Spot, the ginger tom cat, happened to come into the world on the 24th May 2007. May 24th is also my birthday and as far as I was concerned it was a ‘sign’ that I was supposed to have him! At least that is what I told my partner Paul when he came in from work to find a new ‘addition’ to the house.
Spot grew up to be a big soppy, loving, chatty cat who managed to twist all of us around his (big) paw and we all loved him dearly. We used to think he was more dog than cat and he used to do dog stuff like follow us round and flop right in the middle of the floor and expect us to walk round him. He was always happy and if he wasn’t purring he was chatting (meowing) all the time. He loved nothing more than flopping on our laps for cuddles and a fuss and boy oh boy could he pack his food away! He used to end up having fairly frequent baths as he had a real thing about hiding under cars and he would frequently come home with big patches of car oil on his fur! He was also a bit of a scrapper and occasionally had nicks and scratches where he’d obviously been fighting but he had never been ill in his life and he was full to the brim and even overflowing with a real zest for life.
One sunday evening in February this year I noticed he wasn’t interested in his food but considering he did this from time to time I wasn’t too worried. The next evening he still wasn’t eating and by this time I was more than a little concerned especially as all he wanted to do was sleep. We very carefully picked him up to see if he had hurt himself and noticed what looked like a bump kind of on his elbow. It looked a bit sore and we thought maybe he had knocked himself while he was out and was bruised and he had been licking it. We hadn’t noticed him limping though and we thought it must be a very recent injury and it had got infected. I managed to get him to eat a few mouthfuls of food and have a drink and I spent most of the night with him on the sofa very carefully cuddling him.
The next morning dawned and I called my boss and advised I would not be able to make it into work that day as I was taking Spot to the vets. I called the vets as soon as they opened and got an early appointment and Spot and I made our way over.
At the vets the initial diagnosis was an infection when the sore bump was and he was taken up for a quick test to see if it was infected. That came back negative and the vets suggested a biopsy to see if he had a tumour where the sore patch was. As this was going to take while I left him in their care at their suggestion and just ambled round for a bit while I waited for the phone call which I was sure was going to tell me he had a bit of an infection and after a course of antibiotics my beautiful Spot would be as right as rain.
A couple of hours later the phone call came, no tumour.. but as he was obviously very ill further tests were needed. The vet suggested testing for feline HIV and Feline leukaemia and at this point I seriously started to panic! I agree to the tests and was advised they would keep Spot in overnight and give him some fluids and medication and they would call me in the morning to advise me of the results.
At about 6-ish I missed a call from the vets as I couldn’t get to my phone fast enough and at that point my heart sank as I knew in my heart of hearts that the news wasn’t good. The vets had said they would call the following day but now they were calling me the same evening. I called back but by then my vet was seeing another patient and the nurse advised she would get the vet to call me back. About 20 minutes later the phone rang… My poor Spot had feline HIV and his body just couldn’t fight what the disease was doing to him. The test had shown all the things like white blood cell count, etc., were through the roof and my poor Spot was dying slowly and in distress and pain. The vet advised the kindest thing I could do was to have my beautiful cat put to sleep as there was nothing else they could do to help him.
Dinner was turned off and we drove straight over there. We went up to where Spot was being kept i nthe isolation ward and as soon as he saw us he meowed and started to purr. We spent a little time alone with him before the vet came back and still purring he quietly slipped away…
Feline HIV is more prevalent amongst tom cats which haven’t been neutered and chances are that is how my Spot contracted the illness. We had no idea at all he had it, he’d never been ill in his life and apart for the odd scrap there had never been anything wrong with him.
Losing Spot in this way has left a massive hole in all our lives and I still miss him and his funny ways terribly. He is still with me in my heart and in my thoughts as there is barely a day goes by when I don’t think about him.
You may be wondering while I’ve suddenly written this post about Spot.
For my birthday this year I was lucky enough to have a new kitten, Loki. Now Loki was thought to be a little girl but it soon became apparent that ‘she’ was in fact a ‘he’ and in some respects he is sooooo much like Spot. He is another quite chatty cat and he is definitely a lover of lots of fuss and cuddles. So while young Loki was at the vets this morning for his inoculations he was also booked in for ‘the snip’ in a few weeks. As we suspect Spot contracted feline HIV during a cat fight, chances are there is a HIV infected cat, or possibly more than one, in the area where we live and so I’m trying to reduce the urge to fight in Loki as much as I can. I really don’t think it is fair to keep a cat shut in for their whole life and so I’m going to do the best I can for young Loki. There isn’t an inoculation for feline HIV and there is no cure and while many cats do live to a ripe old age even though they have the illness unfortunately Spot’s time came way too early.
I found this poem today. I’ll readily admit I’m not a massive fan of poetry but this really touched something in me and I cried as my head filled with memories of Spot.
If it should be…..
If it should be that I grow frail and weak
And pain should keep me from my sleep
Then you must do what must be done
For this last battle can`t be won.
You will be sad, I understand,
Don`t let your grief then stay your hand
For this day, more than all the rest
Your love and friendship stands the test.
We`ve had so many happy years
What is to come can hold no fears.
Would you want me to suffer? So
When the time comes, please let me go.
Take me where my needs they`ll tend
Only stay with me until the end
And hold me firm and speak to me
Until my eyes no longer see.
I know in time that you will see
It is a kindness that you do to me
Although my tail it`s last has waved
From pain and suffering I have been saved
Do not grieve it should be you
Who must decide this thing to do.
We`ve been so close, we two these years
Don`t let your heart, hold any tears.