Kirby joined our family in December 2007, a dignified and gentle ginger with the biggest hands and feet I’ve seen on a cat. He was two years old and we never figured out his earlier history. The reason for his being at the SPCA was, according to the forms, his fear of dogs. The six years he spent with us disproved this completely and we discovered nothing that would have accounted for his being handed in.
He had absolutely no clue how to climb trees or stalk birds or do anything most cats seem to know from birth. As an earlier blog post explains, Kimberley and I taught him to climb trees and discouraged him when latent bird-stalker talents emerged. There are so many memories and his death is too recent for these to be written about clearly.
Up until two months ago his health was perfect. He had only ever visited the vet for his innoculations. One Saturday afternoon in May he walked into the kitchen and his head and shoulders seemed stiff. It cleared up quite soon afterwards. Early in June he seemed off-colour although there was nothing specific we could pinpoint. I took him to the vet for a check-up and he too could find nothing wrong. Three weeks later Kirby was obviously losing weight around his hindquarters and seemed to be off-balance.
We took him back to the vet on 29 June. This time the vet located a growth below his rib cage and explained there was little that could be done except give him anti-inflammatories to try and retard the growth. He had been taking anti-inflammatories for sensitivity to flea-bites so the dosage was increased.
On Sunday 7 July he died in Kimberley’s arms, on the anniversary of my grandfather’s death.
She told me that evening that she had spoken to him as he lay against her legs in bed the previous night and told him that she understood if he needed to go. I have never been able to do that with my pets but maybe it made a difference as he died less than twelve hours later as she held him.
He and Storm had built a close relationship which I found unusual : I don’t know any other Jack Russels who have a sibling-type bond with a cat. Storm cleaned his head at every opportunity and we got used to the sight of the cat sporting a Mohawk. (We didn’t arrange the pose in the photograph above : Kirby would have been having his head thoroughly licked while the dog accidentally pinned down his paw). They took turns chasing each other around the garden and often slept near each other.
I’ve never before lost two pets within a year and Kirby’s death still seems surreal.
The photo below was taken the afternoon before his death with the person he held most dear.
One of my favourite pieces of poetry in junior school read in part “I had a Hippopotamus, I loved him as a friend, But beautiful relationships are bound to have an end”.
Kirby has been cremated but his legacy is untouchable.