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Monday, July 28, 2008


1998 - 2008

Update: The results of some tests that had been done on his last visit to the vet came back yesterday. Apparently there was more wrong than just the infection, they think he might have had a brain tumour now, but would have had to do some more tests to be sure. They feel that explains the cause of the blown pupil. Perhaps he did lose his balance and fall, or perhaps he knew and chose his own destiny. Rhona continues to search but now maybe it's best she doesn't find what's left of him, for her sake. Thank you all for your kindness.

Sai-Loh (Cantonese for 'little brother') came into my life in 1998, when I visited the SPCA (Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) looking for a friend for Toffee, whom I got from the same place two years before. I had just about given up that day as none of the cats available for adoption, seemed the sort that would be a good pal for my Toffolo (one of his pet names).

As I was about to leave and come back another day, two big green eyes met mine. There was this lovely tortoiseshell cat looking up at me, from an area which was marked 'not for adoption'. I leaned down to read the card on this cat's cage and discovered why it wasn't up for adoption - the death knell was sounding and he was to be put down the next morning.

I found an attendant and asked about this 'Bess' and she told me that it was OK, they were just getting organised for the next morning. So off I went, proud owner of a cat saved from death row. Until I got to the desk to sign the paperwork and pay the adoption fee. I said: "You do realise this cat isn't a female cat?" After much examining of the nether region, it was decided that yes, indeed, this was a male cat named Bess. Not that there was much doubt on that score!

I was forbidden to take her, now him, home as it was very clear he'd not been neutered and their policy is that no animal leaves, capable of reproducing. I reluctantly left him behind that evening, they wouldn't even let me have him with a promise of returning for 'the operation' another day. So I asked for them to let me know as soon as he was ready to come home.

Two days later, I got the call and rushed in to get him. I was speaking with the assistant at the entrance to the recovery area and a moment letter heard this loud miaowing from the front of the room. He'd remembered my voice and was calling for me! This from a cat that hardly miaowed in his entire life (as I was to find out later). This little fellow had my heart right then, and forever more.

He was about a year old and had been on the street all his life, so he wasn't that comfortable being inside. But he adapted to life on the 34th floor. When he first came home, as night fell, he'd make his way up to the top of the highest point accessible to him (usually the top of the wardrobe in my bedroom) and all you'd see was that little face. He'd spend the night there, no doubt relying on his street sense to keep himself safe while he slept. Another street habit he had, and which I saw broken only on this last visit, was that he'd drink only from a running tap, never standing water.

When I first took him home, the vet said that with another male cat there, it would be a difficult transition and to keep them apart with a door between them for the first few days. Ha! He walked in the room, Toffolo loved him up and within 15 minutes they were sound asleep rolled up together, sharing Toffolo's bed. That's what they were like for the next nine years, inseparable.

He spent a year with me in Hong Kong before we all moved to Tenerife, where he spent another seven years with sunshine and clean air, most of it with my sister. He thrived and became a wonderful loving cat, once a few years of 'mad half-hours' was out of his system. He was actually capable of running around a room, along the walls, about five feet from the floor. We called it his 'wall of death' routine.

I visited every year, always wanting to see how my babes were doing and he was doing well. Except that during this last visit, I found that to not be the case. I posted about it here. It now seems that on Wednesday, my sister took him back to the vet and he was diagnosed again as having a bad infection in his mouth and head. More antibiotics were given and he was taken home. After dropping him at home, my sister then took the dogs out to the beach for a few hours and upon returning, found no sign of Sai-Loh. She searched and searched and nothing. He was nowhere in the apartment. She searched outside, nothing. Now she thinks he must have jumped onto the neighbour's sun awning and then onto a wall and away. Something he's not done in seven years.

Maybe he did, or maybe he fell and wandered off. Maybe he reverted to being a street cat and wanted to go away alone, to die after being sick for two weeks. Maybe, so many things. But one thing that is not a maybe, is that had she been taking better care of him, she'd have noticed he wasn't well and would most likely have caught the infection sooner. And she didn't tell me about all this until Saturday, three days after it happened, and as a sort of after-thought on an email about other things.

What hurts the most is knowing he probably suffered terribly during his last hours, his last days. And that he was a strong, healthy cat all his life and didn't deserve to go like this. He deserved better.

I'll always remember my silent, strong Sai-jai, my little street warrior. The tough kid who could put very large dogs in their place. Toffolo's precious buddy. A good cat, a good friend. He touched my heart, he touched my life.


Veracity said...

I'm so sorry hun... so sorry. Hugs from me...

Loving Annie said...

Poor valiant love... Cats are the best friends ever... So sorry --


Fusion said...

Sorry to hear that Fiona. Hopefully he found a peaceful place to lie and rest. I've heard that sick cats know when they're dying, and go off to find their "place". My wifes old cat did that years ago, just left and never came back.

Hugs to you.

sophie n said...

i'm so sorry to hear about your cat...

my thoughts are with you...

freebird said...

So sorry, Fiona. And so disturbing not knowing where he went. I suppose there's no possibility that he could turn up...?
Very sad.

Fiona said...

Thank you all for your kind words at this sad time. I can't bear to talk with my sister yet, I know words of blame will come out of me if I do.

I'm angry as well as sad, about it all, from start to finish.

I don't think so, FB, I believe he's gone. It's horrible not knowing exactly what happened and where he ended up and I just hope he didn't fall off (it's not high) then wander around a bit and get stuck or get caught by a dog. He's so used to having dogs around, he'd not have run away.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to hear this Fiona. Did you have to leave the cat with your sister?

Fiona said...

Hi Deb. Well, when I returned to HKG, I considered what to do. I'd taken the cats from HKG and it's a rough, long ride with transits and a trip of about 24 hours airport to airport. They had settled into a better lifestyle in Tenerife with more space and lots of fresh air. I didn't want to subject them to a reverse trip and back into a small apartment where I couldn't open the windows unless they were locked away in a room. I thought I took the best route for their own happiness. He had a good life, up until recently, when they became somewhat neglected. I'll have Toffee and Lupo back in about a year (quarantine issues) and quite frankly, I can't wait!

anna said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. I just hope he isn't suffering right now. Poor kitty. :(

~Tim said...

So sorry for your loss.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like he had a good life and I had forgotten you had written that he'd had a blown pupil, that's never good. He probably did take himself off to die quietly. I'm so sorry sweetie. It's so hard to lose a pet, they're our children, only nicer.

Jonas said...

I was hoping that Sai-Loh would have appeared by now. I know what it's like to have a cat fall ill and disappear into a dark nook to suffer patiently. I spent three days tearing my condo to pieces trying to find one of my cats (all were indoor cats), and finally did. She had squeezed into a corner in a kitchen cabinet behind an array of bottles and boxes....completely hidden from view. She died of respiratory illness a few days later despite the vet's best efforts.

She decided to meet her end with a great deal of dignity...no complaints. Cats and dogs are just like that.

I wish you solace, Fiona.

Fiona said...

Thank you Anna and Tim.

It's true Deb, that's how I've always felt about my little ones. I really thought I was giving them the best life by letting them stay where they were. But now I do wonder.

I'm so sorry to hear that about your poochi, Jonas. I just hope Sai-Loh didn't suffer too long and I do understand why they do this, but it does hurt those who are left behind wondering.

I hope that once the year is up and I can have Lupo and Toffee with me, that they are still able to be with me. I couldn't bear losing any more of my babes, especially Lupo, I have such a bond with him.


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