Even before our last update, Angel’s health has been on a little roller coaster ride, sometimes good, sometimes not. But on the whole, she was doing well for a cat with FiV. These two photos on 1 Oct, though not the best, are her last “good times” pictures.
We don’t update on her often, mostly because it is hard to update when it is bad news and there are no dignified photos of her to show. Every time she falls sick, it gets a bit harder for her to recover, and she looks that bit more worn even when she is in the pink.
Sometimes she just didn’t want company, and we respect that feeling under the weather as she must have been, she might be trying to work out why she got into these health swings. At such times, we leave her alone as she would have wanted to be.
But sometimes, it’s just because she’s too tired to ask for attention. So we do try a tentative uninvited head scritch. If she doesn’t reject our advances, we know it is an invitation to continue.
We are always carefully optimistic when Angel goes on her health swing. We hope she recovers, but we know there’ll always be that one where she won’t come back from. Her health swings are a downward spiral to the end and it does get difficult, knowing the scruffy one before us used to look like this.
Now she seem to shrink every time it happened, but her alert and bright eyes, her purring and her quiet, calm, dignified demeanor seem to be her way of reassuring us that she has made it back. The last time she made it back almost fully was a year ago, in October 2007. Since then, she just seemed to lose a bit more of her vitality despite recovering each time. Though she ended up giving a little bit more ground every time, Angel remained a fighter, taking every defeat in her stride.
Still we always hope when that final one came, it would be a short one so that she wouldn’t have to endure prolonged discomfort and pain.
Over the past days, Angel started on that final spiral. Yesterday morning, Foster Mum called to inform us that Angel would be leaving soon. We could not visit yesterday but rushed over early this morning.
Angel looked to be in a sorry state, shrunken to half her already shrunken size. Her tired body was really just skin stretched over bones, and there were huge swathes of bald patches over her body. There were large sores over her back, and her wet paws seemed to be oozing pus. She was drooling, her nose was runny, and she was wheezing loudly through the mucus blocking her air passage way. The cage she was in was covered with highly absorbent clinical-grade materials, to soak up the discharges oozing from her body and ensure she stayed dry and comfortable. Foster Mum said that the materials had been replaced 4 times in the last hour alone. Angel’s body was truly breaking down.
Despite the state her body was in, it was her eyes that really broke our hearts. Though covered by a wet yellow discharge, she opened them when we called and touched her. In those eyes we can see that same clear alertness that told us she was still here. The alertness in her somewhat rheumy eyes was in total contradiction to the reality of her physical body. We spoke quietly to her in turn, and told her it was all right to let go if she was ready, that she didn’t have to fight it this time if she felt too tired.
She was facing the wall when we first went in to look at her. But later, when we were outside the cattery, we looked in and saw that she had adjusted herself to face the window we were peeking in from. She seemed to have anticipated us and was looking at us expectantly. Looking at her then, I couldn’t help but feel even more starkly: what a wonderful companion she would have made someone, despite the brevity of her life. My only regret is that she had not the chance to be in a home situation, though the cattery is not a bad home for a cat by any stretch of the imagination.
The only one of her sponsors to have visited her also came by to say good bye in the early afternoon.
At 4.56pm today, Foster Mum called to inform us that Angel has passed on.
Frankly, Angel has always been the retiring type, more calm and reserved than outgoing though she enjoyed head scritches. Though we do not see her all the time, we do get the sense that she knew us. This was even more apparent today. Foster Mum and her helpers have said their goodbyes of course. But she seemed to have been waiting for us, minions and her visiting sponsor, to bide goodbye too.
Now we can only take comfort in the fact that her final journey was short and a relatively uneventful one.
Rest In Peace, dear Angel.
(Out of respect for Angel and to preserve her dignity in death, we did not take any photos of her today.)