If you have read my posts on this blog Saving Fatface and Saving Fatface Part 2 , you will be aware of my hopes of rescuing and adopting a black cat, a stray who regularly appeared in our garden during 2019. ‘Fatface’, so called because of his large cheeks, seemed to be homeless, appeared uncared for, and worse, seemed to have problems with his ears.
We fed him in the garden for months, trying to coax him nearer and nearer to the house. Finally, in early September, with the weather beginning to turn and my concern for his ear problem growing, we managed to trap him and get him to the local vet for treatment. Following 7 days at the vets to see if he would be claimed by an owner, we finally brought newly named ‘Morris’ home.
We thought it would be best to separate him from our other cats for the time being, so I kitted out our spare room as a ‘cat heaven’, with various beds, toys, blankets and scratching posts. Morris looked horrified at all my expensive efforts, and promptly took up residence under the dressing table.
I worried about him when we were out, so I also bought a a CCTV camera (the “Morris Cam”) so I could watch him wherever I was. Even with the camera, it was hard work that first week. Morris would dive for cover whenever Andy and I entered the room, wouldn’t touch toys or treats, and would only eat when we were out of the room. His ear didn’t seem to be getting any better either.
I sat in the room whenever I could and talked to him but he was sticking to his corner and I was worried that he was in pain with his ear.
Friends and family became used to me talking about him constantly, and I scoured the internet for advice. We tried Feliway diffusers and Zylkene to try and calm his anxiety, and decided to take him back to the vet for an update on his ear which didn’t seem to be healing. Getting him into the cat box was a scene straight out of an Eling comedy, but Andy eventually managed it, calming him by brushing him with an old hairbrush of mine – genius!
The vet suggested that she put him under anaesthetic to really clean out the ear and get some antibiotics in. However, when we went to pick him up, she told us that she had found a large mass in his ear. She couldn’t be certain of the cause, but had taken some samples and the results would be back in a couple of weeks.
We were concerned but not unduly worried as the vet seemed relatively optimistic and we were delighted when Morris started coming out of his shell over the next few days. He would quite happily spend hours being brushed, purring and head bumping and trying to get as close to me as he could. We discovered that Morris dribbled when he was happy, which was fine, until he combined that with a vigorous head shake. Spray everywhere!
By now, he was coming straight to me whenever I came into the room, and would purr and stretch his back as I stroked him. I could even pick him up and put him over my shoulder. But the cutest thing by far was his pedalling. He did it all the time! He had huge paws and was continually flexing and kneading them whenever he was being stroked. If I sat down he would hurl himself onto my lap and rub himself against my arms and body. If I stopped stroking him for a minute to answer an email or make a call, he would demand further attention. I didn’t get much work done for a couple of weeks. It amazed me that given he was a stray, and having presumably known minimal human contact, he would let me hold his paws and tickle his tummy, without a suggestion of a bite or scratch.
He got into a habit of waking up about 4 am and playing football with the little toys and balls we had bought him. He woke us up several nights and we could hear him from our room batting the balls from one end of the room to another.
But .. his ear was not getting better and I was aware that we had an upcoming appointment with the vet who would give us the results of the biopsy.
The morning of the vets appointment Morris seemed happy and was again loving and purring and pedalling with his paws. I held him for a long time that morning. Perhaps I knew what was coming.
As soon as I saw the vets face, I knew that the results weren’t good. She told me he had aggressive cancer in both ears and it was spreading. The mass has grown again and she was concerned about his pain levels going forward. We talked about some options, but I knew in my heart there weren’t really any, and there was only one decision for me to make.
I could hear her talking to me, but it felt like she speaking from a long way away as I stood there holding him and feeling him cling to me and purr in my ear. I knew what I had to do. I knew I had to be as strong as I could for both of us.
Emma the vet was wonderful, she sat me down, still holding Morris and gently explained how she would put him to sleep. I held him and stroked his beautiful soft fluffy head and talked to him softly, while the vet put the injection into his paw and he slowly slipped away, still purring.
My heart felt like it was breaking. I continued to hold him and cried my heart out while Emma talked to me and checked him for another few minutes until she was sure he had gone.
I rang Andy who came home to meet me and I took Morris up to his little room for the last time, while Andy prepared the garden for his burial. I wrapped him in his favourite blanket and we buried him at the spot where he used to wait for his food in the garden. I put all his balls and toys in with him. I was absolutely inconsolable.
How I miss him! It’s been 5 days now and this is the first day when I have felt anything like strong enough to write. As I write, I’m crying again.
Should I have had him put to sleep? Did I do it too soon? These questions would haunt me for the next few days, but Emma’s words also turned over in my mind about how much the mass had grown in the last two weeks alone and how she wasn’t sure that she could manage his pain going forward.
We didn’t have Morris very long, but what an amazing little character he was! This dear little stray, who had finally accepted his new home with us and had even started to come to love us. He never bit or scratched once and all he wanted was our love and attention. I just wish so much I could have given him longer. He was a beautiful soul and I shall never forget him. ❤️