22 October 2012

Zeus: my big, strong boy

For those of you following my Twitter feed, you'll know that I've had a pretty rough time over the past few months with my cats Hagia and Zeus.  Hagia passed away in July and last week her brother Zeus lost his battle.  They were both about 17years old.

They were born in my parents' garden on 1 September 1995.  Zeus, the eldest of the litter was the most adventurous of the four.  My father first spied this little stripey kitten when tending the garden.  The grey kitten decided my father was the best thing since sliced bread and bounded out whenever my father went out to pick veggies or water the garden.  Soon Zeus (then called Sofia*), Scutterbotch, Groucho and Hagia moved in.  Scutterbotch and Groucho found homes; Zeus and Hagia stayed.

For almost 15 years Zeus was wary of me--there was no secret he preferred men to women, but I seemed to hold a special place of fear and distrust in this mackerel cat's mind.  He hissed, ran away and generally hid from my sight when I came near.

Four  years ago Mum's cat, Bean, became too rough and tumble.  This aggressiveness became too much to bear.  I'd talked to my parents about moving Zeus in with me (there's no way I'd bring Bean in...he'd simply beat up my poor little girl),  they were against it.  Then one night I received a call from my father asking me to take his sonny boy in.  It was a difficult decision for my dad.  Zeus and my father were two peas in a pod.

So in Zeus came.  Scared, alone, separated from his papa,

Within a few days he was given full run of the house.  It took a bit longer for him to get back in Hagia's good books...they'd been separated for a while and although she was willing to be friends with him immediately, Zeus hissed and growled so much she just went off him.  That would soon be rectified and for the next few years they'd pal around and chatter to one another.

Zeus still treated me as if he thought I was a huge, giant monster.  It didn't help that he developed diabetes and I had to chase him with a syringe of insulin.

In the past year my little mackerel cat's view of me shifted...I was no longer a scary person but someone who was almost okay.  Heck...I could scritch him!  He no longer cowered or hid.

Then Hagia fell ill and passed away.  Zeus' loneliness was so evident.  He simply did not leave my side.  Unfortunately, his health was also on the decline--his diabetes crept back and his kidneys stopped functioning properly.  Daily subcu was thrown into the mix. By the end, he was a shadow of his robust self, weighing about 1/3 of what he did in that photo above.

He spent the last two weeks of his life at the vet's.  I visited him every day, bringing in special people food treats (baked ham, roast beef and turkey) in hopes he'd eat something.  And pretty much every day he came up to me for a cuddle and a purr.  In the end, I had to make a decision...even with artificial stimulants, he wasn't producing enough red bloodcells on his own and his sugar levels kept elevating...and then he had a stroke or some other haemmorhagic episode...he held on until I'd returned from my client's that day.

Zeus purred and slurmed my hand.  It was the most response he'd offered in at least six hours.  We all knew it was a matter of time.

And as my vet said, "he doesn't deserve to die alone."

So I made the call.  He wasn't going to get better.  And I didn't want him to pass, like his sister, in the middle of the night without anyone there.  As he was injected I told him he would be with Hagia soon and they'd play with one another and he would be able to look after her.  He passed, with his head cradled by my hand, purring until the end.

Goodbye, Zeus, my big, strong boy.  You are missed.

jasmine I'm a quill for hire!

* When we first took them in, they were so small...this little grey stripey cat appeared to be a girl, so I named her Sofia...paired with sister Hagia.  The vet set us straight.  When I told my father this, he simply said "He needs a man's name.  His name is Zeus."  or something like that.



Anonymous said...

What a wonderful tribute. It is suddenly misty in here.

JS said...

So sorry for your loss. What a lovely tribute to an extraordinary cat!

Anonymous said...

agoodwinsmith from LJ by way of JN here. That is such a hard call to make - and even when it is absolutely the right call - it is still hard. Please accept my condolences on the loss of Zeus.

Gin said...

My friend, what a lovely commemoration of a wonderful character. I have never had one get to 17...but I can see why none of them wants to leave your gentle care.

Colin MacKenzie said...

A lovely tribute. Sorry about your loss. Think of all the good memories and, no doubt, photographs. Best wishes. @Colin1949