Sunday 25 August 2013

R.I.P Shelley Cat

Shelley Cat passed away this morning at 11:00.
Almost exactly one year ago -- on the stormy Saturday night before the August bank holiday -- my next door neighbours, who knew I already had a cat, brought me a stray cat that they had found in the street, asking if I could look after it.  I accepted, thinking that it would only be a few days until an owner was located.

The poor little thing was in a terrible state; half drowned and half starved.  I soon discovered that it was a she  (at least, she did not object to the female pronoun)  and she responded well to being towelled down, warmed in front of the woodburner and fed what seemed to be pack after pack of cat food.  I took her to the vet's to see if she was microchipped, but she was not.  I took a photograph of her and printed out leaflets, four to a page, asking "IS THIS YOUR CAT?" and giving my phone number; which I posted through letterboxes, and gave the local shops full-page versions to display in their windows.

But nobody seemed to want the little cat back.  I received just two phone calls; one from a person who had lost a cat but the description did not match; and one explaining how a cat looking like my picture had belonged to a woman whose boyfriend moved in with her, but the boyfriend had been horrible to the cat, kicked her, and one night "accidentally" left the back door open and she escaped

Realising that she might be with me for some time, I decided she needed a name.  So I called her Shelley because her mostly-black fur had brown, tortoiseshell-like patches.

Shelley suffered with hyperthyroidism; which meant that she could eat and eat food but just never put on any weight.  She was given medication for this, which allowed her to put on some weight and her general condition to improve.    I also had her microchipped, to proclaim to the whole world that THIS CAT BELONGS TO: JULIE MONTOYA, c/o MONTOYA MANSIONS. Tel. XXXXXXXXXXX. 

Then, about 6 weeks ago, she suddenly seemed to have lost her appetite, and would not eat the piece of ham in which I had concealed her Vidalta  (thyroid pill).  She seemed to want it, just not to be able to take it, and I rushed her to the vet's.  There was an abscess in her mouth and ulcers all over her tongue.  She was given an injection of a long-term antibiotic and prescribed Metacam to relieve the pain and enable her to eat again.

After about 2 weeks, Shelley seemed much better; but this turned out to be short-lived.  She was soon back to the vet's, where she was prescribed Nisamox  (amoxycillin -- artificial penicillin -- and clavulanic acid)  and also Vetergesic  (buprenorphine -- an opiate, prescribed to humans as Subutex), to be followed by more Metacam when the vetergesic ran out. 

One week ago, she was due to give a blood sample to measure her thyroid hormone level and make sure the Vidalta dosage was still doing its work; and they also ran some additional tests.  Shelley tested positive for feline calicivirus.  This is highly contagious.  Younger, fitter cats may well be asymptomatic; but if the patient's immune system is in any way compromised, then the cat is rendered vulnerable to secondary infection.  This is obviously what was happening to Shelley.

Yesterday, Shelley took another turn for the worse.  My partner and I made the decision that Shelley had suffered enough already.  She was already due to go to the vet's today anyway.  This time, it was to be a one way journey.  I signed the consent form. We stood there, gently stroking Shelley, and she purred as the fluid went in; then she became silent and fell asleep. Her breathing slowed, she fell down softly onto the table, and that was the end.

Goodbye, Shelley.  Rest in Peace.  I will miss her funny little mannerisms.  Her damaged back legs made her movements awkward, but she used to drag herself up onto the sofa or my bed using her front paws.  She used to meow loudly when she wanted to be fed.  And even although she had lived outdoors as a stray, she still preferred to go indoors to use a litter tray.

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