Blossom – the last post

Blossom was put to sleep this morning. It was the bleakest thing I’ve ever done.

She fell off a cliff on Tuesday morning. I’d been desperately sad all weekend trying to get her to eat. She’d eat a bit of tuna from my hand and then look at me as if to say “I know you want me to eat, but I’m just not up for it.” The sadness seemed to ooze from every corner of the flat as she faded, yet continued to be her lovely self.

On Monday I took her into the vet (if you are in west London, Paws Inc in Dawes Road, has the kindest and most compassionate staff I’ve ever seen) who thought it was worth giving her steroids. He thought the steroids would boost her appetite and have the added bonus of working on the tumour, and indeed when she came home she was absolutely great: she went straight to her dish and chowed down on some tuna, then proceeded to hold court with the friends who had come round to see me – and her, of course. I was elated, and went to bed with her purring next to me, thinking we’d turned a corner and that she might well get what the vet described as “three to six good months”.

On Tuesday morning, I heard her give out a loud meow about half an hour before I got up. I called her, then ignored it, as she often was pretty vocal in the morning. When I got up, I found her staggering, drooling, pawing at her mouth, trying to walk and obviously very frightened. I got dressed and took her straight round to the vet, fearing the very worst. Before we left I carried her round the flat saying goodbye to her sunny spots, cosy corners, favourite nooks, the garden, the sofas, the bed; all her places. I knew she wasn’t coming home.

I thought we’d probably have to put her to sleep there and then as she was in a bad way, stunned by whatever had happened to her, frightened and holding her head very oddly. The vet thought she’d had a stroke or that the cancer had got into her brain: I thought she’d had a stroke too, but he asked me to leave her with them.

She spent the last two days of her life on a drip. I didn’t see her on Tuesday or Wednesday: bastarding work. Simon, the vet, says she perked up last night, that she was sitting up and purring and engaging with him and I so wish I’d seen that.

When I went in with John this morning, though, it was absolutely clear that she’d come to the end. Something awful had happened to her in the night and she just lay on the table. She knew, I think, that John and I were there, but she barely responded to our voices. In the end she just slipped away without any fuss, so peacefully. I’d been very frightened about watching her die and in fact there was nothing to be scared of – if anything, it was a relief. The vet was sad, too – he’d spent a lot of time with her and he had really thought she was rallying and would be able to come home for a bit this morning.

I miss her. I miss her desperately. I keep seeing her out of the corner of my eye. I keep looking in the places I always found her: on the white sofa, on the blue sofa, on the bed. I keep expecting her to come in through the catflap with a cheery chirp. There is a huge Blossom-shaped hole in my flat and in my heart.

A classic Blossom moment - she slept in the oddest places

A classic Blossom moment - she slept in the oddest places

More on Blossom

Blossom is still at the vet, where I took her yesterday morning after she crashed badly. We had been on Monday evening for a steroids jab, which the vet hoped would stimulate her appetite, and indeed when we got home she was noticeably brighter and went straight to her dish and chowed down on some tuna.

Not that she hadn’t been quite bright throughout the past difficult few days since she’d been diagnosed with the tumour: the most heartbreaking thing of all has been the fact that she’s been absolutely herself, but fading gently as she was eating so little. The vet was optimistic that the steroids would give her a boost and that if she responded, she’d have “three to six” good months left.

However, yesterday morning it all went horribly wrong. When I got up, she could barely stand, was staggering, drooling, pawing at her mouth and holding her head very strangely, and clearly very frightened. I rushed her round to the vet, whose first thought was that she’d had a stroke or that the cancer had got into her brain.

Later in the day it transpired that her potassium levels, which were low anyway, had fallen and he thought that that could well have produced the terrifying and distressing symptoms. She seems to have picked up a bit on the drip and she’s eaten a bit, but this evening I am not confident that she’s going to be coming home with me tomorrow. The vet says that she’s ok in herself, her temperature and colour is good and that she seems to be all there, but she’s not very interested in food: she might be “turning her little nose to the wall”.

Yesterday before I took her to the vet I carried her around the flat saying goodbye to the bed, the sofas, the sunny spots, the garden, the cosy corners. I am getting used to the idea, but my heart is shredded at the thought of losing her.

Update on Blossom

She’s not improving; she’s fading, and it is breaking my heart. She’ll have a few bites of the cod I am poaching for her in milk and a few chicken treats, but I can see that she’s getting weak and she’s so thin.

She’s not in pain, which I suppose is a good thing, but if she were the situation would be more clear-cut: I would have her put to sleep. I think I will have to do that this week anyway because she’s eating so little. Soon she won’t have the energy to purr and to chat to me. Her meow is still there, but it’s quieter. I keep hoping her appetite will revive and she’ll eat something a bit more substantial and so turn a corner, but it’s not going to happen.

Just as I think I’m getting used to the idea of her going it hits me again how very much I don’t want to lose her.

More on SBS and some link love

I’ve had the server up and running for a while now and it’s mostly great. However, I’m finding some random issues with emails occasionally being delayed, and emails from a couple of private mailing lists I’m subscribed to sometimes get held up or just don’t arrive, which I’d like to nail down.

On the latter, I was wondering if was to do with draconian spam filtering – I want to be able to see what’s being rejected rather than just trusting the spam filter. A quick Google took me back to a fantastic resource that I’ve used before: David Overton’s blogs. He’s employed by Microsoft and blogs on assorted Microsoft products, from Vista to enterprise software and includes some incredibly helpful walkthroughs of issues he’s solved.

Lo and behold, there was a walkthrough on how to change the spam filtering defaults and how to define a mailbox for quarantined email.

I’ve just set it up – I’ll keep you posted on how it works and whether it solves my niggle about emails from the lists not being delivered.

Blossom – an update

Took Blossom to the vet this morning and the vet gave her a good lookover and we talked about how she’d been recently. He thought he felt a mass around her stomach, so I left her with them for an x-ray and blood tests.

The flat felt very empty without her during the afternoon – even when she’s asleep I know she’s around. Which tells me that when she goes, I will definitely get another cat.

However, we’re not there yet, fortunately. The news isn’t great: she has a tumour in her liver/spleen area. The vet said they’d need to do a scan to work out whether it’s on her liver or her spleen, but I don’t think there’s much point in nailing that down as the vet and I agreed that what we should focus on is her quality of life. The good news is that it isn’t in her chest at all and the vet said he thought she’d withstand an operation, but he agreed with me that there’s not much point putting an 18-year-old cat through an operation. Clearly, if she were younger or if it would buy her another five years, I’d do it, but nothing is going to buy her another five years and I just don’t want to inflict the stress, pain and fear of an operation on her.

So she’s got some special food and has had some drugs that should spark off her appetite and certainly since she’s been home she’s been much more interested in food. Which is great – if she eats normally until the tumour starts making her life much more difficult, then we can have some good time together.

She was very wiped when she came home, though – she’d been given a very heavy-duty cocktail of valium and ketamine for the xray, and was pretty much out of it when I picked her up. When she got home she started coming to and has been staggering around a bit. The drugs have been wearing off all evening and she’s just (at 11.30) started purring, which is hugely reassuring, but I’m not surprised she’s trashed: I’ve seen humans on ketamine, and she’s a 3kg cat.

I don’t think she’s got much time left, but with care she should I hope have a good remainder of her life. When it starts going irreparably downhill, we’ll make the final trip to the vet, but I hope to have her with me for a bit longer.

Mad cat lady

Forgive me for a bit of self-indulgence, but I am worried about Blossom, my 18-year-old moggy. She’s not eating much and has lost a bit of weight. She’s turning up her nose at cat food and is showing only a passing interest in biscuits, though she has just cheered me up by having a few laps of milk and by scoffing a couple of bits of raw chicken.

She’s fine in herself: still perky, chatty and engaged, but when a cat is 18 and stops eating, you’ve got to worry. I’m due a day off on Wednesday and if she hasn’t regained a bit of appetite by then, it’s off to the vet. But I’m rather dreading that: while it’s possible that she’s just got a bit of a bug, it’s more likely that something’s really not right with her, and I just don’t want to hear it.