A year since cookie cat…

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.

Cassie on bed

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.

Cassie on the sofa

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.

Sleepy Cassie 3

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.

sleepy puss

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.

Goodnight, my sweet girl

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.

Pandora on the rug 1

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.

Pandora closeup 02

Pandora yawns
(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.

pandora 2
(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 and Cassie on bed
(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.

Pandora in slatted sunlight

Fireside kitty

Outside it is freezing; crisp, sharp, cold air, breath misting in front of passers-by as if it was smoke and their mouths the chimney for the furnace of their body, trying to warm itself against the winter night; clear sky above and a large, crescent moon hanging in the darkness. But not inside, oh no; in here it is warm and comfortable. The fire flickers happily while the candles cast amber shadows across the room. Pandora has the sofa to herself and settled down for a semi-snooze, her huge eyes opening from time to time as if to make sure everything is okay and to see what I’m doing. Her sister Cassie has settled herself down on the new rug right in front of the fireplace and is purring away, her plump little furry body settled down in the prime warm spot of the room in that way that cats do so well.

Cassie tries out the ‘Andy Capp’ position but prefers the new rug in front of the fire to Andy’s normal sofa.

Yes, she is indeed a portly puss, being both middle-aged and an indoors kitty, but that fur is even softer than it looks and warmer than usual as she toasts herself by the fire. I can feel the vibrations of her contented purrs right through her little body; that’s one happy cat. Which of course makes me very happy and relaxed too; all the problems of life slip away for a brief spell because it is all but impossible to worry or feel down when you’re tickling a happy kitty’s warm, furry tummy. One of life’s simple pleasures, curled up next to my girl.

Ahhhh, pure contentment… I just couldn’t take pics in such low light without a flash with the old camera, but this new one seems to handle it quite easily.Funny how on the first night of winter when I lit the fire for the first time since the previous winter the cats somehow knew, even though they were asleep in another room and came trotting through right away and promptly curled up in front of it. Just put down a new rug from Ikea the other day – obviously it has already obtained the Cassandra Seal of Approval. She looks so sweet and innocent here, but tomorrow it will be totally different as she jumps on my head to wake me up in the morning… Wouldn’t have it any other way of course.

Let sleeping cats lie

As I type this Pandora is curled up on the sofa, slumbering away as cats are wont to do. Little meows are to be heard occasionally while her huge, creamy white paws keep moving and her whiskers are twitching. What do cats dream about? Milk? Mice? Mice in milk? Or maybe she dreams of dangling a length of wool and watching me bat it and chase it for a change.

What a coup

Can I just take this opportunity to remark about today’s story about Mark Thatcher’s arrest for allegedly taking part in an attempted coup in an African country? I would just like to say a heartfelt and considered HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!

Yes, I know it may well be the sign of a poor man to laugh at the misfortune of another, but frankly it’s just too fun to pass up on seeing this man who was referred to as ‘Thicky’ by his school chums at his posh private school and who has traded on the name of his evil former prime minister mother and used her links in a way that would make a Bush family member proud to make more business.

new toy

On a good news front however, I picked up my shiny new toy today – a Toshiba laptop. It will take me ages to transfer over files accumulated on my ancient pentium desktop, but at least I have my existing email etc set up on the shiny little new machine. Very sexy and I’m very pleased with it – except Windows Xp seems deigned to stop people like me who know how to fiddle with things fiddling with things… I’m sure I’ll figure it all out eventually – unless is succumb to playing a nice new state-of-the art game, the type I couldn’t play on my old machine. Yes, I’m just waiting for Alex to supply me with new games distractions so I get bugger all work done on the new machine.

One drawback to the new computer – it is a nice thin plasma screen. This means no hot monitor for my cats to sleep on, they are most distressed. Still, I will take this opportunity to start training them up on anti-terrorism measures. The big puss, Pandora, is the tactical cat, designed to clobber the enemy by… well sitting on their laps and purring. Cassandra (Cassie) is the smaller cat and to be used for swift, surgical strikes. Ha, no Al-Queda plague infested rats being unleashed near me! Back to the new toy oh how my poor bank balance screams for mercy. But the old machine was not only from the Triassic era it was now making sounds like the last Huey out of Saigon in 1975, so it aint long for this world. That’s my justification and I am sticking to it!