Saturday, September 26, 2015

In Memory of Daisy

It was winter. In the cellar of a house on the edge of an east Scanian (Skåne) village a young cat appeared. She seemed to be in reasonably good health: good body condition, not bedraggled or injured, but her tummy was upset. There was no collar on her and no other markings to indicate where she might have come from.

The family in whose house she had appeared had her scanned for a microchip, but there was none. They advertised for a found cat, but no one came forward to claim her as being lost. In the end, the family kept her and named her Daisy.

From her brown colourpoint looks and the way she'd go floppy when lifted up, they surmised she was a Ragdoll. Why would a pedigree cat go missing and no one come forward for her?

After being found, they discovered she hadn't been neutered - one of the incumbent cats of the house got her pregnant. Five kittens in total, but one of them died. They were all beautiful, a mix of Ragdoll and Oriental (black Siamese). Apparently no one thought to take any pictures of them.

The first time I met Daisy was in late November 2002, when I spent a weekend over at my friend's house. The two brothers of the house, Wizzard (the black Oriental mentioned above) and Gizmo (a one-toothed Siamese whose purr sounded just like a two-stroke engine), were fairly quick to say hello and ask for cuddles, but Daisy was a bit more reserved.

The first photo I ever took of her, November 2002.


This friend had three indoor cats and a number of ones that lived outdoors. Oh, how I wanted to have a cat too.

Come spring/summer one of the stable cats of that household gave birth to kittens, and I was supposed to have one of them. Sadly, they were all found dead, because nature is sometimes not very kind. On the other hand, the family were considering downsizing and they were looking after this cat that wasn't even theirs, so maybe someone could adopt her? There I was, in want of a cat and the kitten plan had just fallen through. Perhaps I might consider Daisy instead? How could I not?!

On Sunday 23 June 2003 she went into a travel crate without fuss (!) and we travelled across Scania, on a bus, to the west coast where I was living and studying at the time. The journey was quiet, but I spoke to her often to reassure her that she was in safe hands.



She settled into her new place rather quickly, and took to sharing a pillow with me in bed. The local vet checked her over to see that she was healthy and gave her a vaccination shot and so my life as cat-owned begun. Sure, it wasn't always easy. Hairballs were a new experience. A female cat in heat meant very little sleep for about a week (she managed to be in heat twice that summer before I could get her to the vet to have her neutered). One of my flatmates first thought she was the most beautiful cat she had ever seen ... and then decided to resent her to the point where she locked her out on the balcony without water or shade (luckily not for very long) and threatened to dump her on the street. I had to keep Daisy locked inside my room when I left for college every day to ensure that my flatmate couldn't get to her, and so on. Fun times.

My parents weren't sold on the idea of me having a pet either. Mum's first word of advice was to not get too attached to her, because "you know how sad you got when [our pet rabbit] died" (I was 12 and completely devastated). Thanks, Mum. That's not how these things work. Dad had never been a fan of cats, and Daisy was no exception ... at first. You can only resist those blue eyes and that incredibly bushy tail for so long ...



In November that year I was going back home for a couple of weeks to do work experience at a local radio station. After that, it would be another couple of weeks back at college and then a two-week Christmas break at home, followed by three weeks at college and then my courses finished and I would be moving back home again. Going backwards and forwards so much sounded a bit stressful for a cat, so I asked my mum if Daisy could stay with them while I went back to college so she wouldn't be stressed out from all the travelling. (Two hours by train and one hour by bus each way.) They said it was fine, so I went back to Båstad alone. I missed Daisy's company terribly when I was away for those few weeks, but my mum was pleased to have someone to look after.

At the end of January 2004 I moved back home again. By this time I had started to talk to an English guy online and I'm not even sure how we came to the decision that I would move over to the UK, but that became the plan eventually. It was a package deal, though - if he wanted me, he would also get a cat. He was okay with this, and even asked me to marry him a few months later. :)

When going through all the requirements for moving a pet to another country I first thought I would be able to move us both at the same time, but as it turned out, this was not the case. You had to wait six months after a rabies vaccination to move a pet to avoid quarantine, and I hadn't factored in that you needed TWO vaccinations with one month between them, and then you had to wait another month before a blood test to confirm antibodies could be taken. Due to a miscalculation I thought we'd both be due to fly out in October, or thereabouts, but she had to wait several extra months.



I left Sweden in October 2004, with Daisy remaining with my parents being treated like a princess. My fiancé and I went to Sweden for Christmas that year, and having to leave Daisy again was very hard. I remember standing in the living room holding her in my arms and crying. For once she didn't try to get away (her usual strategy if I was crying and wanted a hug). Apparently it was hard on her too.

As I didn't want to move her just because she was "my cat" - if she preferred to instead become my parents' cat, that would have been hard, but it would have been okay - I wanted to do a course in animal communication. The one I tried to organise in Nottingham fell through, but as a consolation price I got a phone session with the animal communicator who would have been teaching the course in question. Amongst other things, he specifically mentioned the incident at Christmas, and that it had been hard for her. She felt the bond between us two was stronger than the bond she had to my parents, and she wouldn't mind the big move in order to be with me, despite explaining that it required her being put on an airplane and so on. She was asked if she wanted a sedative for the journey but replied that she would prefer to be "herself".

First photo of Daisy in England, taken as she was looking around the house.


At the end of March 2005 my parents went to the airport outside Gothenburg and put her on the plane and we picked her up at Heathrow some hours later. (Trying to find the animal arrivals building was a nightmare!) In the car, I took her out of the cage and tried having her on my lap, which she was okay with for about 30 seconds. The entire journey up to Nottingham was spent quietly in the footwell by my feet. Once we were home and she was free to explore her new territory, she did a round to see where everything was and then helped herself to some food. Family who came to visit the following day were surprised to see how relaxed and settled she was - "it's as if she's always been here" - which also put to rest any worries they had that we were doing the wrong thing in bringing her over.

Many happy years passed. The only thing to note health-wise were a couple of eye infections and once when she got fleas. From December 2012 she had to put up with sharing her territory with two young male cats, and while it's safe to say they were never really friends, at least they tolerated each other for the most part. Except when they brought home fleas and the flea treatment stopped working and she got slightly anemic, poor thing.



Daisy had been prone to the occasional cough previously, which was usually noted during annual vet visits, but nothing to cause concern. At times during the summer of 2014 she seemed to have more of a cough and occasionally her breathing would appear more pronounced. It wasn't constant, though, and it passed fairly quickly. As her standard attitude to me freaking out over nothing was "oh for goodness sake, not this again; CALM DOWN" I wasn't too concerned, and she seemed normal in other ways. Sure, her face had started to get a few grey specks to remind me that she was no spring chicken anymore, but there didn't seem to be anything so wrong that it couldn't wait until her annual check-up that autumn.

On the morning of Tuesday 23 September 2014 I hadn't seen her around anywhere, which was odd, but sometimes she liked her privacy so I wasn't particularly worried. Around noon I had to rush her to the vet because I found her with her hind legs paralysed. The vet said she had a blood clot and the prognosis was poor. There was a slim chance they might be able to get the blood clot cleared up at the hospital, but there would be no saying when she might have another one, as they are usually a side effect of something else. We decided to give her a chance, so they rushed her to the hospital. To go from having a seemingly healthy old cat one day to a potentially dead cat the next was an utter shock and I spent most of that afternoon (and evening) crying my eyes out.

As it turned out, while investigating the cause of the blood clot, they discovered that she had a heart problem (something like a part of the valve had hardened or something, I'm not 100% sure because it was all a bit of a blur) and late stage lung cancer. Unfortunately with cats they tend to not show signs of anything being wrong with them until it's much too late to do anything about it. There was no particular cause for either problem - just the luck of the draw. If the blood clot hadn't happened, we might have only had her for another couple of months.

5 September 2014, the last photo I took of her.


Had she been able to recover from the blood clot (her age and newly discovered heart problem meant that an amputation was out of the question - and that was before they discovered she had cancer), she could have lived out those months at home, but it was not to be. While they could feel a faint pulse in one of the hind legs on the Thursday, she almost didn't make it through the final night. They had tried to ease up on the diuretic (to see if we'd be able to take her home if her legs contined to improve) but insteada they got very close to phoning us up in the middle of the night so we could come over and say our goodbyes, but they put her back on the drugs and gave her oxygen, and she pulled through.

We drove over to the hospital every day to see her. At times she got sick of us cuddling her and tried to wriggle away, but it showed there was fight still in her. On the Friday she kept entirely still for the first time since being hospitalised, and actually looked like she was ready to go. We decided it was time to say goodbye, because while she had survived this night, she might not live through another.

Surprisingly, it wasn't that hard a decision to make - it was as if she had made it for us already.

We stroked her beautifully soft fur as she drew her final breaths in this life, telling her how much we loved her. It was one year ago today, 26 September 2014.

We still miss her, even though she could be a right grumpy (and scratchy) lady, but she was also the fluffball who shared my pillow (occasionally acting as a fur hat), and who would jump up on my lap and decide it was time for a prolonged cuddle whenever I was on the toilet, and so on.

Daisy was a character, that's for sure. She managed to train my cat-hating dad into perhaps not being a cat-lover but at least someone who'd willingly provide a friendly lap to sit on and get a cuddle (this continued when their neighbour's cat would come over and see them), and that's an achievement, to say the least. She moved from Skåne-Tranås to Båstad to Stenungsund and then all the way to Nottingham, and then moved again across town a few years later, and yet we have no idea where she came from originally or why she ended up in my friend's cellar.



You could say she had quite the life for a surprisingly small Ragdoll cat (she was about half the size of an average Ragdoll), but she knew how much she was loved from the first moment she called me hers, and never wanted for anything. I was not her first human, but she was my first cat, and despite my mum's advice, of course I became attached to her - she was my little girl - and yes, losing Daisy was incredibly painful. But we had over eleven great years together, and goodness knows how old she truly was (she was three at the very least when I got her), but she had a good life and we're happy to have had the privilege to share it with her.

R.I.P. my love. Vi ses i Nangijala.

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