In the dim and distant past when I first had a job, I used to get a lift to work with a friend. In return I would look after their family animals while they were away on holiday. This meant feeding and mucking out three or four rabbits and four guinea pigs which lived in a huge wooden hutch in the garden. He would ruefully remark to me at times that he wished the animals he had bought to teach the children about life and death would actually oblige. They must have had the longest living rabbits and guinea pigs I have known.
Fast forward thirty five years and the cats of my lap in the Alentejo shed are giving me a prime example.
First the hellos.
Torrega has had her kittens; three were too weak to survive longer than about 36 hours. Two have made it thus far, a little ginger tom who we are calling Mr B until the real life Mr B comes to name him and a Tortoiseshell female who will be called “little witch” or Bruxinha in Portuguese and who has been claimed by our neighbour “M.”
Black Momma has also had her kitten — we could only find one — a little grey Tom called Nimbus. They are currently in an impossible place to photograph.
Mr P did manage to get Nimbus out to check on him and make sure he is OK — so I took a quick photo.
Now the goodbye.
Fleabag, who has been a fighter all his life, lost what was to be his final battle in the early hours of yesterday morning. We had found him listless and unresponsive the previous day and rushed him to the vet. The vet was superb; they saw us straight away despite it being lunchtime. He was given a thorough check over and the first indications were that he had been poisoned. He was given injections to protect and support his liver and kidneys and a heavy-duty broad spectrum antibiotic.
At this stage his heartbeat was strong, and we were told we could take him home so long as we fed him special fluids and liquid food every two hours AND reported any changes in his condition and checked and reported his bodily functions. There was one indicator that gave her real cause for concern, one of his pupils; the one in the right eye was not reacting to bright light.
So we brought him home wrapped him up warm and started the two hourly rota of liquids. At first, he appeared to be responding well. We got little purrs whilst feeding him with the syringe and his feet were paddling our tummies and legs like he always used to do when he was settling down for a cuddle.
We found out his bladder was still fully functional and promptly rang the vet — no there is no blood, it’s a bit strong, but with all the medications that was to be expected. At her suggestion, we fed him the last time around 2.00 am before going to bed – he took his water fine but could not swallow the liquid food. He changed position after we laid him down into leaping position — or take-off, launch position, rather than curled up in a ball — I think even then he was reaching for the stars. Sometime in the early hours he reached his final destination.
Yesterday, we buried him under his favourite orange tree, wrapped in his best blanket with his special toys.
There is a huge hole in my heart; there is an empty space in the house, Infinity is confused because she can no longer find him and Shadow stood on guard by his graveside for hours.
My bedroom windowsill is empty.
My one consolation is that we did everything we could, and that he did not suffer in any way.
R.I.P Fleabag — Happy Hunting.