Critter’s snoring was a source of much humour in our house. He really could drown out the TV, but rather than wake him it was possible to move his head ever so slightly and so ease his breathing without breaking his slumber. Over the last week Katharine and I would have done anything to hear snoring that loud again. It would almost certainly have led me to take up podcasting. The little beast had been going whole nights without sleep. That’s hard for anyone, but he needed around seventeen hours a day. He was totally exhausted.
First thing Monday saw him hospitalised after blood tests ruled out the meningioma or heart condition, but failed to pinpoint the cause of his illness. So a trip to Liverpool University’s Animal Hospital for a scan to be followed by surgery in Cambridge was off. By Tuesday evening we’d ruled out leukaemia and a host of other stuff, whittling it down to Feline Infectious Peritonitis or Granulomatous Meningoencephalomyelitis. In the first case, he’d have no hope, but in the second the odds were sixty-forty in his favour. It would take a week for the FIP test to come back from Glasgow, but given that a positive would be untreatable we medicated as if Critter had GME anyway.
That treatment began in hospital on Tuesday morning and he responded. But that night was tough and we doubled his dosage. Wednesday’s medication – his first at home – seemed to do something for him and I took him for a little walk outside, which calmed him enough to be put to bed and sleep: he even snored a little. At lunchtime he kept to his old routine, leaving our bed to find me in the study, announcing his presence in the doorway and then coming through to sit on my lap. (Normally my working would soon get too irritating for him, but this time I made extra time for him.)
Again Wednesday night was hard – but he did manage to give Katharine the nuzzled kiss that was just for her – and we tried the same routine on Thursday. Katharine and I were optimistic as I held an umbrella over Critter as he pottered about. But suddenly he was gone. Just as we were getting used to the idea of recovery being in sight we turned to see he’d fallen – he didn’t cry out – and was lying on his back by the fence to Chorlton Brook watching us. He couldn’t get up and the Critter I carried in was utterly depressed: he’d given up. A last trip to vet revealed further FIP symptoms.
Critter died at about 11.15am on 28 April 2005 (my thirty-sixth birthday). We’d made sure that he got any realistic chance, but there were no more and he was put to sleep in a way I’d choose for myself. I kissed his little head as the poison entered his bloodstream and he was gone. There’s no dignity in death and no one should be remembered for it. I’ll post a proper tribute, to remember what made him so very special, soon.