I had to have Mr Fox put down today. It’s just a year since Basil, my darling, darling cat had a stroke and had to be put down, then Saffy, our spaniel died. Bird and Fox, the two ginger cats, replaced them. Bird disappeared and Fox became the man of the house.
He’d disappeared a couple of times for long periods of time, and then spent a lot of time asleep on the couch. Yesterday morning, he turned up after another 36 hour absence. He ate a little breakfast and curled up on the couch.
Later, he seemed to be having problems moving. Then he had diarrhea and vomiting. By 10 p.m. I was so worried, it was time for a syringe for water feeding and then vets first thing this morning.
He’d woken once in the night, padded around a bit. More vomiting. Couldn’t hold any water down.
I’d got up to get first to the vet’s. The usual vet was closed, so it was back to La Rochefoucauld. I didn’t much like this vet at first when we arrived mainly because the surgery was full and the dogs were howling. Some were throwing up. It was awful. Basil got taken to Mansle and the vet was so very, very kind that Tilly has always been there. Molly has never needed the vet. Fox and Bird, when they arrived, got taken for a jab and their vaccinations. I thought that included FIV – Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. It doesn’t.
The vet turned out to be lovely. We were first in. She took his temperature and checked him out, told me she was going to take a blood test and that it might be FIV.
The prognosis for cats with FIV is fine – as long as it hasn’t gone too far. I don’t know how long this poor boy has been living with a death sentence, but it took him quickly. That’s the only blessing. It’s so very, very sad to lose such a king among cats. He was gentle, sweet and loving. He never, not once, got his claws out. Basil used to savage me constantly; Clint, my sister’s cat is a menace. Fox never once got sharp. He’d come in the morning when called. It was how Tilly and I start our day. Get up. Have some petting, go and call for Mr Foxy. He’d come trotting in and Tilly would get so excited to see him that she’d sometimes wee or be a little sick. She loved that cat. He’d sleep on the sofa, stretched out on his back and then sometimes lie underneath it with his legs sticking out. He’d bring us mice and rats, never got angry as some cats do, and was the most good-natured creature ever. Where Basil had been whimsical and petulant, a little insecure and neurotic, Foxy was gentle and easy to look after, confident and delicious. He and Bird used to lick my hands when I petted them.
I wonder if I can have cats again. Every time he didn’t come home, I wondered if the road had claimed him. I still don’t know what had happened to Birdie. I worried constantly about them being out, about foxes and polecats, martins and badgers. I worried about other cats and whether César would chase him. The vet said she has had three cats in the last three weeks with FIV – and when I said I thought he’d been inoculated, she said the vaccination for FIV is expensive and largely pointless. It was Feline Leukemia and Cat Flu that he’d been inoculated against. The test itself for FIV was not cheap. I had to sanitise my hands, and she had to sterilise everything he’d touched because it’s so contagious. Maybe he was born with it. Maybe it was the result of a fight. Maybe he’s had it before we got them or maybe it’s a recent thing. It’s so sad. At least with Tilly, she doesn’t go out without me and I don’t have 36 hours where she’s not in my company. Dogs aren’t such a worry as cats.
It makes me think of AIDS and HIV – how hard it must have been for those first sufferers in the days where treatment was hazy and inadequate. Maybe in 20 years there will be some treatment to stop cats like Foxy dying when they’re only 20 months old.
The vet also said unless I was going to get another cat to keep inside, I should wait awhile. If he did catch it round here, then someone is carrying it, and the same would only happen to another cat if I got one. It’s very sad. Tilly seems depressed. I’m devastated. Mr Fox was the best of cats and there will never be another one like him. Sure, I can replace him, but he was a beautiful, beautiful creature – and like Miss Saffy before him, I’m just sad I didn’t get to spend longer with him than I did. It makes me glad for the 14 years I had with Basil, and very, very glad for the company of Miss Silly Tilly, who is just a joy.
Goodnight, Mr Fox
Sleep well my gentle ginger boy
The world is a lesser place without you in it