For over a week Dorothy our tabby cat seemed very badly out of sorts. She stopped eating, was keen to go outside but as soon as she did wanted back inside, her coat got mangy, her eyes appeared glazed and her voice had altered.
Reluctantly we decided she probably needed to be put down. We certainly did not want her to suffer. So this morning Anne, with assistance from Pat next door, put her in a cage and took her off to the vet.
He thinks she’s been in a fight or else had a bad fall. She was basically in good shape he believed. So she had a steroid shot, an antibiotic shot and was de-clawed. Anne brought her home and released her in my study. She came straight to me for a stroke. My stomach unrolled.
She’s 16 years old, a cat equivalent to my 75 years. She’s been part of my life for a long time now. We got her and her brother William when they were young kittens. They were named after the Wordsworth brother and sister. We had just returned from a visit to England and we had driven around the Lake Country. As the characters of the kittens developed it became obvious he whined a lot and she bustled around.
The first time we let them outside they quickly clambered up a manuka tree where they sat mewling plaintively as they swayed on its branches. At peril to my life and limb I rescued them but they promptly went up again. So I left them to climb and tumble down.
Over the years Dorothy assisted me garden. In my previous house I’d built a raised veggie bed. If I was sitting on the ledge she’d give me friendly bunts and advice. It took me a while to train her that her job was supervisory, not to meander across the seedlings nor to use that area as a toilet. She was not a slow learner but she did have stubborn tendencies.
One stormy night she really showed her intelligence. Anne woke me to say someone was knocking at the front door. ‘Only the wind’ I muttered. But no she was correct, so very tentatively I opened the door. In bounded Dorothy. My language was extremely unparliamentary. But next morning I discovered why she’d been hurling herself at the door. The cat-flap had jammed. I let in a drenched and dishevelled William.
We had to put William down about five years ago. Ever since then Dorothy has become even more faithful as Harvey's cat. Since we shifted here she’d slept on my bed every night, near my feet. When I go up to bed I get the anticipated bunt and a demand for a stroke. Last night I gave her an extra long stroke and said what I believed was goodbye to her. Now, she’s had a reprieve.
In talking about it last night we’d decided against a replacement. The apartment has no cat flap and no sensible place for one. This means one of us has to let her in and out of the house and during winter between rooms. With my health Anne has to feed the cat and take care of the kitty litter, and deal with any visits to the vet. Well, for this summer at least we’ll have Dorothy.