Our poor cat wasn't looking too good this morning. She still wasn't eating, she didn't seem to be able to get comfortable and her breathing was a bit odd. To cut a long story short, we decided I should take her to the emergency veterinary hospital, where the vet was able to confirm the presence of a large growth. Probably a pancreatic tumour.
The fact that the decision had pretty much been made for us did not make it any easier. I stayed with her throughout and whilst I am glad that I did, I sort of wish I hadn't as I don't think it is a memory that will disappear quickly.
First Born has taken the news remarkably well. Second Born is pretty upset. Husband and I are finding it a bit odd that we are now living in a cat-free household for the first time in about 21 years. The kitchen looks a bit bare without a cat bed and bowls of food. (And of course, all that hair blowing about. The vet asked me if I wanted some clippings of her hair to remember her by. I told her there were pounds of it blowing around in my kitchen.) There was no cat standing by today, waiting for me to finish dismembering the cooked chicken and hand over the little plateful of prize slimy bits that the humans in the family don't seem to appreciate.
We acquired Schieffer as a kitten in 1992, just after we returned from our honeymoon. She was feral - a rescue cat, born in a cardboard box factory in Broxburn. At the time we already had a grown cat, called Catface. Catface was slightly bemused by the new addition: it was small, grey, very scratchy and spitty and had a habit of running up the curtains and hanging there, swaying and plotting her next move. You can kind of see Catface's point. That said, Catface decided to treat her like any other stroppy youngster. She was taught how to behave and given a very thorough and not always gentle face washing several times a day.
Catface died years ago and Schieffer carried on, politely declining to be interested in the boys when they arrived, other than as a source of interesting goodies dropped on the floor. Later, she enjoyed their company more and Second Born in particular was very fond of her. He was often to be found stretched out on the kitchen floor, communing with his furry buddy.
Seventeen and a half is a good age for a cat to reach and I think she had a good life. We miss her already.