Last night, whilst we were sat in front of the fire recovering from the feast we had made to celebrate Chinese New Year, Ebb, our cat, quietly took himself upstairs to die. We found him not long after, in one of his safe places, in our son’s room.
Not wholly unexpected, he was suffering from the same heart problem that took his sister Flo, five years ago. We had hoped that although he had a heart murmur, that he would be spared and get a nice long cat life, but this winter his breathing got worse, sometimes he couldn’t settle, finding lying down too much and he would sit up and drop off like that, or prowl around looking for a place to sit where he would not feel breathless. Lately he had seemed a bit better, still breathing fast, but tucking into his normal food and doing his normal things.
Yesterday, whilst my son was at work, I decided to dedicate the whole day to making things and sorting supplies for my shop. I still did the animal rounds, and it was a lovely day and I encountered Ebb out hunting in the sunshine, and later he settled happily on my lap, glad to find me in the living room in the afternoon, unusually, and we had a companionable few hours, whilst I knitted.
It often seems to happen that they get better just before things take a turn for the worse.
When my older cat Willow died, it took a while for her to actually leave – it seemed that for some weeks I saw her out of the corner of my eye, or heard her step, or felt the weight of her at the foot of the bed. But Ebby is suddenly not here – and I miss him. I’m completely reconciled to the idea of him dying, in fact my first reaction was one of relief, we knew it was coming, we had been here before. But we were spared having to decide it was time, we were spared wondering what, if anything, we should do, and thankfully, we were spared having to go looking for him, possibly never finding him.
A good life and a fairly good, if early, ending. Oh yes, his death is easy to accept, but him not being here is a huge gap. I keep looking for him, but unlike Willow, I don’t think he is hanging around, instead he left his useless body behind and tore off to other adventures.
And now, for the first time in 23 years, we don’t have a cat. And it doesn’t feel right.