Today marks a full year since I lost the last of my furry girls, my darling old puss Cassie, after sixteen and a bit years, and a very sudden decline. She had given me a health scare earlier last year, ominously on the first anniversary of the date we lost her wonderful sister Pandora on, but we got lucky and she recovered to become even bouncier than before, until last autumn, when I noticed she was a little slower a couple of evenings, then when curled up next to me at night, I noticed her purring sounded wrong, a bit too nasal, which worried me, especially as this was a precursor to her previous health scare. I booked an appointment at the vet, but on the day I was to take her in she was okay if sounding a little bronchial in the morning but a little later the same day she suddenly declined, breathing hard to try and get air. The vet took her in right away and tried various approaches, but they weren’t working, and at her age the breathing problems were having knock-on effects on the rest of her body, and I had to make the decision to let her go so she wouldn’t suffer. I went from being a little concerned that morning but thinking another shot of the treatment she had six months previously would sort her out again, to realising she was dying and I was losing her.
Having lost Pandora then darling Dizzy the year before it was shattering to consider being without her. The vet let me stay with her until she was gone, then my friend brought me home, a home, for the first time empty except for me. The girls were only a couple of years old when I bought this place, so I’ve never lived here without them. The sight of their food bowls and toys had me in tears and the horrible emptiness of the flat was terribly upsetting; lying in bed that night I kept waiting for the quiet pad-pad-pad of cat paws on the wooden floorboards sneaking through, then that little pause of silence as she readied herself to leap up in the dark onto the bed, then over, nose in my face, a mieow, then settle down, curling up against me to go to snooze while getting her tummy tickled, purring us both to sleep. Of course it didn’t happen, and of course she wasn’t snuggled up contentedly with me next morning when I woke up, and the thought that this would never happen again was heart-breaking. Coming home from work that day was awful, because I knew I was going to come in to an empty home. In fact it simply stopped feeling like home without the girls.
That this happened during dad’s illness, while we were awaiting his serious operation, just made it all worse. When we lost mum so shockingly suddenly the kitties were wonderful for keeping my morale up, especially on those nights where it all became too overwhelming. And then just weeks later dad’s operation, and it not going well, those weeks and weeks in intensive care, weeks before I could even hear my dad speak again even if faintly, constantly travelling for hours back and forth to hospital, the bleak December, what would have been mum’s birthday came and went as dad was desperately ill in hospital, Christmas day after visiting him in hospital I sat at the family home, utterly empty for the first time I can remember on that day, alone and more depressed and strained and stressed than I have ever been until my lift back to Edinburgh came, and then it was back to an equally empty flat, not even my furry girl to demand attention and cheer me up; it just made it all so much harder to bear. Amazing the effect on our mental state and morale our furry friends can have. I couldn’t even consider visiting the rescue shelter to see about another kitty while I was worried about dad and then having to move back home to look after him when he finally got out after a long, long, dark couple of months. Christmas, New Year and my birthday all went past without registering or happening for me.
Now dad is much better and I find myself starting to think about it again, but after years of being on tight income coupled with too many bills for travelling back and forth last year and the unexpected vet bills of the previous couple of years I simply can’t at the moment, if I took in a cat just now and she needed treatment I would be too stretched. One more impulsive friend tells me to stop hesitating and just do it, but I think that’s very irresponsible, no matter how much I may want to, I take looking after an animal seriously. Part of me is still emotionally unsure about new cats though – what I really want are my girls, but of course I can’t have that ever again. But I know that when I am at the animal shelter it will be just like all those years ago when I first went there before they gave me the girls – two tiny, ten week old kittens – and of course I melted at all the cats there, lots of them in the open play area were coming up to me for attention and I wished I could take them all away and give them a home. So I know although emotionally I’m still a bit unsure I also know that if and when I take in other cats it will help me move on. And it’s no bad thing to give some animals a home. Although as I once said on here before, when you take in a rescue animal from the shelter you don’t exactly give them a home – they make a home with you. They give it warmth and life and make a place you live in into an actual home. I’m not sure when I will be able to take new cats in, but just days before Cassie fell ill I had picked up a spare bag of cat litter. I still have it, unopened. The nice lady in my local pet store kindly offered to take it back as it hadn’t been used before I suddenly lost Cassie, but I decided to keep it tucked away to remind myself that no matter when it is, I will have other kitties at some point.
Hard to believe that’s a whole year since Cassie left though, a whole year, the first year I haven’t had cats to look after in a long number of years, and it still feels wrong. Funny how such a small creature can have such a huge impact on your life. Goodnight you demanding furry queen of my heart, with your ever present demands for attention offset with warm cuddles and purrs and oh, that astonishingly soft fur. And that strange taste you developed for cookies and cakes. I had some cake just last week and found myself turning around still half expecting Cassie to be sitting in the kitchen doorway observing me, licking her lips and doing the big-eyes thing, waiting to claim a piece for herself. She could be asleep on the bed two rooms away and yet magically if I made a cuppa and grabbed a cookie I would turn around and she would be right behind me looking at the plate, licking her lips, and if I came in with a bag from the wee patisserie nearby she went crazy. I don’t know how she developed this taste for cookies, cakes, croissants and all things baked, but she loved a little bit of it and it became a little ritual with the pair of us, one of those little habits that makes life run a little more nicely. I miss that too.