Sunday, 13 July 2014

So Long And Thanks For All The Furballs

As mentioned this time last week, content has been sparse here of late which - after checking my calendar for the week ahead - is a trend which looks like continuing for a few more days at least. My evening schedule for the next seven days consists of an end of term presentation at the girl's school; a cricket match with the boy; a celebration meal with extended family; Forest's excellent Freedom Dinner; and our company's eighth annual summer party.

Regular readers may have noticed the lack of a link tank yesterday too. This was due to our being preoccupied with a pretty nasty Saturday.

As you can imagine, this had a lot to do with why tumbleweed was billowing around this place in the days that preceded it.

We only had our first idea that something was amiss on Monday - the second day that the old fella had left his food untouched but was sucking up water like a sponge. It's not like him at all so I prepared myself for the usual fierce battle to get him into the cat carrier and down the vet's Tuesday morning, only to watch him walk in without a fuss the moment I opened the front grille!

On hearing that he wasn't eating, the vet's brow furrowed and she suggested he be kept in overnight for blood tests. The next day I received a series of phone calls checking agreement for further tests, an ultrasound, and x-rays - complete with an ever-mounting bill - which eventually led on Wednesday evening to a crushing diagnosis.

Fears that it might be something wrong with kidneys, liver or perhaps pancreas were well-founded as it turned out his insides were all screwed. His 16+ years had caught up with him in an all-too-sudden way.

We were given steroids and antibiotics to try to alleviate the symptoms but he was having none of it, refusing to eat even his version of crack cocaine - chicken sticks and marmite - in which we could hide the tablets. At a further visit on Thursday, we were told that it "wouldn't be a wrong decision" to put him down there and then, but that a vet-administered appetite booster could help to get him eating and taking the medication. We were advised to book another appointment for Saturday morning and left in the hope that something miraculous might happen in the meantime, but knowing that it was more likely to be his last day.

So it was to be, and he fell asleep for the last time in Mrs P's arms at about midday yesterday.

It was an extremely tough day, especially due to the incredibly short lead time and since he was older than the teen kids so they'd never known what life was like without him. We'd first got him in 1998 and he was nearly two when the girl was born; and three by the time the boy arrived. In the early years he had meekly suffered the girl tying ribbons to his tail and trying to ride him like a pony; and kept his claws sheathed while the boy found it highly amusing to yank his tail or chase him around attacking him with plastic swords. Despite all that, he grew up with them and was like a third sibling.

When it all ended, the kids were crushed and tearful, and Mrs P and I were thankful for our two great friends Nick O'Teen and Al K Hall as we sat in the July sunshine and felt totally flattened.

What surprised us though, was the reaction of our neighbours. We've had a steady procession visiting here to tell us how sad they were to hear of the news, along with stories such as how they'd leave a door open to empty their bins only to return and find him happily preening himself on their sofa, or how he would position himself outside their front garden to solicit strokes from visitors and passers-by alike. All of which came as a complete surprise. The general consensus was that he had installed himself as the 'owner' of the street, and that he wasn't just ours, but also partly the pet of those living near us. When we Puddlecotes were all - with very heavy hearts - getting in the car to have him put to sleep, two families came out at the allotted time to say their own goodbyes!

It's been deeply sad, but we've also experienced a great amount of pride. We've lived in rented flats and houses while the business was built up, and now in a distinctly urban mortgaged semi, and he's always lived on fast-moving main roads with cars, buses and trucks flying by, yet he was streetwise enough to live a long life of unfettered freedom before an end surrounded by those who really loved him. If I'd been offered that when he was small enough to sit on my hand in 1998, I'd have taken it in an instant.

I suppose this is a roundabout way of explaining why it's been quiet around here recently, and why it will likely be similar for the next week at least. It's only a short hiatus though, sooner or later I'll be able to actually write something on the many notes I leave myself in Blogger's drafts.

I'm beginning to think that, as the obvious tobacco/alcohol/e-cig/junk food/fizzy drink/salt/sugar/gambling industry shill that I am regularly being accused of, I'm not really worth the non-existent cheques I'm being sent, am I? For shame.


SadButMadLad said...

My condolences as I know how it feels as I lost one of my cats to tongue cancer with just 1 weeks notice before he rapidly went downhill and the moment came to euthanise him. He's now buried in the garden which he loved.

Jax said...

Ah, Dick. I’m so sorry to hear this. Chews you up into little pieces and spits you out the other side, doesn’t it? I’m sure that many of your readers will know, as I do, what an awful time this is and what a horrid decision (albeit far and away the right and kindest one) this is to make. My condolences to you all.

Captain Ranty said...

Sorry for your loss DP.

The little buggers worm their way into your heart and when they go, they leave a hole.


Joe Williams said...

Condolences to you & your family. I hope you find some consolation in the knowledge that you gave your cat a very good life. I've found this to be a helpful thought to hang onto when my family have lost cats (& dogs), & everybody, even hardened dads, are in tears. You gave your pet the very best. I hope your distress soon lessens. Best wishes, Joe.

Simon Thurlow said...

Sadly, I know how that all feels. We lost our 17yr old cat to old age at the end of January. Unfortunately, that wasn't the end of it as just 3 weeks later we discovered that our 11yr old German Shepherd was riddled with cancer and that it would be kinder to put her to sleep. With heavy heart, we actually had her put to sleep at the beginning of March.

They may only be animals/pets, but they develop instantly recognisable personalities of their own and when they have been around that long, it is like losing a family member.

Weird part (as far as the cat was concerned) was that just after Christmas an identically marked stray cat turned up on our doorstep. After 2 weeks of failing to find the owner, we eventually adopted him. That was just a week before our 17yd old cat passed away. The new cat's personality is so like the 17yr old's pesonality that it is almost as if he was sent to us.

truckerlyn said...

I am so sorry to hear your sad news Dick, I know just how devastating it is. Pets are wonderfully therapeutic and there are often times when I prefer the company of a dog (or cat) than the company of people. Sadly I don't have that anymore as we lost our rescued greyhound almost 2 years ago, whilst we were abroad on holiday! Hubby wept like a baby for hours and said he couldn't cope losing another, so no more! This is the first time in my life I have been without a dog and it is killing me!

Sincere condolences to you and your family. Cherish the memories you have, they help, in time.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Yes, it's the rapid nature of it which caught us all off guard I think. Mrs P has asked for the ashes so he will be around here somewhere (I don't know what she has planned!).

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Thanks from all us Ps for all the kind comments. :)

Dick_Puddlecote said...

"Chews you up into little pieces and spits you out the other side, doesn’t it?"

A very accurate description!

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Thanks Joe, that's how I've been trying to view it, but Mrs P is still struggling a little.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

I've said that the hankering for a pet will return, but Mrs P is still quite raw at the moment and swears she will never consider it. I'm sure if a stray turned up in a few months like in you scenario that might change. ;)

carol scott said...

My sincere sympathy, my 15 year old Birman is showing early signs of dementia, took her to the vet for blood tests today to make sure it isn't anything else. It is so sad when you have to make the decision, I have had to four times, only one died without warning at home, but all had good long lives, were loved and had a garden to play in. You will never forget your beloved cat, I remember them all and if there is any afterlife I hope they will all be waiting for me and my late husband will be taking care of them.

Vanessa said...

So sorry to hear this, they are such a part of our families. Lost my two within a month of each other least year. I don't believe in an afterlife, still go and have a little chat with them in the garden though. In the words of Derek Tangye 'Somewhere a cat is waiting'. The right time will come for another addition to the family.

CyZane said...

I understand your pain. Our beloved Himalayan died of suffocation and dehydration 3 years ago at only 7 years old when she got trapped in our solarium with all the windows closed during an 85 degree weather. She sneaked to get to her favorite place, past the lady who was baby sitting my old mother while we were away and got trapped as the lady closed the solarium door behind her. Upon our return, our Bicha who usually greeted us at the door was not answering our call. The pain we felt when we found her dead in the solarium is beyond words. Two hours of this heat in the solarium did it :-( I will never own another pet, and I truly mean it :-(


Dick_Puddlecote said...

"I don't believe in an afterlife, still go and have a little chat with them in the garden though."

Mrs P has bought a climbing plant as a memorial, and has been doing the same talking already. I reckon I might end up doing the same on occasion. ;)

john gibson said...

I am very sorry Dick, all the best.
John Gibson

truckerlyn said...

I sincerely hope she does, our home is just a house now and so empty, Mind you, I do drive hubby crazy when we are out as I go to say 'hello' to any and every dog we see!

Take care and best wishes

Chalcedon said...

Know how you must feel. In February 2013 we lost our Main Coon cat Ben. He died peacefully in his sleep. I was only playing with him probably a couple of hours before he died. It must have been painless. We still miss him.

Tony said...

Commiserations DP I too have a cat and am dreading the moment when it arrives, having a cat for that length of time it becomes one of the family.