And can hardly bear to tell.
Our regular readers will know that amongst the many cats we have here, we’ve have a couple of older lads.
They’ve both had health issues over the last few years but have plodded along. We’ve said before that despite the awfulness of COVID 19 and lockdown we’ve loved working from home and being able to be with them for more of the time. Jango really embraced WFH with zoom and telephone calls and snoozed & snuggled through hours and hours of online work. Practically he didn’t make it easy … with his tendency to chew any electic cable in sight, or just blocking the way to the keyboard … but emotionally … through the early weeks of lockdown his solid snoring presence got me through. His poor mobility due to arthritis was a concern. He doesn’t eat a lot but lack of exercise had led to him being overweight.
Henderson has tended to stay downstairs and not get involved in work as my office is upstairs. In the three years he’s been with us he’s made it his mission to collect diagnoses. He was diagnosed with hyperthyroid in 2017, chronic kidney disease in 2019, and high blood pressure early this year. Being home and observing him more closely I realised just how much he was drinking. He’d had a check up just before lockdown … and no major new worries. His drinking seemed more extreme though … but vets were only open for emergencies … and worries about drinking a bit more in a cat with kidney disease didn’t seems like an emergency. It kept getting worse though.
I started trying to tell this tail in the first week of May, but it was too painful to tell. I’ve come back to it a few times … and a few more times … but still found to too painful, but until it’s shared no other tails can be told.
On Saturday 2 May despite vet services being very limited due to lockdown we decided we had to talk to the vet about Henderson. He was drinking more and more water and getting increasingly unsteady on his feet. He’d been due to review in May anyway. In spite of or maybe because of lockdown, I got to speak to Henderson’s vet within an hour or so of calling the surgery. We agreed I’d get a urine sample from him on the Monday as an intial step to seeing how much his kidneys had detriorated, if there was protein in his urine. We got our lovely cat sitter on standby for Monday to run it down to the vets, whilst I was working.
Sunday came and Henderson seemed even worse, not wanting to eat despite my cooking up every possible thing that might tempt a poorly cat. We spent most of the morning trying, mashed, gently warmed, smelly foods. scrambled egg, sardines, tuna ….. and nothing was working. I’d carried Jango downstairs for breakfast earlier. Sometimes he chooses to eat upstairs, sometimes he goes to the top of the stairs when we get up in a morning (which I assume means he wants to come down) and so I carry him down. He can get down under his own steam but I like to protect his sore joints. He had breakfast with the rest of the family, and lounged around downstairs whilst I tried to feed Henderson. Then he sat at the bottom of the stairs …. which is my cue to carry him back up. I put him on the bed on his heat pad where he loves to sleep (often sharing it with his friends) easing his achey bones.
I flopped on the bed, sobbing about Henderson being poorly. Comforted by my inner circle of Jango, Honey and Flipper, all purring and snuggling. Suddenly … I’ll spare you the traumatic details which will be etched on my memory for the rest of my life … Jango had some kind of attack/seizure and died. Within moments our world turned upside down.
Everyone who knows us at all knows that we love all our cats and don’t have favourites. Anyone who knows us more closely knows that Jango is my favourite. He’s lived with us longer than any of the others … it would have been 10 years in December. He stayed with us rather than being adopted because of all sorts of weird and awkward behaviour. He was a bit of a nightmare for a whole series of vets and cat sitters … and for me sometimes too … but I worshipped the ground he walked on.
Lockdown added to the agony of this of course, as it has added to the pain of so many other bereaved people. I wasn’t able to take him to the crematorium myself … which is what we normally do. Even taking him to the vets to then be taken to the crem wasn’t “normal”. On Monday morning I had to cancel work and take emergency leave because I couldn’t stop crying. I had to call the vets from the car park, and the nurse come out to collect him from the car. She’s a lovely nurse that both Jango and I have known for many years and has cared well for both of us when he’s been poorly. She was so kind and allowed us plenty of time to say our final goodbyes …. but I’ll never forget the sight of her carrying him away, his tail flopping out of the fleece we’d wrapped him in.
And then of course we had to go home and get Henderson’s urine sample ….