vastly underweight and dehydrated. They kept her in for blood tests and stuck her on a drip. It was an awful weekend. When the second round of blood tests came back with hyper-thyroidism, I thought we had a reprieve. I was forced to consider our options and I knew I wouldn't put her through any treatment.
In the last fortnight, she and I had a battle twice a day, to get her to take a little pink pill. Bless her, she instantly forgave the indignity, even if she began to develop a time sense and started to try to disappear at pill time. Her appetite returned and she ate with much gusto.
On Friday morning, I woke to the sound of her being sick. Yakking up a furball I thought. Except there was no fur. I had to work. I took her food away and didn't give her the pill, but asked Boy to do it later on. Work was an absolute blast. I swanned in full of triumph and a couple of gins. Dave and I were going to drive Boy back to university on Saturday and despite that, I was in total party mode.
Until I saw she had continued to be sick. And she was sick where she was.
I rang the vets and pestered the receptionist until I was given an emergency appointment there and then.
Despite her improved appetite she hadn't gained any weight in the two weeks. The vet couldn't hear her heartbeat on one side of her body. She was too fragile to sedate to X-ray Yes, the vomiting could be stopped. It could be caused by the medication. There were diets that could potentially work. She had just lost too much weight in too short a time. Her fur hid the lack of bulk. I cried through our entire consultation, the Cat tucked firmly against me. It was the only place she felt safe. She fought with the vet to get back to me and in the end, she was examined as I held her.
We had 15 years together. She was our sense of home. She was my companion through sorrow and joy. We have so many memories fun, frustrating, hilarious of her. She trained us so well.
Solitaire slipped away, very gently in my arms.