After Minnie died last year I really didn’t imagine that I’d be back here again so soon…
In March last year we adopted Radley, a black and white tuxedo rescue cat from the RSPCA. He’d had a terrible time of it, being found with extensive chemical burns on his neck and back. Although the burns had healed, he had a lot of scarring and had developed behavioural and psychological problems as a result, to the point where he had now been with the RSPCA for two and a half years as he had been re-homed twice, but then brought back again as the people couldn’t handle his over-grooming and the level of care he needed.
But we didn’t care, as we both work from home we got to spend a lot of time with him and soon came to love and learned how to handle his eccentricities and slightly quirky ways. He soon became an integral part of the family and the kids loved him, and he loved the kids, spending hours curled up on their laps or play-fighting with them. After having been locked up for so long he now got to go out and come in as he pleased, any room was open to him as he chose, he got fed on demand and there was usually always some special tid-bit from the Deli counter waiting for him in the fridge.
He was loved and cherished.
Last Saturday morning there was the usual “scritchy scritchy” outside the bedroom door at about 05:00. He was let in, joined us on the bed and the three of us lay there, lazily snuggled up against each other, snoozing. At 07:00 I got up, made myself coffee and flicked on the TV. Radley wandered down to join me, I was watching “My Cat from Hell” and he sat upright on the foot stool with his tail curled around his paws, not moving and watching the screen intently for the next hour.
It was the first really warm, sunny day we’ve had this year so he spent the rest of the day out in his garden - his territory where he had faced down and chased out the neighbour cat when he first came to us last year - lying in his usual corner, sunning himself.
On Sunday we noticed something amiss, he was somehow a bit under the weather and off his food. We put this down to him just being a bit picky (as he was sometimes) and didn’t think more of it.
On Monday he was listless and lethargic and was sick behind the sofa. But we’d seen this before; with the compulsive over-grooming he would ingest a lot of fur, go off his food and be a bit depressed for a day or two, before then sicking it all up and then being back to his usual self.
But he didn’t improve, was increasingly miserable, lethargic and listless and kept retching with not much coming out. Tuesday afternoon I saw him retching in the garden before he went and hid up against a fence panel in a narrow gap behind the garage. I knew this to be a bad sign, Karen fetched him in, arranged to take him to the vet in the morning and spent the night cuddled up with him on the spare bed.
On Wednesday morning the vet was initially of the opinion that there might be some kind of internal blockage, but not having eaten or drunk anything since Saturday Radley was weak and dehydrated, so they would put him on a drip and take an X-ray later in the day.
Later on in the day we got the news that there was something visible on the X-ray in the abdominal area but they were not sure what, would we consent to an operation next day on the Thursday morning? In the evening we went in to see him, lying on a cushion and hooked up to a drip. He had been sedated and so was sleepy and a bit out of it, but looked comfortable enough. We talked to him and stroked him for a while and he seemed aware of our presence.
The vet showed us the X-ray and said they couldn’t tell exactly what the issue was yet, so we talked through some of the options and he said they had scheduled the surgery for first thing in the morning.
On the way out we stopped to say a tearful goodbye to Radley, this time he looked up alertly as we walked in and looked me directly in the eyes. I kissed him one last time on his forehead, gave him a scritchy behind the ears and under the chin, and we went home.
Next morning at 10:15 we got the call: he had massive pancreatic cancer and a cyst had burst, which what was making him so ill. It was inoperable and there were no further treatment options. Radley was put to sleep a few minutes later.
We are distraught. Our beloved boy is gone. The house is not the same, without Radley it no longer feels a home. His presence altered it fundamentally and makes his absence all the more palpable.
We will grieve, life will go on, there will be other kitties, but we will always cherish the memories of the black and white tuxedo cat with the initially aloof and imperious manner who touched our lives in so many ways and who we were able to give one last wonderful year of comfort and love that I hope in some way made up for the bad years he had experienced before.
Farewell dear Radley Cat, I will miss you.