It’s been a very rough couple of days for me and my Cassie cat. Towards the end of last week I thought her sister, my gorgeous big Pandora puss, was acting a bit out of sorts. At the start of the week she was acting as normal, jumping up on the bed for a nap, happily munching some sliced chicken. Towards the end of the week I thought she was seeming a bit off her game, a bit lethargic maybe, still eating, not being sick or anything, wasn’t sure if she was just having a couple of off days or if it might be something more and I was thinking okay, next week we better get a vet’s appointment for you to be on the safe side. On Saturday she seemed a bit more off, atlhough still eating, still ambling around the flat and even jumping up into my recently vacated seat to steal it. Well, actually not to steal it, when Pandora grabs your seat when you move she isn’t actually stealing it, what she really wants is for you to sit next to her and snuggle with her.
But then came Sunday morning. Cassie woke me with alarmed mieows and as soon as I sat up in bed I thought she was trying to alert me to something and right away thought Pandora. Then I heard a terrible whimper from under the bed and Pandora was there, had come through at some point during the night and curled up underneath the bed as I slept – not unusual for her, the girls long ago claimed an old suede suitcase under the bed as a kind of kitty hammock for their Secret Dark Hidey Hole Spot. But she was barely moving, I had to pull the case out to get her, she couldn’t move out herself. I picked her up and she was limp in my arms, head lolling and panicking carried her through to the living room and gently lay her down on the sofa. She couldn’t even move her head or paws enough to make herself comfortable and I had to arrange them for her. I couldn’t believe how much she had faded since bedtime last night and was terrified she was dying on me right there. Phoned the vet and got the emergency weekend number which turned out to be in a surgery on the far side of town, but luckily my friend Gordon came right round with his car and drove us up. Poor Pandora was so limp it was hard to get her in the travel box and at the vet we had to tilt it and gently slide her out, she just lay there not moving.
After a lot of checks the vet told me her temperature was dreadfully low, barely above the bare minumum for a living cat, her blood circulation was poor although her heart was beating strongly and she was dehydrated even though I had seen her drinking water and kitty milk. They put her on drips to get her hydration and blood sugar back to normal and put her into an incubator to warm her and told me to phone in a few hours. I went home worried sick but when I called later they said she was responding to treatment, but it was as well we came when we did, she had been only an hour or so from slipping into a coma then death. Thank goodness for Cassie waking me to help her sister, or else I might have found her later in the morning already gone and that would have been even harder. She said we’ll keep her going on this and keep her overnight, get her tomorrow all being well and take her to your normal vet. Call back in the evening she said. I did and she was now keeping her temperature herself without the incubator and fluid and sugar levels returning to normal, but her eyesight was gone, but the vet said this was because of the sudden low sugar and hydration levels and should return in a day or two as she stabilised. But they still didn’t know what caused it, although she noticed a lump under her ribs in front of her heart, but she thought that was something to check later. So I called Gordon to say we’d get her back in the morning as he has already kindly said he’d give me a lift again. And I had gone from thinking I was losing her in the morning to thinking great, get her home tomorrow, more to check out but she’s doing okay and coming home.
(I was trying to get a close-up of Pandora when she opened her mouth in this jaw-stretching yawn!)
Then the vet called again. A complication, that lumps was full of fluid and the drip she was on was making it worse, they would have to stop or she’d suffocate from it, but if they stopped she would slowly slip back in her weakened state to the coma like state she was in when I found her. Either way she was going to decline slowly during the night and she would begin to suffer as she did. We have to think what’s best for Pandora, the vet told me, which was a gentle way of telling me I had to let her be put to sleep to spare her suffering. Thank god Gordon didn’t mind being dragged back out late on a wet, dark Sunday night and drove me back there so I could be with my gorgeous girl for a little while. Her sight was still wonky but she knew it was me holding her, talking to her, stroking her and I could hear her purr so very quietly. Then it was time and they made her sleep so she wouldn’t feel the final injection. I held her and stroked her lovely, autumn coloured fur until her heart stopped and my adorable Pandora was gone. The vet was very nice and left me with her for a little while. She looked like she was sleeping on her little rug and I felt so guilty having to leave her there, even though I knew it wasn’t her any longer. And I felt so guilty at signing the form to let them put her to sleep, even though I knew it was the only mercy I could give to her and was the right thing to do. God knows how anyone ever makes a decision like switching off life support for their human family members, it’s agonising enough with your beloved cat.
Been off the last couple of days and feel shattered, all happened so fast and I can’t quite process that my gorgeous, lovely, warm kitty of over 13 years has been taken away and I never get to see her again. When I don’t see her here I keep thinking she must be sleeping on the bed in the other room and expect to see her come trotting through to the living room at any moment. Then I remember and realise that will never happen again and it’s awful. Pandora is such a huge, huggy puss – she loves being picked up, lies back in your arms like a big furry baby purring against your arms. Sometimes when I held her like that she would raise one of her enormous creamy white paws and gently pat my face. Adorable. Every night when I came home she would wait patiently for me to pick her up like that and cuddle her. I never met a cat so damned cuddly, I am sure she must have been a teddy bear in a former life. No matter how bad a day I had I came home to a big Pandora hug and I felt better. Even in the dark days after we lost mum so suddenly both my girls made me feel better. And now I’ll never come home to my little darling ever again and that’s awful.
(those big, shiny eyes, those gorgeous colours like an autumn forest. And those huge white paws. As soon as I brought her home as a kitten I saw those paws and knew she would grow into a huge puss. And she did. A huge and cuddly puss)
Not slept much last couple of night, Cassie normally curls up with me at night, but she is curling up for a while then she goes off round the flat mieowing and looking for Pandora, then comes back to me in bed, then goes looking again. During the day she’s been snuggling up to me all the time except when she goes looking for her sister again. She doesn’t understand what happened, but she knows Pandora is gone and that something bad happened and she’s clearly distressed. I worry about Cassie, she’s never been alone in her life, never been parted from her sister. I brought them home as 10 week old kittens from the cat shelter years ago, they were so small they could fit in your hand and I loved them right away. The cats made the flat into a real home, not just a place to live, but a warm, living, welcoming place;’ they’re not pets, they’re companions, friends, family, your girls. And believe me, when you live by yourself they are such a hugely important part of your emotional life support. The girls and dad have been what kept me going since we lost mum and I’ve been dreadfully afraid of this kind of thing happening as they got older. You know when you have pets one day this will happen, you trade the many good days and years off against the bad days when you lose them. And painful as that is, a pain that goes into your heart and soul, it is still worth it for the brightness they bring into our lives.
(Pandora with her sister Cassie lying behind her,she liked lying on the end of the bed, big paws out in front like a Sphinx. Some nights she would lie there while I slept, as if she was keeping guard so no bad dreams could get to me)
Goodnight my adorable Pandora, you made me happy, you made me smile even when I was miserable and in pain like I had never known before, you snuggled up to me and purred against me, you made me laugh as you played with the ball of wool. You brought life and love and warmth into my life and made the flat a home along with your dear sister. It’s only been two days and already I miss you dreadfully and so does your little sister. I don’t know where we go when it ends and I don’t believe the fairy tales of any religion, but it’s also hard to believe we just stop. If we go somewhere afterwards then mum, please look out for my wee girl, she’ll be lost and wondering where I am. She loves to be held and stroked, please look after her and love her for me. Goodnight, my gorgeous girl, I love you and life is so much darker without your light beside me.