Karli is the name of the cat in the cover picture. She died today, 14th March 2016.
Karli was almost 20 years old. My parents bought her when she was 9 months old, from the only breeder of Norwegian Forest Cats in the South of England, in 1997. We'd been in the country for around a year and had recently lost Zak, a cat with whom I had known since before my first steps.
I'm no stranger to pets dying. Woldo (I think that was her name) was put to sleep when I was around 5. I remember she became more sick as the days went by and my parents had tried everything with the vets, so it was the kindest thing that could be done. My parents explained what would happen and that she would never be coming back. I cried.
Zak survived and when we moved from Norway in 1996, he was quarantined for 6 months, out for a period of months and run-over in the middle of the night. He died with Pappa in the car. I cried then and I cried at school the next day.
My parents bought Karli and Åsti, two half-sisters, in 1997 at 9 months and 18 months, respectively.
I always remember Karli as being shy, a little stupid, afraid of many things, adorable, affectionate and a cat with a very loud purr. She'd always run away, at first, but if you were patient (or had some tasty food nearby), she would eventually come close enough to you that you could just about reach her and give her a stroke.
Almost always an indoor cat, but ready to play with a glittery ball with a bell in it, or stare at you while you ate, waiting for a scrap of human-food. Especially if it was in a bowl. That meant there was probably cream in the bowl, which cats shouldn't eat/drink because it's bad for them. They love it anyway.
Over the last year, she'd been losing weight. Finding it harder to walk as arthritis in her back and hind legs took its toll. She'd begun peeing on the floor, or on one memorable occasion, peeing on pappa while he was in bed. In the last 3 months, she'd lost so much weight, you could feel her ribs and her bones. She weighed so little, you could easily pick her up with one hand.
On Friday last week, I went by my parent's house for dinner and to borrow their car for the weekend, to see my girlfriend. I noticed she wasn't moving very much and mamma said she hadn't eaten. Not even the prawns, which mamma was hiding her medication in, to fool Karli into eating them. Three pills, every dinner time. I think they were for arthritis, her kidneys and something else. Maybe something to increase her appetite.
When I came back on Sunday to drop the car off and say hello, Karli came to the sofa, sat down, and looked so unbelievably sad, old and frail.
I left her at my parents house after a lot of cuddles. As much love and affection was given to her yesterday, as it was clear that soon, either we'd have to make the choice to say goodbye or the choice would be taken from us and she would probably be suffering through pain until the end.
I went by my parent's house this morning before getting the train to work. She didn't look any better. Pappa said she'd been scratching at her box until he put the blanket she sleeps on (as in the above pictures) into the box. I gave her, what I realise now, was my own goodbye cuddle.
Mamma let me know later in the afternoon, that Karli had been lost the ability to use one of her legs and had taken her to the vet. It was time to say goodbye. I'm not ashamed to say I cried in the office. I was looked after by a couple of my wonderful colleagues and friends, who shared their own stories of their pets and losses of their pets.
Some might say "she's only a cat", but when you've grown up with a pet, like I had with Karli, or even when they're part of your adult life...if they've been part of it for so many years, the loss still takes its toll. Mamma found some great pictures of Karli throughout her life with us and I've added some of my own below. She lived a full, and I hope, a happy life with our family.
I miss her already.