Saturday, June 23, 2012

A Death in the Family

On June the 6th my beloved ginger cat, Mungo died at the Sydney Veterinary Teaching Hospital at Camperdown.  Mungo was, we think, a few weeks short of his 15th birthday, and while we had noticed that he was slowing down, the end, when it came, was very sudden.  He seemed slower than usual on Monday evening, but ate his breakfast on Tuesday morning.  However, when I came home - fortunately a bit early - on Tuesday afternoon, he was obviously unwell, and I took him to our vet.  They admitted him, and called at 8PM to say that he had a build up of fluid on his lungs, and that he should be transferred to the teaching hospital if we wanted him to have overnight care.

Steve and I collected Mungo, now with an intravenous drip bag attached, from our vet, and drove to the university.  The folks at the university did everything that they could, but when the pathology work came back on Wednesday afternoon, the diagnosis was carcinoma.  They called me just as my last webex of the day was ending, to tell me that there was nothing that they could do.  I called Steve, and we each made our way to the hospital to day good bye.  I took some cream, and Mungo was still well enough to lick a bit from my fingers: he always loved dairy products.

We were able to stroke him and talk to him, and then the attending vet injected the lethal dose into his intravenous line, and he was gone in a few seconds.  The autopsy report confirmed carcinoma, involving both lungs, which apparently explains some of problems that were treated earlier in the year.

We are both a bit shattered, and Percy, the surviving cat (aged about 14) is beginning to accept that Mungo is not coming back.  Percy has never been alone, and we are hoping that he will adapt: because he is so territorial (and violent), we are not keen to try to introduce another cat into the house - it would just traumatise everyone, including the new cat.

I've disposed of Mungo's favourite cardboard box (the latest of many), donated the special diet food that he will never eat to the vet, and notified everyone who knew him.  He had quite a fan club, for a cat.  Several people have sent me sympathy cards (I didn't know that there were sympathy cards for the loss of a pet), and I am getting into a routine that does not have Mungo in it.  Pets get so intertwined in your life, the hole that they leave seems enormous.

So now my gorgeous ginger fluffer is reduced to ashes, contained in a rather twee little urn adorned with a paw print motif.  We'll pick a sunny day one weekend, and scatter the ashes in the garden.  But I don't want to remember the tired old cat with an oxygen tube up his nose and an intravenous line in his foreleg.  I want to remember the happy kitten who would leap into the bathroom sink, to play with the water coming from the tap.  The regal ginger puss who liked to sit in the fork of the tree on the east side of the garden,

or go out onto the gallery above our family room, and stick his head through the railings. The cat who would wedge himself into a box, no matter how small.

The cat with no dignity

and a tendency to try to hide under furniture...

...if he could find anything big enough.

I adopted Mungo from the Animal Welfare League refuge in August of 1997.  He was named after Mungo Park, the 19th century Scottish explorer who was the first European to see the Niger River.

I shall miss him terribly.

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