Goodbye Black Cat

Black Cat

Today started like so many other days: I woke up and found my furry companion of the last 18 years, George (aka Black Cat) sitting next to me. I got up and stumbled to the bathroom. George galumphed along with me, as was his wont. It being breakfast time, George nommed his morning meal of mince à la medicine with great enthusiasm. We are (mostly) creatures of habit, George and I.

I stopped off on the way back to bed to switch on my newly de-Vistaed PC, so that my rather large collection of files could finish synching. George was having none of that nonsense, he galloped back to the bedroom to await the next step in our morning ritual: all mornings start with food and much George cuddling, there’s some kind of cat law about that.

To say there was no sign of what was about to happen next would be untrue: George was 18, he had outlived his more famous three-legged brother by four years, despite having the same thyroid condition plus a side order of arthritis. When the vet told us last summer that George had developed a lump in his stomach we knew we getting near the end, especially when the lump started to grow rapidly. We decided to go for days out rather than a holiday, so that we could spend George’s last summer at home with him. We didn’t expect him to make it very far through it.

George – aided by really excellent treatment from our vet – had other ideas. We asked the vet to help us to keep him comfortable and happy, which is exactly what happened. Provided George took his assorted medication and we left a light on for him to see at night he was fine: he still charged around the house, played with catnip mice, hunted real ones (ably assisted by the younger paws of Ginger Cat); got into fights (which seemed to me to be a bit like a 90 year old getting into punch ups, but who am I to judge?) and generally did as he pleased.

Self Service Black Cat

We didn’t think that he would make the end of the summer holidays, but he did. One minor miracle occurred – the ominous lump stopped growing and caused no further problem, but the real miracle came from the vet – we’ve enjoyed four years with George that we wouldn’t have had without their help. He was still with us at half-term, then Christmas and then finally, seemingly-impossibly, George was 18 years old. Not bad for a moggy who spent his early years acquiring as many injuries and vet appointments as he could manage.

The end wasn’t unexpected, but the suddenness of it was. One minute he was contentedly purring and demanding cuddles, the next he had lost control of his body and was obviously dying. I thought the seizure would be the end, but he came out of it, although by that point he was clearly in no state to carry on. There was only one decision we could make: an unexpected trip to the vet, a lot of tears and a George-shaped hole in our lives. After 18 years of having him as my shadow, his absence feels very strange.

It’s going to take a bit of getting used to.

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