Monday, 1 April 2013

Meet the family - Squeaky

Meet Squeaky, one of our 3 cats.

He came to live with us (well my parents, at the time) about 12 years ago.  A lady up the road from us had died, and we knew that she had a huge collection (I am thinking over a dozen)of feline companions.  What happened to all the others, I'm unsure.  But Squeaky (he tends not to meow but utter a shriek/squeak instead when he wants to make his presence known) started arriving on the doorstep.

A few feeds later, and he never left the house again.  Swiftly, he moved from outside, to inside, and to my knowledge has never left the boundary of our garden/house ever since.

He's a creature of habit, loves lap-cuddles, goes somewhat crazy over any toy containing cat-nip, and his one identifiable mark is his beauty spot - a little spot next to his nose.

Last November, Squeaky became poorly.  After a few trips to the vets, an ear infection/irritation was diagnosed, and we started a long road of different ear-washes / antibiotics and steroids, given in various doses and combinations.  All seemed to help a little, but none completely eradicated the problem.

Recently we knew that we only had one option left. It was the one that we had tried to avoid, in terms of his age (he's no spring chicken...she says, pointing out the obvious...given he's cat, but anyhoo).  When the day came, I was convinced he wouldn't be coming home again.  I said my goodbyes, and accepted, in the best way I could, that we had tried everything possible to make him better.

Much to all of our surprise and delight, Squeaky came home later that day! He had sailed through the surgery!  The relief was ENORMOUS.

We're many weeks down the line since then, and Squeaky had continued to do well. He hadn't looked back since his surgery; he was happier, more agile and generally much brighter in himself.  Ok, so as a result of his surgery cancer of a gland in his ear had been identified, but it was thought and hoped that this was in many inconsequential - if we could keep on top of his ear irritation/infections, then he may well outlive the cancer anyway.

And then, out of blue, last week he suddenly looked really old.  His face looked different; weary, almost.  And we suspected he'd lost weight.  We spoke to our lovely vet, and agreed that we'd bring him in in another couple of days if we were concerned.  I hoped, that because our other cat had been through similiar surgery, that I was simply being paranoid.

But here we are, a few more days later. Squeaky has lost a lot of weight, clearly.  Having refused his usual medication in his food, and not wanting to eat at all, we are now changing our tactics of abandoning his medication altogether, and simply encouraging him to eat anything he fancies.

It's not working... yesterday he climbed feebly into the open section of the tv cabinet, went to sleep, and has barely left there since.  He is wobbly, and frail.  On the positive, when from time to time (we're trying to get the balance between reassuring him we're here but not disturbing him too much) we post a hand into the cabinet, a little furry head responds, and purrs.

He's in no distress or discomfort to our knowledge.  But equally is too feeble now to make the trip to the vets which at the best of times upsets him incredibly.

We know, instinctively, where we are heading.... While our little furry guy remains comfortable, he will stay here at home, where he is always happiest.

I wanted to write this blog post, it suddenly feels imortant to tell you about how after our house fire, I didn't sleep well in the first few days.  It could've been because of all the emotional  over-load, but part of it for sure was because when I slept in the tiny caravan by the house, a certain furry person slept in my sleeping bag with me; only disturbing me when he felt it was breakfast time by batting me on the head with his paw.  It was a happy sleeplessness... he was a wonderful and constant companion during tough times.  I could tell you also how on New Years Eve this year, we sat down with our 3 children to play a game at one point, and Squeaky nudged his way into the ring as if to say "hey, my turn next".  There's so many tales to tell, and the one, heavy-hearted reality is that since Dad died, we have only ever been the "keepers" of Squeaky.  We love him, and I hope the feeling is mutual, but he was, and still is, always Dad's baby.  We have only ever been in loco-parentis.  Much as we love him.

While we're still in positive times, I also need to talk about our vet.  In my eyes, a vet is like a GP - often several in a practice, and after a few visits, you generally identify one who you feel is right for you.  From thereon, you don't visit another GP.  Our vet has been very much the same.  It's difficult to express how reassuring it has been during our many visits with Squeaky, to know always that he is treated with great knowledge, experience, professionalism and the care that comes from being a genuine cat-lover.  Her skills extend beyond this - as parents-in-loco we have been shown support, empathy, and always a much needed element of humour, too.  It's not just our vet who's been wonderful, her colleagues have been too.  It was with great relief, as I was checking Squeaky out from his operation, that as a couple of large dogs came into the surgery the receptionists beckoned me to pass Squeaks to them, to keep him from being worried.  On every level, I know that the minute any of our furry family enter the vets' surgery, their needs will be met.

I feel bad that Squeaky's first appearance in my blog is probably going to be his last, too.  But right now, he's here.  He's very much an important member of the family.  It just so happens that he's a furry member, and a very poorly furry member too.

Squeaky/Squeaks/Squeaky-Woo-Woo... I hope you have SO much more time with us....but if you don't, I hope you know how loved you are; how much your amazing vet has tried to help you..most of all right now I hope that whatever time there is to come for you is comfortable. X