Two years ago this week we lost our second cat. It’s easy to remember because things came to a head as we approached the end of the summer term. She had been suffering with a thyroid condition for some time, which although being controlled by medication was definitely still affecting her behaviour and appetite. We had been in dispute with the pet insurance company about payment for treating the condition. In the end, she left the building through having ingested rat poison. The poison works by suppressing the clotting of blood, so the animal bleeds to death internally and through every available external orifice. Even rats don’t deserve that. Her brother had succumbed probably a couple of years earlier to a common condition in male cats that blocks the urethra and causes the kidneys to shut down if you don’t catch it very quickly. If you have a male cat and you see him having difficulty peeing, get him to a vet straight away.
Cats appear to perceive time and relationships differently from humans. They do display impatience, but they also have endless waiting powers, letting things happen around them, sleeping inconspicuously and strolling or darting into opportunity as the occasion demands. It’s difficult for us to tell if they experience a sense of loss. Their cries sound emotional but may not be.
My first pet was a cat. A small, sleek, jet black affair. She responded with remarkable equanimity when we later acquired a huge dog. One day she just never returned and her bowl of milk waited a while longer before giving up and departing. They say that having pets as a child prepares you for the same experience in relation to humans. I’ve yet to put that to the test. I hope my wait lasts into eternity but I know it will not.
I was prompted to write this when I happened to read a blog post by the ever eloquent Sarah Pinborough about the death of her own cat: My Cat. By Me. Here’s to all the cats out there, waiting.