‘Approach with caution & treat with care’
As a pet owner, you are always aware of your animal’s mortality, you know they won’t live as long as us, however nothing can really prepare you for the day they leave you.
Many of you will know my cat Dee as I post numerous photos of her around the internet. I got Dee when she was 8 weeks old, and she has been my dear friend and companion for the past 16 and half years. Last Thursday, 4th September, I had to say goodbye to her, and it was the saddest day of my life.
Luckily I have never had to face real grief before. My mum and dad are still with me, I have no brothers or sisters, and my friends are all in good health, so losing Dee was really my first experience of losing someone so close to me. Yes I have had pets in the past but these have always really been my mum’s animals and as much as I was upset when they died, losing Dee was a lot more personal.
(Dee as a kitten 16 years ago)
For most of her long life Dee had been in great health, just the yearly trip to the vets to get her booster. However, a year or so ago she gained a thyroid problem. She had lost a lot of weight and we found out this was the cause. With tablets, the problem seemed to be sorted. Then came the kidney problem which we kept monitoring and the trips to the vets became more frequent. When Dexter came along Dee wasn’t herself. At first she was scared of Dexter and seemed to keep her distance from us more than normal. A few weeks went by and I was convinced she had become depressed and out of sorts. Her breathing became very strained so I took her to the vets. It turned out she had a heart disease. She was kept in as a matter of life or death but luckily she pulled through. She returned home with a concoction of tablets for Nik and I to give her and over the next couple of weeks with, a lot of TLC and constant monitoring she seemed to perk up. Last Wednesday she was booked in for another heart scan to see how she had been getting on since her last scare. I took her at 9am with the intention of leaving her there for the day. However, I got a phone call from the vets at lunch time to say that they had found a problem with her lungs which meant they needed to keep her in. To say I was worried was an understatement but I knew she was in good hands.
The next morning I rang for an update and it seemed that Dee had had a good night and was responding to the treatment. A couple of hours later I got the phone call that no pet owner wants to receive. Some more tests had revealed a tumour in her heart and Dee had taken a turn for the worst. The vets informed me that she was increasingly poorly and was now in quite a bit of pain. With all the will in the world there wasn’t much more they could do for her so they advised I came in within the hour to say goodbye.
It’s amazing how level-headed you become when faced with an emergency. Getting myself to the vets while finding someone to look after Dexter just seemed to happen and I have my good family to thank for that. Nik was over 2 hours away with work so couldn’t get back in time. When I got to the vets Dee was no longer her normal self, she was completely out of sorts. She was breathing through an oxygen mask and had tubes coming out of her side. I knew it was time to say goodbye. The vets had done everything they could for her and as hard as it was the decision had been made.
Seeing your pet in pain is such a hard thing. The vet reassured me that nothing more could be done for Dee and it was much kinder to let her go. So on 4th September at 12.30pm Dee died in my arms and I said goodbye.
(Dee all grown up)
Going home to an empty house was hard. For the first two hours it didn’t really hit me and then suddenly I just couldn’t stop crying. I cried and cried and cried some more. The thing I had been dreading for the past few years had happened.
A few days on and the house seems so empty. I still can’t bring myself to clear her stuff away; the litter tray and numerous boxes are still scattered around the house, her cat food is in the fridge and her blanket is still on the sofa. I know I need to clear them away but leaving them there makes me feel that she is still around.
I got Dee because at the time I worked from home and I wanted a pet to keep me company. Something she has done for the past 16 years. She has followed me from house, to flat and now to the house I live in in Sheffield. She has seen men come and go, friends, jobs, new careers. Whatever happened, Dee was always there. She was the one I talked to every day, the one constant in my life, the one that I could always turn to for comfort, to cuddle and just be with.
Now she has gone I just can’t believe I will never see her again. I miss her so much. I feel like part of me is missing. Those of you who don’t have pets won’t get it, I may sound like a crazy person, but I loved Dee so very very much. I know in time it will get easier – time is a healer as they say – but for now I feel like someone has ripped my heart out.
Dee is at peace now, that I can be sure of. She is in kitty heaven bossing all the other cats about, swishing her tail and finding the best cardboard box to sleep in. She will have a big pile of bubble wrap and tissue paper with her and no doubt a big pile of chicken.
Those of you who have pets – go and give them a big hug. Never take them for granted and make sure they know you love them. The time we have with them is precious and I will cherish the time I had with Dee. She had a good life and was thoroughly spoiled and I’m so pleased I had the chance to spend the last 16 years with her.
(The first photo I took of Dee, she was 8 weeks old)
(The last photo I took of Dee a week before she died)
Dee I love you, and I always will. My munchkin, my princess, my small face, my fluff ball…….You will always have a place in my heart, I miss you dearly.