Jonathan & Denise: The day’s been overcast, dreary and wet, and we’re glad to be home from a trip to Benbecula. Fleece jackets are returned to the row of coat hooks in the hall – still flecked with cat hairs from our visit to the vets. We would have brushed the hairs away … but for the fact they’re Molly’s, and there’ll never, ever be any more of them. We’ve laid her in her basket by the Aga, for the other cats to find and to acknowledge.
Molly was born in Brockton, Shropshire, 10 July 1995 – during a thunderstorm. A few weeks later we saw an ad in the Shropshire Star … Denise and the girls came home with Molly and her sister Meg.
Chalk and cheese! Molly was always the ‘superior’ of the two – and knew it: physically bigger, stronger, with a thicker more richly coloured coat, a self-confidence and what might be called presence. Meg couldn’t compete with her sister on physical attributes, but made good by acquiring social skills that endeared her to her human friends … but the weaker constitution and made her vulnerable to disease, and in 2009 – at age 14, she died of kidney failure.
Molly, too, developed kidney problems, but – unlike Meg – seemed to find a way to cope, though at times seeming as if she was at death’s door. Her strength of constitution – not to mention her character – saw her through again and again, and she continued to enjoy life to the full. As other younger cats joined our family – Pickle just a few weeks after Meg’s passing, then Dusky and the others – Molly’s self-assurance was challenged by the sheer cheekiness of the newcomers. It took her a long time to come to terms with the upstarts, but in time they learned to respect her age and dignity, and her to acknowledge that … well, that they were good company, lighting up her increasingly quiet life. Tabatha – if not the youngest, certainly the smallest – was no threat to Molly’s status as ‘Senior Cat’ ; and Tabatha in turn found in Molly’s company a refuge from the bullying of her peers. Winter evenings, Molly and Tabatha would settle down together on the settee, enjoying the warmth of the fire. Occasionally, Pickle – jealous of their privileged place beside Denise, would squeeze in!
Over the past two years or so, Molly became increasingly frail and needing constant encouragement to eat enough. But just a week or so ago, Molly’s health took a very sudden turn for the worse. Her appetite had not been good for a long time, but now she could no longer be tempted with delicacies such as salmon, or ham – or even sponge pudding with custard (yes, really!). Some old favourites returned – tuna, tinned cat foods, cat biscuits, but only a little. Very little. Already painfully thin, she lost weight rapidly, and was increasingly struggling to walk in a straight line. In the past week she lost sight in one eye, and started sneezing blood clots. Yet she continued to take herself to the litter tray, to her water and food bowls, and would routinely climb the stairs to spend a few hours in the office or our bedroom. Yesterday, and the day before – for the first time since last autumn, she suddenly decided to go for a walk around the garden, visiting all the greenhouses, and touring all the paths. We found her asleep under the tomatoes in Greenhouse Four.
And yet … last night, just before bed-time, we found her asleep in her basket with blood drooling from her mouth … and she seemed to have suffered a stroke. We stayed up with her late into the night …
This morning she was more perky … but it wasn’t going to get any better, was it? And we didn’t want it to get any worse.
Molly has been with us, day after day, longer even than our own two daughters. She’s been a big part of our lives and we’ve grown to both love and respect her. We will never forget how much she has meant to us!