It seems a lifetime ago I took one of my cats to the vet and he ominously said he could feel a lump. He gave her about three weeks, and that was last July. Although the tumour has now swollen up so as to perch on her hip like a golf ball, I can’t say I’ve noticed a great deal of change in her: the decline is so gradual so as to make me forget she was ever anything but a hobbling bag of bones. To an outsider, it might seem very cruel to still have her around, but her increasing frailty never advances in stages extreme enough to make me feel I need to take decisive action, and to be honest as far as I can see she still seems to be having a whale of a time. It’s perhaps due to this almost imperceptible deterioration why I have been so caught off guard when her sister suddenly, in the course of a day, went from being fine to being on death’s door. I’ve become so used to being told my cat doesn't have long left that I’ve come to view her and her sister as a decrepit pair destined to shuffle around the house complaining indefinitely. But there can be no doubt now: even I can see one of my cats is quite clearly dying.
It’s typical of a cat that they fall desperately ill on the Saturday evening of a bank holiday weekend, meaning there is not a thing you can do for them until the vet opens his door on the Tuesday morning. I have found myself gradually shifting my behaviour these past two days in a way which means I spend less time in the same room as her, and I can’t help but wonder if this is slightly deliberate, albeit subconsciously: watching her slumped in the corner makes me feel both guilty and frustrated at how powerless I am to help, and quite frankly the smell of death is pretty rife and unpleasant. When men were men, I suppose this was one of the times when the garden shovel was put to use and the suffering, both hers and mine, could be put to a swift end, but not in these days of manbags, pink ties and hydrating face scrubs for him, where all that is left is for me to fanny about feeling guilty. My underdeveloped twenty-first century clubbing muscles would probably only cock it up anyway.
5 weeks ago