When an Ageing Pet Goes

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My Jasper turned nineteen earlier this month. For today I have moved my laptop upstairs to the dining room, where I can sit down to write, and now and then look over to where he is asleep in his basket. How do I write an elegy for a cat who has been a part of my life since he was a kitten just a few weeks old, found at the harbour of the Cape Town Foreshore, a kink already formed in his tail from some injury that had befallen him in those early weeks? I remember his first ever visit to my local vet shortly after I bought him home. She offered to straighten the tail, having assured me that it was not impacting on his health or mobility in any way, and it would be mainly for aesthetic reasons. I kept the kink; he had no doubt been through enough trauma to last him a while; and he still has it to this day. He was my companion in the small cottage where we lived in Bergvliet for a year, just the two of us, before piling onto a plane to Johannesburg along with all of my belongings to continue our lives there. (He went by plane to be exact: myself and my belongings took the scenic route by train from Cape Town to Joburg.) He continued to thrive and strive towards living all his nine lives as fully as possible, through a number of changes of address here in Joburg and including three ‘sisters’: a second cat and a little dog, both of whom he outlived, and then a hen who arrived unexpectedly to take up home in our garden before we found a more suitable home for her, and surviving a number of self-imposed adventures and minor accidents involving periods of absence- sometimes for several days and nights on the trot. Being a parent to cats, especially very adventurous and spirited ones as he was in his youth, has its challenges. His final home, where he has been for the past few years, has been with me and my husband and our beautiful garden that has offered him (and us) plenty of room to move and play and explore, and learn about creatures not commonly found in ‘normal’ gardens, such as scorpions, black widow spiders, small snakes, bats, garden birds flying into our house on occasion, an owl that flies in to visit from time to time, and a buzzard that we sometimes see circling the area before it comes in to settle in one of our trees for hours at a time. Even as recently as March 2020, just as we were settling down to heavy Lockdown restrictions, we underestimated the prowess of the then eighteen year old Jasper. At that stage he was already weakened by more than a touch of Dementia, losing his bearings very easily and becoming disorientated even within his familiar space. Unexpectedly, he wandered out of the property at around 6 o’clock one morning, and despite all our efforts throughout the rest of the day, was nowhere to be found. So when we went off to bed that night, still Jasper-less, it was with very heavy hearts. But he made it safely back! Despite the limitations of his old age, he was able to get back on to the property somewhere around midnight that same day, and I was awakened by the sound of him calling outside the bedroom window, asking to be let in. I suspect he was as happy and relieved as we were at his successful return. But today is different. Over the past two or three days he has weakened dramatically, and has stopped eating and taken barely any water. He walks slowly and with some difficulty over short distances in the house, mainly from his basket to some sunny spot on the porch, and to his water bowl, where he seems to have ‘forgotten’ how to drink and sometimes dips his paw in the water and then licks it. I am trying to help him by feeding him drops from a syringe which I dip into his bowl when I see him struggling. And I made The Big Call earlier today: I have phoned our vet and we have an appointment this afternoon to have him euthanised. There is just never the perfect time for these things, and yet a time has to be made, a decision has to be made. He has been a huge part of my life for nineteen years, and no other being (other than my parents and siblings while I was growing up) has been in my life for that long. This post is not meant to cover all the things I have learnt from him and describe just how precious he has been. Anybody who lives with a beloved pet knows already that we learn from them and that they are precious. This post is really just a short record of my life with him, and of his with me, and a way for me to thank him for bringing so much love and companionship to my life over all the years that we spent together. I love him and will miss him dearly, and I have no way of knowing how life is going to feel without him in my world. Thank you Jasper, for sharing this life with me. You are one of a kind ♥xxxx♥

 

 

18 thoughts on “When an Ageing Pet Goes

  1. gabychops 2021-01-19 / 12:16 pm

    Amanda, you are a special, kind, and truly wonderful person! I can understand your love for Jasper
    as animals make better friends than humans, in most cases.

    You wrote so beautifully about the life you two had together, that its memory will stay with me forever. Thank you.

    Joanna

    Liked by 2 people

    • amandAVN 2021-01-19 / 12:23 pm

      Thank you Joanna. I am replying through the tears here! Nothing really prepares you for these things, but it’s always good to know that someone understands x

      Liked by 1 person

      • gabychops 2021-01-19 / 1:14 pm

        I do. My blog was inspired by a wild creature whose love and friendship transformed my life and understanding of nature.

        Thank you.

        Joanna

        Liked by 1 person

      • amandAVN 2021-01-19 / 6:07 pm

        That’s beautiful. Thank you

        Like

  2. Content Catnip 2021-01-19 / 12:27 pm

    I loved your elegy to your beautiful and precious cat Jasper, you were lucky to have him but he was very lucky to be loved and spoiled by you all these years, take comfort that you have given him the best life and a happy fulfilled life for a cat. I’m sending lots of hugs from here 🤗 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • amandAVN 2021-01-19 / 6:01 pm

      He was loved… yes indeed! Thank you for your lovely comment, and for the supportive hugs xx 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Annette le Roux 2021-01-19 / 1:02 pm

    You and your sweet kink-tail kitty are in my thoughts all day today. Look out for his goodbye signs. Our Foxy sent so many after he left us!

    Liked by 1 person

    • amandAVN 2021-01-19 / 6:05 pm

      Thank you for your support my friend xx … and for that little reminder!

      Like

  4. Sheree 2021-01-19 / 1:12 pm

    What a lovely tribute to a dearly beloved pet. It must’ve been a very difficult decision to have Jasper put down.

    Liked by 1 person

    • amandAVN 2021-01-19 / 5:55 pm

      Thank you Sheree. It was indeed difficult. But some things just can’t be avoided 😦

      Liked by 1 person

  5. rozpicsnz 2021-01-19 / 9:58 pm

    Both my Jack Russell dogs – a litter pair – crossed the rainbow bridge in the last couple of years, after sixteen/seventeen years with us. They’re popped in the garden and surrounded by wildflowers now. I pause to chat to them regularly and let the tears flow freely. Huge hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. zelmare 2021-01-20 / 2:53 pm

    Awww, this is so sad… I’m sorry Amanda, it is amazing how part of our lives these furry darlings are. I’m sad for you and Jasper. Sterkte. ♥

    Liked by 1 person

    • amandAVN 2021-01-20 / 4:44 pm

      Indeed they are. Baie dankie Zel xx. It’s been a tough few days

      Liked by 1 person

  7. John Holton 2021-02-18 / 6:29 pm

    Sorry about your loss. Live with a cat for that many years, it really hurts to say goodbye. Been there a couple of times…

    Liked by 1 person

    • amandAVN 2021-02-18 / 7:47 pm

      Thank you. Yes it’s been tough. Exactly one month tomorrow. Sometimes you think you are getting used to it, then you arrive home and that little face is not there to greet you 😦 . But the memories will always be special

      Liked by 1 person

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