Yesterday I had to take Fudge, one of our 4 cats, for that Final Trip to the vets. It wasn’t a surprise, I’d known for weeks that she was terminally ill & all we could do was make sure she wasn’t in pain & was still enjoying life, within limits, until the steroids stopped working & the growths in her nose & sinuses got big enough to be painful & interefere with her enjoyment of life. Three days ago she was still sunning herself in the garden & trying to catch unwary baby birds, but then she went quieter & her nose started to bleed. Yesterday morning she’d lost all interest in food and just wanted to hide under the bed, so I knew her time was near & I didn’t want her to suffer. It’s a hard thing to do on a personal level, but the only compassionate thing you can do for an animal that’s suffering.
Her two sisters & niece don’t seem to have missed her yet but she’ll leave a power vacuum – she was the shyest of cats to humans, but the boss amongst the cats – and I suspect the chickens will miss her more; she genuinely loved them although she didn’t take any nonsense from them, and often tried to sleep in the chicken shed – not just for the mice, either, there’s no hot water bottle as good as a broody bantam!
She was only 13; I know that’s an average lifespan for a domestic moggy but I think that’s much lower than it should be as I’ve known many cats in farm/rural conditions live well into their 20s, though quite often their tails don’t last that long. I’ll always remember when she & her 9-week-old sisters came to us; they’d been in a small local animal sanctuary that was closing down, along with the next litter up from the same mother & none of them had found homes so they were all going off to be farm cats if I didn’t take them. (Not that that’s a bad life for a cat, by any means, as long as they can stay clear of the machinery) The other two, Tinkerbelle & Tabitha, assimilated into our large & noisy family quite quickly & easily, but Fudge was petrified & stayed under the dresser for 6 weeks – all efforts to coax her out were met with a blank stare of terror. Then one night I felt a warm little head snuggle under my arm and a shy silent purr, and there she slept for the next 13 years, as long as I remembered to evict her from the chickenshed at roosting time! She was very pretty as well as affectionate; a true tortoiseshell (or calico cat, if you’re American) with clear bright markings in shades of brown, ginger, cream, black & white that earned her the nickname of the Patchwork Puss, and little black freckles on her nose.
So rest in peace under the rosebush by the chickenrun, Fudge. We’ll all miss you a lot. But the garden birds & the mice can sleep easier in their nests now…