Sunday, 18 June 2017

Phoebe and Beatrice RIP

Beatrice and Phoebe Cuddled Up on Bed 19-2-06

Beatrice and Phoebe, February 2006

We are feeling very sad at the moment. In the space of three short weeks, we have lost both our beloved kitties.

On 23rd May, Phoebe, the younger of the two, had to be put to sleep.

Phoebe in Fruit Basket 10 Mar 04

Phoebe, March 2004, 9 months old

She had been suffering from bowel cancer for a while, and we’d been keeping a close eye on her. She had been doing pretty well, and managing to eat, with occasional episodes of vomiting. For the final few days, however, she was not eating at all, and was very subdued and obviously not herself, and we knew that the time had come. My hubby took her on that Tuesday afternoon and brought her little body back and buried it at the top of the garden. She was a month short of 14.

She had been very well for most of her life, but after we moved here 3 years ago, she developed epilepsy and had numerous severe grand mal seizures until the vet finally managed to stabilise her, and in the past year she had only two, about 4 months apart. She took her medication readily, a few drops on her food twice a day, and she was under regular observation at the vet for liver and kidney function, and was pretty well, until she started to vomit. The vet examined her and found a mass which she determined to be a cancerous growth in her bowel.

Beatrice, our older cat, had not been enjoying good health for a long time. For many years she had suffered from various food intolerances, being sick if she ate regular cat food, so since that time she had been having Hill’s Prescription Diet food which we bought online for her – latterly the variety was changed from the one for delicate gastro-intestinal systems to one designed also to protect her bladder health. She was getting recurrent UTIs, necessitating  repeated doses of antibiotics, until the vet said that in view of her age, it wouldn’t do her any harm to be maintained permanently on a low dose antibiotic, and this certainly did the trick. The vet told us that eventually this would cease to be effective and that damage would occur to her kidneys, but in the end the treatment gave her several more years of happy and full life.

Beatrice on Hippo Bottle

Beatrice on my hot water bottle, November 2003

She was a sensitive little soul and was easily upset by changes to her life and routine. When I first came out of hospital after my cancer surgery, she wouldn’t come near me and was obviously distressed. All we could think was that somehow I smelt different to her, with an ileostomy bag. Gradually she got used to it and was back to normal by the time I started my chemo a couple of months later, at which point she freaked out again and gave me a wide berth. At this time she began losing the fur from her hindquarters, and the vet said since there was no evidence of skin disease or allergy, this was over-grooming due to stress, and asked my hubby if anything had changed at home. He told her that his wife had just started her chemotherapy, and the vet said that this was the cause. We tried Feliway plug-ins (a cat-like synthetic pheromone which calms nervous cats) but to no avail. It was months after I finished my chemo that the fur started to grow back.

In recent weeks, Beatrice’s back legs started to get really wobbly and she would fall over, and be unable to jump up (using my poor hubby’s legs like tree trunks, climbing up onto his lap, with claws!) and the vet said she thought she had a compressed disc in her spine which was causing some nerve problems. There was some associated incontinence with this too. One Sunday morning I was due to sing in church and had left my stuff out overnight in order to have a final practice before setting out, and she had peed in my guitar case! My hubby told me she had led him to it when he first got up, as if to say, “Sorry – I had an accident!”

Both kitties being on different medications, and eating different foods, they had to be fed separately, with Beatrice being shut in the downstairs loo – and sometimes getting forgotten for several hours, poor little thing! – however, she never bore a grudge but was just happy and grateful to be released. Life was complicated as they got older and started eating little and often, and there was no way we could go away and leave them in the care of even the most sympathetic and caring neighbour (they had never been in a cattery) because you can’t expect them to hang around all day!

Just after we moved here we got both of them MOT’d by the vet, who discovered a lump on the back of Beatrice’s neck, which she said should be removed, and it might be cancerous. It was quite a major operation for her, leaving a wound several inches long, and she’d had to cut deep to remove it all, but it proved to be benign, much to our relief. The vet told my hubby to get her a T-shirt to wear, to stop her scratching it, but she was a very small cat and everything was going to be too big. Eventually he went to Mothercare and the assistant told him they often get requests like this, and she produced a babygro for a premature baby girl which fitted perfectly. It also had a little frilly skirt on it, and she looked so cute in it! She was as good as gold and never tried to pull it off. When she was getting better, she looked so funny climbing up the apple tree and onto the roof of the summerhouse, like a little tomboy in a frilly dress.

Post-Op Beatrice 1 - 13-02-14

Beatrice in her frilly dress, February 2014

The two kitties were never that close. They were not related. We got Beatrice and her sister Bella in 2000, and before Bella’s second birthday she was killed on the road outside our house, and I broke my heart over that – she was the sweetest kitty and I loved her to bits. Beatrice went into mourning and sat by the cat flap for two days waiting for her to come in, which broke me up even more. Eventually she became accustomed to her absence, but it was hard. They were very close, and would snuggle up together and Bella used to wash her sister – Beatrice has always been the Alpha Cat in the family!

Beatrice and Bella on Scratching Post Autumn 2000

Beatrice and Bella, September 2000, aged about 8 weeks old – little balls of fluff

Bella and Beattrice Falling Out of Kitty Bed Autumn 2000

Bella and Beatrice, Autumn 2000 – two loving sisters

To keep her company after Bella’s death, we got two new kittens, Phoebe and Chloe, born in 2013. Not a success to begin with – Beatrice hated them!

Chloe & Phoebe on Kitchen Chair 1 Dec 03

Phoebe and Chloe, December 2013, about 6 months old

Eventually, after about a year, she accepted them and they all got on fine. A few years down the line, Chloe, who was the most beautiful cat we had ever had, was also killed on the road, so we were left with the two, unrelated, three years apart in age.

Chloe on Bed Exposing Everything 5 Aug 05

Chloe relaxing on the bed, August 2005 – Modesty? What’s that?

Phoebe and Chloe Vignette 2-7-04

My favourite photo of Phoebe and Chloe, July 2004

When Phoebe died, we were surprised at the depth of Beatrice’s grief over her because they were not so close. She sat for days by the back door, looking out, wondering where Phoebe was. There was a place in the corner of the lawn under the little hedge, where Phoebe always liked to sleep, and Beatrice never went there, but after Phoebe’s death, she spent most of her days there, and at night, on the patch on the landing carpet that had also been a favourite sleeping place of Phoebe’s. It was almost as if she was deliberately invading Phoebe’s special places, in the hope that Phoebe would come back to claim them.

During this time Beatrice was very subdued and quite unlike her usual self. She was unsettled, refused cuddles a lot of the time, and started not eating. My hubby took her to the vet and she gave her some liquid medicine that smelt like marmite, to build her up and ease the constipation she was suffering, but she refused it, and then eventually, last weekend, refused food altogether. By Wednesday she was painfully thin and weak, and in a bad way. It was as if she had given up the will to live. My hubby took her to the vet and again brought back a little body to be buried beside Phoebe at the top of the garden. She spent her last day lying on the warm path in the sun, just as Phoebe did on her last day.

Beatrice's Last Day 14-6-17

Beatrice’s last day, 14th June 2017

Since then the house has felt empty and dead. We are missing them dreadfully. We knew we would probably lose them both this year, given their age and general state of health, but had no idea they would both be gone in the space of three weeks.

My hubby has been particularly affected by the loss of Beatrice as those two were joined at the heart. When we went to collect Beatrice and Bella from the place where they were born, we went through the cottage to the French doors at the back which led to the walled garden where the kittens were outside playing, and as we crossed the room, this little fluffy grey bumble bee waddled across the floor and straight into my hubby’s arms, and into his heart, and neither of them ever looked back. All through her life, if she was sitting on my lap and he came in, she’d be straight off me and onto him! I could have been jealous, but one look at the two of them, and how could I be?

Beatrice Cuddling with Daddy 11 May 10

Joined at the heart, May 2010

Phoebe loved him too, and often he would sit with two kitties on him, and I would have none!

One on Each Knee Sept 14

Daddy always the favourite, September 2014

Beatrice was the most intelligent cat we have ever had. She was very communicative, and always had to be at the centre of the action. If anyone came, she had to be there, centre of attention, and would engage in attention-seeking behaviour if she thought we were too involved in conversation with each other and not with her! She had the most winsome ways and even non-cat people loved Beatrice. Where we used to live, when a neighbour started feeding them when we went away, she left a note to say “little blue-collar has stolen my heart.” She had this effect on people. The vets all loved her too.

She was always into things, and the most nosey of all the kitties we have had. She was banned from my studio because she always had to rummage through everything, and pull things out, and she could be quite destructive! When she was younger and had her full set of teeth, she was always doing what we called “chewdling” – she chewed cardboard, important correspondence of my hubby’s, cables (discouraged in the strongest possible terms!) and a series of collars – even the so-called “indestructible” ones! She was a great hunter in her youth and her favourite was bunnies. We had a lot of bunnies where we used to live, in the country, and we were treated to a succession of gory half-eaten corpses with the guts hanging out and then, because she couldn’t restrain herself and would attempt to eat her weight in bunny flesh, heaps of sicked up bunny too… and she generally did it when we had visitors. (Sorry, probably TMI!)

She was also the Computer Queen of the family. She was always on one or other of our laptops.

Beatrice on Laptop 16-12-04

She was very computer-literate and came up with stuff like this:

Beatrice's Typing 5 Logging On

Attempting to log on, January 2011 – what was her password, I wonder?

Beatrice's Typing 7 Working in Word 6 Feb 11

Helping me with my Bible study group preparation, February 2011

Beatrice's Typing - Run Menu

Running programmes, April 2013

Beatrice's Typing 6 File Sharing

File sharing, January 2011 – she could do this before I learnt how to do it!

Beatrice's Typing 8 Help and Adjust Col Settings

Adjusting my settings, May 2011

We never knew what we’d find when we came back and she’d been having a session on the computer. I would find music or videos playing, word documents full of what looked like gobbledegook to me but were probably quite sensible kitty-language stuff… My greatest fear was that she would discover my Paypal password and run up huge bills, buying expensive stuff for herself and Phoebe on Ebay…

Phoebe, by contrast, was a simple little soul and she had no interest in computers, despite Beatrice’s efforts to teach her (she also wanted to start some online computer courses for cats but I drew the line at that). We used to call Phoebe our little Devon Dumpling in her chubby years – there is a pub we go to in Torquay called the Devon Dumpling and we always call it Phoebe’s Pub!

Fat Phoebe in the Hammock

Devon Dumpling, July 2010

Phoebe’s name means “radiant brightness” but unfortunately she didn’t live up to it. She was slow to learn the cat flap and it took her quite a long time to relate to us and build a relationship with us. She was the runt of the litter and lagged behind Chloe in everything, and was extremely timid and never spoke, all the time we had Chloe, but after that she started to blossom. Prior to moving here, if anyone visited, she would disappear upstairs, but after she got used to Mum in the house, she  realised that other people apart from my hubby and me were OK, and she became very friendly and relaxed with everyone. She also found her voice and would communicate with us quite a bit, with a sweet, high-pitched attempt at a miaow. She was adorable with her affectionate little ways, and the fact that she remained like a little child, and for most of her life, she would bury her face under my hubby’s arm, looking for milk, and would suck a finger if you offered it.

Beatrice’s name means “Blessed” and it was often used in the context of “That blessed cat!!” when she had done something particularly naughty!

We have 14 and 17 years of happy memories, respectively, of two beautiful, happy, affectionate and loving kitties who gave us endless entertainment value and joy, and for this we shall be endlessly thankful. Once the sharpness of their loss has passed, this is what we will remember.

We are now busy looking for two new baby sisters to lavish our love on. So far, no joy – we are trawling the Internet and putting out feelers to everyone we know. We are hoping for grey, or silver tabbies; we love these pretty cats who also have lovely temperaments. They will have a good life with us.

5 comments:

  1. I am so sorry to hear your loss, keeping you in my thoughts. I also have a Phoebe, a bichon and she is close to my heart.

    hugs from France, Joanne

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  2. I'm so sorry Shoshi! I'm crying and laughing at the same time - you made me chuckle with Beatrice's antics. What a lovely, heartfelt tribute to all four of your kitties. They all have their own personalities and they're all so different from one another, which is why you will never be able to replace them - all you can do is fill the hole in heart with some new kitty love. Those fur babies are already out there somewhere, I know, not realising just how lucky they are! xx

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  3. So very sad Shoshi but at least both your kitties had wonderful happy lives and were very well cared for - they couldn't have wished for more...

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  4. Those are beautiful photographs Shoshi. I don't know what it is with cats and computers though I suspect Maisie and Stan would do the same if they could jump up there like the cats, I'm sure they the machine gets too much attention! Look forward to seeing the new members of your family, they are out there waiting for you I'm sure. Take care, Angela xXx

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  5. So sad to read about the sudden loss of Beatrice. This post is wonderful. So many memories. Hope a pair of kittens arrive in your lives very soon. Ali x

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