It was back in July last year that Colette wrote me her first heartbroken email telling me that the love of her life, her beloved Sid, had had to be put down. What distressed her more than anything was that she felt she was in part to blame and she wanted me to issue a warning to other cat lovers about what she sees as the partial cause of his demise. So this tale has a message for all of us who own cats.
Now I know only too well that one of the terrible side-effects of grief and the remorse you undergo when your beloved animal suffers is that you find yourself torturing yourself with blame and doing that “if only” game. However Colette’s concern was that the dosage of Metacam, which was prescribed by her vet for Sid, was so great that it caused him complications. We will never know the truth for sure but some of her research on the web concerned her greatly and she pleads with all readers who might be dosing their own cats with Metacam to pay special attention to the levels that are administered.
Here is the brave old boy. And Colette’s very own story of him. There is a joyful follow up to this as you will see before her story ends.
My Wee Angel - Sid by Colette Frain
Well, where did it all begin? For as long as I care to remember, there has been one special “man” in my life. One who has been with me through thick and thin, never judgemental, always loving and ensured I kept my feet firmly on the ground.
It was 1991 and I was living in Scotland with my then partner whom I will call Fred. We lived in a tiny one-bed tenement in Paisley, which we shared with a beautiful long haired male cat called Gizmo. He was quite a moody little fellow (Gizmo not Fred!) and I suggested we find a little playmate for him to hopefully improve his mood and alleviate boredom.
So enter, Sid, a tiny eight week old bundle of fun, no bigger than the palm of my hand. It was love at first sight and I could not get enough of the wee fellow. He was obviously too young to be separated from his mother as he used to suckle on my t-shirt which meant I constantly bore a large wet patch on my shoulder . I worried as kitten food was far too rich for him and upon my vet’s instruction, he was brought up on scrambled eggs!
Sid soon settled into our little family, not without problems though. Fred thought it a good idea to let Sid have a bit of fresh air and promptly placed him on the bedroom windowsill so he could have a good breathe. Some time later, Sid now being nowhere that I could see, I started a frantic search. I should explain our flat was one floor up! All of a sudden, I heard tiny squeaks coming from outside the front door. The little man had fallen out of the window and duly made his way back up the stairs and was crying to come in! One life down …. Eight to go!
Fast forward seven years and my relationship was not to be. It broke my heart as I was unable to take Sid with me to my various lodgings and I asked a neighbour to keep a close eye on him. Shortly after this, I discovered from my neighbour that Sid, having been temporarily abandoned by my ex partner, was living in less than wonderful conditions. My new beau, let’s call him Cedric, could see how upset I was and so he and a friend set up a plan of action. And so began Operation-Kitnap.
Well to say it ran less than smoothly would be an understatement. The cardboard box the kitnappers attempted to place Sam in was hopelessly inadequate. Sid was not at all happy and proceeded to dive out from the box, on to the dashboard of their vehicle, whilst making his feelings very clear he did not appreciate two strange men messing with him in this way.
Cedric and his accomplice arrived at the hotel where I was working, flustered and unable to continue their journey. Fortunately I had got with me an activity centre, which I’d bought as a welcome to your new home present for Sid. I got into the car, calmed the little cat down and then placed him gently into the wooden box, firmly shutting the lid. Cedric, who was watching all this, quietly observed: “If Sid can get out of that, he is blimmin Houdini!”
As the years passed – and with another failed relationship behind me - I decided to move back home to Lancashire. So after packing up all my belongings into the back of a transit van, Sid and I ventured on to the next stage of our life together.
It was now 2004 and I believed it was time to introduce a new member to the family. Along came Florence. Sid being the man about town was particularly “chilled out “ during their first meeting, however Florence had other ideas and displayed considerable “cattitude”, which quite upset and her new roommate. However it was not long before a bond formed between them and it was good to see Sid had a new friend.
In 2006 I took Sid to the vet’s for a routine check up. They commented on how his teeth could do with descaling as he had a build up of tartar. I was concerned at the risks of his undergoing a general anaesthetic as he was 15 years old and I was aware that it can always be dangerous for cats and especially older cats. As there seemed to be no other problems I decided not to have it done.
Approximately one year on I noticed Sid seemed to be constantly dribbling and pushing his tongue out. I decided to return to the vets and each week they attempted to look into his mouth without success as they said it was too painful for him. They continued to prescribe steroids and antibiotics. After around 3 weeks I was becoming increasingly upset as he had still received no diagnosis. After a lot of messing around and having contacted the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, Sid was finally seen by the practice manager and having undergone various tests was diagnosed with feline calcivirus (FCV) something that I had been saying I thought he might have for some weeks, having researched the mucus discharge he had been having around one of his eyes.
Sid then went on to have 10 of his teeth removed which, with hindsight, I might have prevented had I allowed the cleaning of his teeth earlier. It was terrible watching him undergo so much pain.
Following this treatment, Sid recovered remarkably well. He had a new found zest for life and was kitten like again and all went smoothly for a while.
I will never forget 4th November 2009 as long as I live. I was watching TV and I heard Sid go through the cat flap. Shortly after this , as per usual at this time of year, I could hear fireworks being set off. Instinct told me I should have kept the cat flap closed and I got up and went out into the streets to search for Sid. He was nowhere to be seen. 9 o’clock arrived and totally out of character he still was not back. 11 o’clock arrived, then 1 o’clock in the morning. I searched for Sid throughout the night and my heart sank.
The heavens opened up and the bleakest of nights turned into the most horrific day. My family came to support me and I broke my heart . If only I could find him no matter how bad it was, I could then grieve. It was the not-knowing that was torture.
At 1.30 pm the next day , my sister told me she had seen something dark in the road in the distance. I asked my mother if she could move her car so I could drive over to have a look. My mother told me not to torture myself as it wouldn’t be him. I had to go and look and proceeded to run out into the rain , onto the main road heading where my sister thought she had seen something.
Instinctively I called out to Sid and by a sheer miracle, I found him. Not in the end anywhere near where I was initially looking but a mere 20 yards away from my home. In the pouring rain, it looked as if someone just put him in a front garden. He had been missing 17 ½ hours. He called out to me and I ran into the garden , scooping him up in my arms. He was alive! Just! He was so soaked , you could see his skin through his fur. My sister and mother were watching through the window and could not believe I had found him.
It was obvious there was a reason he had not made it home. I brought him into the living room by the fire whilst drying him off with a towel. It was only when he attempted to stand up and his back leg gave way underneath him. He had been run over .
We rushed him to the vets and it was the longest night of my life waiting to find out how much damage had been done to him and if he would pull through. We were told he would either need to have the leg amputated or would need specialist treatment in the form of metal pins and plates in his leg.
The surgeon advised that in an animal of his age the latter would be the most suitable option. Sid was kept in for almost 2 weeks and after endless tests they finally performed the operation. With no pet insurance I found myself landed with a £2000 bill , but Sid was home.
In May 2010 however , he developed a limp and starting "knuckling" (ie walking over completely on his paw). His appetite went and I watched him lose a considerable amount of weight. My then vet prescribed Metacam . This was initially given to him after his major surgery and was re-prescribed now, but in a much higher dosage . I did question this and was told this was correct for a cat of his weight and was the best pain relief. I personally believe, after research I have undertaken, that Sid, who had gastrointestinal problems, should not have been prescribed Metacam and certainly not in the dosage he was given. Anyway he had a bad reaction and was twice admitted to the vet’s and kept in overnight on a drip.
His condition continued to deteriorate and on the 19th July 2010 , he once again was kept in overnight on a drip. The vet informed me that the blood vessels had burst at the back of his retina and he was losing his sight. Despite this , I convinced myself that as he was now a house cat he would be ok . I brought him home the next day and his look told me what I did not want to believe.
I lay next to him and told him “no more angel “. I knew the time had come to make the call.
On 21st July I made the call. I asked if the vet could come late evening to give me time to spend with Sid. As luck would have it , one hour later they called to advise they could not make the evening appointment and would be here within the hour. Sid deteriorated dramatically during this last hour. The vet arrived and I could not bear to watch another needle being inserted so I left the room. They gave him a sedative first and sent word that they were giving the second injection. I ran back into the room just as he passed away.
I have never experienced such grief and held him in my arms for moments afterwards. I was sent a beautiful poem ( see below ) which may help others come to terms with having to make the awful decision of euthanasia. Although it goes without saying I never wanted to be in that situation . I always wanted ( as everyone does ) for Sid to pass away peacefully in his sleep . This poem , as hard as it was , helped me realise that I was keeping my wee angel alive for my own ease of grief and not to ease his pain . He has been gone six months now and when he left he took a huge chunk of my heart to heaven with him.
A Little Cat Prayer
If it should be I grow frail and weak and pain should keep me from my sleep
Then you must do What must be done
The Last battle will be won
You will be sad I understand Don,t let your heart rule Your hand for this more than all the rest your Love for me will Stand the test
We had so many Happy years what is to come holds no fears
You will not want me to suffer NO!
So when time comes let me go
I decided that I wish to keep Sid with me so now I have his ashes . Sid will always be the man in my life and his passing has left a gaping hole. I was concerned that Florence would be lonely so made the decision quite quickly to introduce another cat into the home.
I contacted the Cats Protection League and discussed the possibility of adoption. Following a home visit and an interview, I was given a contact for a viewing. I fell for a beautiful tabby kitten but this was not to be.
I then discovered this tiny little black and white runt who had been rejected by his mother and hand reared. His sister had already been adopted and was due to be picked up the very next day , he would be alone. I had already chose the little tabby but as I was leaving the pen he meowed at me. Enter Murphy.
After much growling and the occasional paw , Florence is adjusting well to the new arrival. Murphy on the other hand has made himself well and truly at home. From climbing the curtains to the 4.30 am wake up calls (running up and down the bed , biting my nose etc ) .
Nothing, human or feline, can ever replace Sid. He is now intertwined into my heart. I miss him greatly every day. No doubt he is at the Rainbow Bridge now and I remain grateful to have had such a long and privileged time with him. I just hope that perhaps this story I have shared with you here will help others to make the right choices. I now ensure that both my cats are insured and very carefully question any side effects of medications they are given so I can make an informed choice.
Each and every one of us is blessed when we get to share our lives with these beautiful creature who love us in return unconditionally.
Until we meet again Sid , my boy , my angel, take care of my heart.