I know that I have mentioned my cat in a post on here before – and in fact it brought me quite a few Google searches – mainy from people looking for a ‘London cat lady’ for some reason. there must be some mad old bird in london somewhere who keeps all the stray cats in one area, has a house that smells of wee, wears purple and tea cosies as hats and shouts at children.
That’s not me though. Yet.
More than 20-21 years ago, my cousin’s cat had kittens. Four of them. Me and the guy who was to become hubby #1 had just bought a house and got me a rescue cat (I don’t like cats, I’m a dog-person, but wanted a pet) and my cousin wondered if we would like one of the kittens – she had even picked one out for me! Me and three of my friends ended up having one each.
I had the most adventurous of the lot…the one who was always trying to escape the room in the house my cousin rented, the one who climbed the laundry mountain, the one who was always hiding and pouncing out on her brother and sisters. So when she was just a couple of days shy of 6 weeks old, we drove her from Collier Row to Gillingham (through the tunnel – no bridge at that time!) and brought her home.
I remember watching her practice how to jump – leaping off the sofa and quickly turning round to see how far she’d made it, and then scrambling up and trying again. I remember her getting stuck in the net curtains, about 7ft from the floor and dangling by 2 claws, I remember her getting shut in the fridge and how as a kitten she just generally terrorised my other cat (in a loving, mischevious way).
She has outlived two marriages, countless relationships, forgiven me for having a baby, moved 4 times, must have caught about 500+ rats/mice (but never birds as I nursed an injured bird in the first week of having her, and I think she felt they were off-limits) , fought other cats and even foxes off of her territory, annoyed the hell out of me, and generally always loved me more than anything/anyone. No matter what, she has always been my cat.
She was never really a lap-cat and didn’t particularly like other people, gaining her the nickname of ‘Hellcat’ from my cat-loving friend who she seemed to hate for some inexplicable reason. However, over the past 5 years or so, she’s been an old girl and mellowed out, and wanted to be closer to people and get some fuss. She still went out every day though, leapt overhe 6ft fence and regularly brought us small rodents (or parts of them) as a token of her love. She had even spent the past couple of years refocusing her attentions onto The Girl as she had become chief Suki-feeder.
Last night she was fine – old, yes, a little bit stumbly, yes, all fur and bones, yes – but still moaning for milk if we went in the kitchen, jumping in the bathroom sink to get us to turn the tap on and wandering around happy enough.
This morning, The Man said to me “I think it might be the end of the cat’s line – come and see”. She was lying on the sofa, but with her head at a funny angle. No matter what we did, she couldn’t lift her head up properly. When I went into the kitchen, she half-slid off the sofa and attempted to follow me, but her legs kept giving up on her. It wasn’t right. SHE wasn’t right.
We cuddled her and stroked her and had her sitting on my lap, she was purring and giving me nose-love, but she couldn’t ‘be Suki’.
I had always said that as she had lasted so long with only two trips to the vet in her life (both times for fleas – once at 7 weeks and once 11 years ago) that I didn’t want her to be in pain, didn’t want to feel she wasn’t enjoying life, didn’t want to ‘keep her alive’, I had always promised myself and her that when she couldn’t maintain the life that she has always loved so much, that I would let her go with dignity.
From realisation to decision to booking to saying goodbye took less than three hours – and for that I am grateful. Me and The Man took her together, sobbing like idiots, held her all the way, talked to her, said goodbye and held her as she went to sleep. I am grateful that The Girl went away with her dad yesterday for a week as it is her birthday tomorrow and this would have ruined it for her. I have asked him to prepare her for it a couple of days before she comes home so that it isn’t a shock. I am going to make her a collage of photos to keep in her room. I have also told ex-hubby #1 who was very sad and glad she went out without declining.
RIP Suki-cat. Miss you already. I wish you were here to lick the tears from my face like you used to. Thank you for all the memories, joy, laughs and entertainment. If we get infested by rats, I am going to blame you kitten xx