Sometime during the night Columbo had some sort of a seizure. When he didn’t jump on my bed first thing this morning, I thought something might be wrong and when I got downstairs I found him in a state of total collapse in his basket. He was breathing, but cold to the touch. His eyes were open, but he clearly wasn’t seeing anything. His legs were twisted as if they had suddenly crumpled underneath him. Thinking it might be a hypoglycemic attack, I squirted into his mouth some of the syrup I keep for such emergencies. Normally this would cause a quick recovery, but although he did start moving he was clearly in a bad way, lying on one side with his back leg drawn up. I waited by his side for the recovery to come, but it didn’t. He just became more and more agitated, paddling his legs and crying in discomfort.
I got him to the vet’s and they checked his blood sugar, which was fine, suggesting that it wasn’t hypoglycemia behind the problem. They put him on oxygen, but as they checked him out he had another seizure. The vet said he had almost certainly had a stroke at home and then probably another one as they examined him. If that was the correct diagnosis, then his prognosis for recovery was very poor.
Given that, and the obvious fact that, although not fully conscious, he was clearly extremely distressed, I felt I had to take the decision to have him put to sleep (although I found great difficulty in saying the words). The vet was very kind, and gave us a few minutes alone. She said she was sure this was the right decision. I signed a consent form and when the time came he passed away quietly as I stroked him. My old friend was gone, the last of his lives used up.
I knew Columbo wasn’t going to live forever, but that didn’t make it any easier. I had hoped he would pass away peacefully at home, rather than on the vet’s table, but I don’t think he really knew much about what was going on during his last hours, so hopefully he didn’t suffer too much.
I’m not going to try to explain how much I’ll miss Columbo. Cat-lovers, especially those who met him, will understand. Others will just think I’m a sentimental old fool. It doesn’t matter. He’s been a part of me for over 17 years, in London, Nottingham and in Cardiff. He’s put up with me far longer than any human being ever has. And now he’s no more. The house seems dreadfully empty already.
If I don’t post much for a while, I hope you’ll understand why.Follow @telescoper