Feeling very sad…

I took a call at 6.30 last night just as I was finishing up training in Swansea… my orange cat was at the vets with hubby and it wasn’t looking good.

A marmalade tom, I delivered just over 17 years ago from his blue and cream mum on our kitchen floor in Tottenham.  My pedigree cat, Amber, had climbed out the louvre windows in the bathroom and a couple of months later presented me with a clutch of 6 kittens including Norange… like tiny soft boiled eggs hiding squirming, bedraggled furry creatures that erupted in to a mass of mews with tightly closed eyes.  

We never intended keeping him, he was destined for a neighbour who subsequently took in a lodger allergic to cats… and so he stayed. Funnily enough I was so badly allergic to them as a child I couldn’t even stroke one without reacting… until I got one.

A voracious hunter, the local voles, water rats and other furry creatures have probably been safe for a few years given his slowing down… but at one point he took out everything in sight… judging by the tiny livers scattered with gay abandon around my house or the entire offerings left lovingly for me in prominent places. (Cats are clever and know the livers are bad for them).  

I never really appreciated his prowess but a huge, fat and very lifeless water vole is not exactly a wishlist present especially not prone on the living room floor.  Living next to water we had a few for him to choose from… nobody told him they are an endangered species….  An odd cat… cuddles on his own terms and my goodness he could moult… his mum was responsible for the double coat of fur that shed in the blink of an eye.  But still endearing…

Despite asking them not to, my neighbours treated him as theirs and pampered and fed him, so I haven’t really seen much of him in the past few years, when he deigned to come home he heralded his arrival with gutteral noise to see who responded and was around.  The only other time I heard this was when he had his mouth full of something feathered or furry… so it was a race to see if whatever it was could be rescued.

Stuck in the car on the rain-soaked motorway, 220+ miles away, the decision to miss seeing him before being kind wasn’t hard. He had all sorts of infections and failures with white blood cell counts off the chart… so why would I make him endure any more pain?  Not that he ever whinged, because he didn’t…. just pottered and slept, lots, especially on the window ledge in whatever slivers of sunshine he could find. Prolonging his life wouldn’t help him and he never complained anyway, so how would I know he wasn’t in pain?  As only part-pedigree he lasted longer than his mum… but only by a year…

My mum, who died in 1997, bought me Amber, so despite severing another link with the past I couldn’t just keep him going for the sake of it, that would be cruel and I told Frank to do what was best.  The next few hours dissolved in a sea of tears and it took enormous effort to concentrate on the abnormally quiet M4… I only realised I had not engaged my normal travelling companion, the radio, as I hit the M25… nearly 200 miles had gone thinking about my orange tiger… but it was for the best.



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