Friday, 26 March 2010
Twelve years ago on a mild Spring Saturday lunchtime and Susan was standing in the street talking to Anne a neighbour when a scrawny cat with hardly any fur on her back and tail appeared. It was in such a state, Susan carried it into the house and gave it to me to look after as she was off to see her mother. I fed her, made a fuss of her, and cleared up her vomited after she'd gobbled down too much food in too short a time. She was also in heat. Within a week we'd had her neutered and de-flead -her condition was due to a flea allergy. When Anne first saw her she called her the ugliest cat she'd ever seen. I named her Bonnie. The vet thought she was about three years old.
She didn't like our other two cats, Lucy and BB, and spat at them and they soon learned to keep her distance. I sometimes called her Miss Hiss. She did like affection from us but generally for a short time, although the periods grew longer as she got older. Her dislike for other cats remained unabated and the others we gradually brought home a few years later all learned to keep a respectful distance as Bonnie only attacked if they got too close. Susan and I loved this scrawny idiosyncratic bundle and I confess she was my favourite.
About a year ago she started to lose some weight and I suspected she was on her way out but somehow she stabilised and carried on as usual, scaring the other cats and putting her paws on either side of my neck when I picked her up as if she was cuddling me. In early autumn last year, she started disappearing for days, often staying out overnight. Then, abruptly, she must have decided the weather had grown too cold for wandering as, until last week, she hardly left the house. And then she was off again.
This week, on Monday, she disappeared and didn't come back till Wednesday teatime, not long after Susan had knocked on some doors in the next streets whose gardens we were sure she'd been visiting. She disappeared under an armchair and stayed there, eating and drinking little, until this morning when she came out to lay in sunshine streaming through the windows. When Susan got back from our charity shop this lunchtime, she thought Bonnie's breathing seemed laboured so she got her an apointment with Honour at Vets4Pets late this afternoon.
Honour checked her out, x-rayed her chest and found a mass that was pushing Bonnie's lungs up against her spine so that she could hardly breathe. There was only one solution and so I held her as her breathing slowly subsided. Because we loved her so much we had to let her go.