Yesterday my cat of sixteen years went to the Vet for the last time. The decision to put her down was made after months of watching her deteriorate before my eyes. The final few days of her life were hard. (We live a long way away from Vets, so finding one that was open and within driving distance that was not going to stress her out, were all part of the decision making process.)
She was given to me by my long dead Father. So my memories of her as a kitten are mixed with the final memories of my own Father. (Just before he lost his sanity and the cancer in his brain consumed him forever). So this was no ordinary cat.
Athene – was a British blue shorthair. She was her own cat, one that tolerated humans for what they could provide, and preferred a solitary existence. She did though seek me out when I had my own bouts with tumours. She was there when I collapsed on the bathroom floor from a bursting ovary, she was there when I came home from hospital after both operations to remove the masses that took my uterus and remaining ovary. She would seek me out when the rest of the house had fallen to sleep and I was struggling to sleep. We shared many moments in the quiet depths of the night, together, her presence helping me through the sleepless night sweats that plagued me in those early days.
She was there when I met the person I would later marry, she managed to wiggle her way into his heart through sheer standoffishness. Athene made him like cats. It was his lap she would deign to sit upon for over a decade. She tolerated (barely) our child, I knew she was mellowing when she would sit still long enough for a tentative toddler hand to pat her. She never raised a claw against him, or tried to sleep in his cradle she just let him be. She will always be his first cat.
Athene accepted the dog that was abandoned and we found. The sight of a large wolfhound trying to befriend her still makes me smile. Athene would have nothing to do with the dog, she was after all a solitary creature.
I miss her now, a day after she’s gone. On my nightly trips around the house seeking relief from my night sweats last night, she was not with me. Not giving me a quiet purr or a gentle head butt as I sat in the breeze of the backdoor. There is no Grey Ghost who would patrol the corridor and sit in my son’s bedroom guarding him.
She will be forever in our hearts.