H adopted me in the Czech Republic in 2001, when i moved into her place. I remember the first time i saw her she was sitting in a glass cabinet looking pissed off, a ball of hair, watching people watch television. I didn’t really have much with cats then but she seemed cool.
At first she ignored me, she was spending most of the time hiding out in the roof. But then TC went nuts and was carted off to the asylum, and her dickhead boyfriend RC was mistreating her and she came to me and asked for food. So i fed her. Then we were friends.
I remember very clearly when i fell in love with her. I was sitting next to the fire chatting to a flatmate and she sat on me. I became entranced and kept on saying how cute she was. Over the years i saw her choose to do this with other people too.
Soon after, in spring i guess, she became so fat we realised she must be pregnant. She gave birth to four incredibly beautiful kittens with me sitting beside her, she was totally freaked out and it was an intense experience for me as well to be there at the birth.
We gave the kittens away although i kept one, Yevgeny Sprotkin, who became another good friend (he died in Brighton in 2013).
H used to get up to quite a lot of mischief. There was the time half a whole cake got eaten in the night. Also we were able to track the disappearance of a pancake by the smeared jam traces it left behind as it was abducted. The trail led off the plate, across the tablecloth, down onto the floor, into the kitchen, up a whitewashed wall to the windowsill and out the window.
When we were gardening she used to follow us around. And when the kittens were ready to go outside she took them off to teach them how to pounce. The dad came by a few times too.
With a bit of love, H’s ball of fluff smoothed down. And one day she sat next to the music system pulling a lot of hair out of her tail for a new sleeker model.
When we got kicked out of the house finally, the 80 year old neighbour came out and asked us if it was our cat. “Oh” she said “I thought it was a stray, i’ve been giving her a bit of my dinner every day for years. Do you feed her?” This was the first time, but not the last, that i realised H had a big fanclub and lots of food options.
After the Czech village, we lived in 20+ places in three countries. H was always there, every day. Until recently she was climbing trees and killing mice.
I hope she had a good life. I was really happy to know her.
The end came fast, I came home and I knew something was wrong when i came home on sunday and she wasn’t at the gate shouting for dinner. I already knew things were wrong actually, i felt it and she hadn’t been eating for a few days.
We rushed her to the vet, who told us she was dying of chronic kidney disease. Apparently this is the biggest killer of older cats. She had all the symptoms, like not eating, expressing pain, looking unhappy, ammonia breath.
And to top it all the bloodtest said she should be dead already. The vet said it was time to euthanise but there was no way i was doing it then. H was still there, still alert.
We went home but sadly and inevitably her condition deteriorated. I realised she hadn’t really been eating for a week already and she didnt want to drink. My hair had gone weird the last few days and H was really trying to communicate. She showed me she couldn’t piss. Nothing going in, nothing going out. I think she had basically been preparing for death when i found her on sunday, but she perked up a bit to say goodbye.
We gave her a lot of love and heat and she told us she wasn’t doing well. When it got to the point that she couldn’t jump, then couldn’t move her tail, then couldnt move at all, i realised it was time for her to go. I have no problem with humans killing themselves but killing an animal is rough and needs to be assessed properly. At a certain point i was considering killing her myself but im glad i didnt. We went to the vet just to check if anything could be done, with the option there that if things were so bad, we could put her to sleep.
By this point H was a mess, still alert but really in pain and it kind of felt like she was a shell. This helps me a bit to contextualise it since im worried by putting her to sleep at the vet, i interfered with whatever process she needed to go through. But actually i think she was ready, and the body was simply still going, but her spirit of whatever had left.
We sat in the waiting room and said goodbye. The vet was really sweet and confirmed there was nothing left to do. Hloup died from the barbiturate overdose as graceful as ever. A little squeak and then she was gone.
As with sprot, it felt important to keep her body around for a few days to say goodbye. B said in her culture there’s 3 days for people to say goodbye to a dead human and that seems fitting somehow and good for closure.
As with sprot, i considered taxidermy, but ended up making a funeral pyre and burning the body. So now H is really gone. I miss her.
What a life she had. I wish her well.