This post is dedicated to Wimpy Mum’s wonderfully cheeky, charismatic and loving cat, Whisky who left us to chase lizards in the sky today.
Titled the “Miracle Cat” by several vets, Whisky has defied all the odds and pulled through several near death experiences which has baffled veterinary professionals. Every time I would take him in to see them, they would question how many of his nine lives he had left, and he always set to prove them wrong.
Whisky was 16 years old and has been ill with a thyroid disorder for several years meaning he no longer donned the chunky bulldog physique he had owned in his younger years, and was now a fragile skeletal version of his former self. But boy could he eat! He would eat and eat and eat like a cat has never eaten before, and then forget he had eaten and beg for more. Yet he never gained weight, and in recent weeks has wasted away to a mere bag of bones. He was still our loveable, happy and purring bag of bones though.
Two days ago he seemed more manic than ever, and this was followed by a day of hiding away. He didn’t come for his breakfast which I knew was a bad sign, and when I did find him he was laying, under a bush and soaked to the bone and refusing to move. I took him indoors and dried him, and he slept on my lap for hours that evening before asking to go out for the night. I was reluctant, but he seemed a little perkier. However the next day he hid away again and did not come for his breakfast. I called and searched for him all day before finding him in the evening sitting staring across the swimming pool. I called his name and ran over to him. He looked up at me, with what I can only describe as a sadness in his eyes. I scooped him into my arms and he didn’t resist. He was too weak. When in the house, he sloped off slowly to a corner behind a rocking chair where he sat with his head on the floor. I bought him a bowl of water which he lapped at like he had not drunk for weeks, which was obviously not the case.
We knew that something was not quite right. It wasn’t like him to hide away and I knew that he wanted to be by himself. We found a cardboard box which we lined with a towel and I placed Whisky in it. I then laid the crochet blanket I had made him 2 years ago over his body, and we placed him in a corner of the bathroom next to the radiator and out of everyone’s way. I spent half an hour laid next to him, stroking his skeletal form and telling him I loved him.
He didn’t move. He didn’t lift his head. Until, I asked, “Is it time, Whisky? Do you need to go?” He lift his head and his eyes stared into mine. Those same beautiful green eyes I had stared into 17 years ago in that tiny little pet shop in Mitcham, Surrey. The little scrap of a kitten who’s whiskers had been cruelly cut off, and whom no one else had wanted to buy. Those same eyes that melted my heart and impelled me to take him home. Those same eyes that had stuck by me, through thick and thin, and been there no matter what for half of my life. And in that moment, I knew, it was time.
“If you need to go, it’s ok,” I cried. I stroked his head and he managed a laboured purr, before laying his head back down.
I checked on him several times during the night. He didn’t move. He didn’t even get up to use his litter tray.
But then this morning, he seemed a little perkier. He lifted his head and purred as I petted him. He even managed a mouthful of food and a few treats.
However he did not leave the box in the corner.
The vets agreed to see him that afternoon. We went along as a family, because I had already warned my sons, and they wanted to be there.
The vet did not hesitate to inform us that he was gravely ill, and that if he was left to die naturally it would not be a pleasant death.
I love Whisky with all my heart. I love how he sits at the back door every morning waiting to be fed, and if no one comes, he does a tour of the house, looking in every window as he goes. I love how he follows me around the garden to feed the goats and sits with me whilst I tend to the vegetable patch. I love how he sits on every bit of paper you are about to write on, or every book you are about to read. I love how he purrs – constantly – and loudly. What a happy cat! I love how he miaows like a girl – even though he was always such a butch cat. I love how he was always there, beside me or on my lap. I love how he nibbled my ankles and knees if I stopped petting him. I love how much unconditional love he gave me, and how when I was sad or alone or in need of love – he would just lay beside me and purr. He never said hurtful words to me and he never made me sad. I love Whisky so much that despite the heartbreak it would cause me to let him go, it would cause me more to see him suffer.
The rest of the family said their tearful goodbyes, but I stayed with Whisky and held him close to me as the vet gave him an anaesthetic. He didn’t even flinch. Then I gently stroked his head and paws, and told him over and over how much he was loved and for him to go and find Arran.
He eventually fell asleep and I couldn’t watch as the final injection set him free. But I was there, comforting him and loving him unconditionally as he had done with me all of those times over the last 17 years.
The hours since have been a blur of tears, sleep deprivation and, well, sheer devastation. In all honesty – I’m a mess.
Coming home and having to tidy away his litter tray, and see the little box he had spent his last night in. Sitting on the sofa with the Whisky shaped indent on the back of the cushion where he would sleep, knowing I would never hear his happy purr in my ear again. Wiping down the kitchen sideboards we had told him off for walking on, searching for food, so many times. Not seeing him tour the exterior of the house this morning, and peering through the window of the room he finds us in, eagerly waiting to be fed. Seeing the empty summer kitchen where he ate and slept and not hearing his little miaow or feel him brush affectionately against my leg. What I’d give to see him naughtily creeping along the kitchen tops, or sitting at the back door waiting to come in, or curled up warmly on my lap – just one last time.
Some mock those who grieve for their lost pets. But Whisky wasn’t just a pet. He was a part of our family. He was a friend. He was even, I’d go as far as to say, like my child. I nursed him when he was sick, he depended on me, he followed me everywhere, he never hurt or let me down and he loved me deeply with no conditions. He was there with me everyday for half of my life.
That’s a long time to love someone.
Don’t tell me the heartbreak of losing someone you have loved for that long isn’t worthy of recognition because that someone is not human.
I started writing this blog in the early hours of the night we lost Whisky. I tried to sleep but every time I closed my eyes I saw Whisky’s big deep and wise eyes looking back at me in those last moments before we said goodbye – and this image jolted me awake each time. So I took myself to the sofa we used to snuggle on, clutching the towel and crochet blanket he slept in on his last night, clinging on to every last hint and scent of the little cat who bought me so much joy these past 17 years.
I pray he knows that we let him go because we love him. And always will.
I know they say “time heals” and “you made the right choice” and “he had good innings” and “he’s in a better place now” – but I’m a little too overwhelmed with sadness right now to see beyond the heartbreak I currently feel, although I know it will come.
My only comfort is to believe that my Whisky Woo and Arran are together, somewhere over the rainbow.
Sleep well my Miracle Cat… xxx